Lake Zurich football star jumps at ISU offer
Standing under the basketball net in the family driveway with both feet on the ground, wearing only shorts and sneakers, Jack Dwyer imitated a NASA spacecraft launch.
The 6-footer exploded skyward, dunking with one hand.
Not quite an official slam dunk by the football star, mind you.
"It's like 9-11½ (in height)," Dwyer, an incoming Lake Zurich senior, said of the hoop that his dad got him and older brother Luke for Christmas a few years ago.
Dwyer tweeted video of his athletic feat, which could be considered a "10" on a not-quite-10-feet basket.
"I couldn't believe I did it, so I just posted it on Twitter," he said. "For whatever reason, I jump really good off two feet. I have like a 33½-inch vertical."
For understandable reasons, Illinois State University's football program liked the athletic Dwyer enough to offer him a scholarship last summer. For several reasons -- including head coach Brock Spack and his staff, ISU's proximity to home, enrollment size and education program -- Dwyer last week accepted the Redbirds' offer.
Spack's Redbirds went 10-5, including 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, last season, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
ISU recruited Dwyer as a safety and was the 180-pounder's only offer.
"I just really feel like it's the place for me," Dwyer said. "It's a really good fit. I love the coaching staff and everything about the school. I just figured, 'Why not?' "
In his second season on varsity last fall, Dwyer was in the midst of a breakout season. A left-knee injury suffered in the first half of a Week-7 showdown against undefeated Warren ended the running back's season. Dwyer called the injury a non-displaced tibial plateau fracture. Surgery was not required, but he was on crutches for six weeks.
That meant he missed the Bears' final five games, including three playoff contests.
He finished the season with 646 rushing yards (6.7 average) and 8 touchdowns, not including a receiving TD. He also played outside linebacker.
"(The injury) was really hard," Dwyer said. "I played sophomore year (on varsity), but I didn't really have a key role. This year I did. It was really a shame because I was having a pretty good year.'
The youngest of three children of John and Leslie, Dwyer is a four-sport athlete. He also plays basketball, runs track (sprints) and plays baseball in the summer.
"Jack is tremendous competitor and athlete," Lake Zurich football coach Ron Planz said. "He was a big piece of the puzzle last year. When he got hurt, we had to change some the things we do. He is a great lead-by-example presence, and I am so excited to see him compete his senior year. ISU is getting a winner as a person and player."
Dwyer just wants to get back to playing football. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hold sports hostage and now threatens fall sports.
"I'm getting nervous," Dwyer said. "But I'm really hopeful we'll have a season."