A year ago, Central Catholic senior running back Kyle Jacklich was in a “dark place.”
He didn’t know if he would play football again. He said his parents were going through a divorce and he was constantly moving. He didn’t have a car and was missing school.
Then, to make matters more difficult, his dad’s brain tumor worsened, sending Brian, Kyle’s father, to the hospital.
“When that happened, I knew it was time for something to change and something just clicked with me,” Jacklich said.
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So, Jacklich worked for a month and bought his own car. He started to go to school every day and his grades “dramatically” improved.
Jacklich’s life came full circle Wednesday when he signed his National Letter of Intent with Montana State-Northern in front of friends and family at the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center.
He was one of four Raiders to sign, including Dawaiian McNeely, who did not announce his intentions at the lunchtime ceremony but is headed to the University of Wyoming, according to a Tweet by the school in Laramie, Wyo.
Meanwhile, Jacklich, a Bee Large School All-District honoree, shared a little bit of his emotional story in front the crowd.
“Kyle, every time he talks, he gives me the chills,” senior defensive back Adrian Cuevas said. “Nothing has ever been handed to that kid and he has worked for everything and he deserves it.”
Jacklich always has looked out for his teammates.
That was evidenced by his recruiting trip with Raiders coach Roger Canepa to Havre, Montana.
“We first got there and I knew the coach (Andrew Rolin) and (the coach) said, ‘Hey, we are looking for linemen,’” Canepa said. “We watched film and Kyle goes, “Chris (Mendoza) can do this and Mikey (Duran) can do that.”
Duran and Mendoza were teammates of Jacklich’s and both have received offers from the Montana school, although they have not yet signed.
Said Canepa: “I am there with (Jacklich) on this trip and it’s supposed to be about him and he was worried more about his players. He is always looking after his teammates.”
Two of Jacklich’s other teammates also made good on their commitments Wednesday.
Cuevas signed with Marian University while Jimmy Mootz signed with Pacific Lutheran University, where he will play football and swim.
For Cuevas, who tied with the team lead with 67 tackles, the Indianapolis school will be a long way from home. However, it’s where he saw his future.
“The business program is great,” he said. “There are so many opportunities for me in Indianapolis and you have the Colts and Pacers along with so many business firms and internships. I could possibly get a lifetime job over there.”
McNeely will join Dauson Booker at Wyoming. Booker, who rushed for 1,838 yards as a senior at Central Catholic in 2017, redshirted his first year.
Jacklich is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.
“I have the chance to go get my college education basically paid for and the opportunity to play football at a four-year school,” he said.
Brian Jacklich used to stand underneath the goalpost and lean on it to watch his son play.
“Every Friday night I would go out there and do it for him,” Jacklich said. “He is my motivation and I want to show him I could do it.”