College Football

Raiders all-state linebacker commits to play for Hawks

on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 11, 2018 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Jackson Connell always assumed his college football career would take him to a different zip code.

"I was thinking I needed to get out of town to call some other town my second home," the Quincy Notre Dame senior all-state linebacker said.

It turns his first home is the one he still will call home.

Connell officially committed Wednesday to play football at Quincy University and will sign his national letter of intent February 7.

He is the second area recruit to commit to the Hawks, joining Unity-Payson defensive lineman Dakota Ehrhardt. He will be part of a recruiting class that is expected to have as many as five junior college transfers enroll this month and participate in spring practice.

"Since day one, they have always been there and always showed interest," the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Connell said of the QU coaching staff. "When I went for my official visit a few weeks ago, they made me feel like family. (QU coach Gary) Bass, I love what he's doing, trying to change that program around and get it successful and make a name for it.

"And I liked Coach (Sean) Kelly as my linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. I liked the facilities and everything they were trying to do with that program."

Connell led the Raiders' return to the playoffs this season with a team-high 94 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two interceptions and two fumbles recoveries to earn first-team all-state honors from the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. He also returned one fumble and one interception for touchdowns.

He finished his QND career as the fifth leading tackler in program history.

Offensively, Connell led the Raiders in rushing with 665 yards and seven touchdowns on 82 carries, but he never envisioned himself as anything other than a linebacker or safety in college. He could figure into the Hawks' plans defensively right away.

"They told me you could have a shot, but you might not. You never know what happens in college," Connell said. "The coaches said they were going to put the best people on the field, and the best person could be a freshman or a senior. I've going to have to go in and work just as hard as I did my senior year of high school and fight for a position, whatever position it may be."