Incoming Polytech High School freshman Jared Wagenhoffer will compete this week among some of the best football players in the nation, even though he has yet to formally make the varsity squad of his own high school team.
Wagenhoffer, a Smyrna resident who has played organized sports in the Camden-Wyoming area since he was 7, began playing football for the Dover/CR Raiders before moving on to Pop Warner and junior high football at Postlethwait Middle School.
His play recently helped him to earn a spot at a Football University camp, an invitation-only, all-star camp specializing in working with the best-of-the-best at each position. The exclusive camp offers elite prospects the opportunity to compete against their peers while working with some of the more influential minds in the sport.
“Coach (John) Downs from Postlethwait recommended him to the program and then he had to go through an interview process, where he made the cut,” explained Jared’s father, John Wagenhoffer.
In May, Jared attended his first camp in Pennsylvania and was selected among the top players in attendance, earning him an invitation to the Top Gun Showcase in Dublin, Ohio this week. There, Jared will participate alongside 750 of the best prospects from around the country and work with 100 current and former NFL players and coaches.
Over the years, the Top Gun Showcase has helped mentor current NFL quarterbacks, including Matt Ryan and Tony Romo, along with Super Bowl winners Drew Brees and Eli Manning.
If Jared is deemed one of the top prospects from this week’s showcase, he will play in the Eastbay All-American Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in January 2015.
“I’m jumping out of my seat,” Jared said. “I just can’t wait to shine out there for my parents, coaches and teammates, who all helped me get to this point. I can’t wait to do my best and exceed my own expectations.”
While Jared soon will be showcasing his skills on a national level, he also is focused on earning the starting quarterback position at Polytech High School, where he’ll start his freshman year this fall.
He recently played alongside his new Polytech teammates in 7-on-7 drills at Towson University.
“It was a very cool experience,” said Jared. “To be a freshmen and be out there throwing to the older classmen, it was great.”
After years of futility on the gridiron, the Polytech Panthers’ football program received a much-needed breathe of fresh air in 2013. Under new head coach Kevin Smith, the Panthers improved to a 5-5 record after winning just two games or less in four of the past five seasons.
After his first taste of high school football, Jared he’s relishing the opportunity to become the go-to star for the Polytech next season.
“A lot of people are scared of the pressure – I’m not,” he said. “Some get scared or nervous. I live for the competition.”
It’s that type of attitude that has molded Jared into one of the top football prospects in the area. And even though he has yet to play a meaningful minute of high school football, the incoming freshmen says he has set plenty of goals for himself.
“Right now, I just want to keep on working and hopefully come out on top as the varsity quarterback,” he said. “Then I hope I’m suiting up in the Eastbay All-American Game in January.”
Jared’s hard work and dedication have given him an opportunity few freshmen are afforded.
But his father says he believes his passion for the game and a support group that pushes him to be better leaves little doubt about the success he’ll have at the next level.
“He’s put in a lot of work, football is his passion,” said Mr. Wagenhoffer. “He’s taken a leadership role, and he’s been blessed to have great coaches and teammates who help him want to be better.”