"The football field is just another classroom." For Jake Lawler those words are especially true.
Lawler, a 6-3 defensive end from Charlotte, North Carolina attending South Mecklenburg High School, is one the top in his state for the class of 2017 except arguably his greatest attribute isn't his size, strength, or quickness (although he does have all of those); it's his mind.
"Everything depends on the information you process and how you do to adjust to it."- Jake Lawler
As of right now Lawler has a total of 12 schools offering him a scholarship. Among them are southern stalwarts such as Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, and, of course, the South Carolina Gamecocks. However, there are a couple universities that have experienced some recent success but are widely considered some of the top academic institutions in America. Those include Duke, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt, and you would be mistaken to think that Jake isn't a good enough student to be accepted based on his academics alone at these places.
"Academics are important because football has an expiration date," said Lawler. "No one is ever going to play forever so you need to have a backup plan."
On the field, Lawler's talent is unquestionable. When asked to describe his greatest strengths, Lawler responded, "Definitely my power. I think I could get off the block against anyone. You don’t have to be the biggest or strongest but if you’re powerful and willing to fight and give your all a lot of good things will happen."
It seems that scouts agree with Lawler's self assessment. According to Chad Simmons at Scout.com, "When you see Lawler, you see a young man with passion, intensity, and a constant motor. He gets after it. He plays fast and violent until the whistle blows. He plays hard but under control."
As you watch Lawler play, this is apparent. All you need to see is about two plays and you can see him get right past a tackle and run down the quarterback for a sack, or lineup as a 4-3 defensive tackle and watch him explode past a guard to stuff a run for negative yardage.
However, Jake realizes that there's always room for improvement.
"I hope to improve on my run-stopping ability. I think I need to get lower on my pads as well. I also think I need to get a faster step off the ball."
With still a season left to play and his relentless work ethic there is no doubt that Jake will have these areas much improved before he steps on a college campus.
"Lawler loves to compete and he plays with a fire inside that is not coachable. Smart kid off the field and you see that intelligence on the field as well," - Chad Simmons, Scout.com
In today's world, social media is a popular outlet for people to express their interests and thoughts. For Jake, his Twitter bio features a modest description of himself, including the elementary school he went to and his title of "Football Player". There is also something else that someone who doesn't know him might be surprised to see; the words "Film Connoisseur".
Jake has always had an interest in movies, and for awhile his favorite was The Usual Suspects, a crime/drama film about a con man who tries to convince the feds that a mythical crime lord is actually real. Now, though, Jake has a new number one title with Creed.
"I love it and how I can draw inspiration from that when I’m in the weight room and I’m thinking ‘Even if this guy in the movie, or anyone, could get past that then I can finish this last set.’," said Lawler.
When asked about if he has any other interests or hobbies, Lawler replied, "Not really. I’m a pretty simple guy. All I do is play football and watch movies so that’s about it."
In terms of his college decision, Jake hasn't really narrowed it down but he does have a few things he hopes in a university.
"A family atmosphere. I want to feel like I am stepping in my house whenever I am on campus or in the weight room or on the field," said Jake. "A school with prestigious academics would put me in a place to be successful regardless of how far I go or how well I end up being."