You might know Jake Ganus as the former starting inside linebacker for the University of Georgia football team who in 2015 led the Bulldogs in tackles and earned a spot in the 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl. But you probably don’t know the real story of Jake Ganus.
It all starts in Ganus’s home town of Chelsea, Alabama. As a senior quarterback at Chelsea High, he threw for 1,058 yards and ran for another 1,491. Then Ganus decided to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham — but as a defensive back, not a quarterback. As a freshman for the Blazers, Ganus had an immediate impact by recording 63 tackles. As a sophomore he moved to linebacker and recorded a team high 93 tackles (58 of them solo). In his third season he had a career high with six sacks and with 17.5 tackles for loss. Then something shocking happened: UAB announced it was canceling its football program. Ganus would have to transfer.
“My initial reaction was disbelief,” Ganus says. “I didn’t really think it was possible. There had been rumors throughout the season that someone might try to do that, might try to shut us down, but I never believed it. So, when I first saw it on a tweet, I just didn’t believe it. I thought, This can’t be possible.”
Ganus explored his options. He had only two weeks to find a school. In a week Ganus was contacted by 70 schools and received 40 Division 1 scholarship offers. Compared to his recruiting experience coming out of high school, this was vastly different. Back then he was a dual-threat quarterback who had only one Division 1 scholarship.
He decided to transfer to Georgia. Playing in the SEC was a big step up from the competition Ganus was used to. “The biggest difference between the SEC and other conferences is the depth,” he says. “The backups can play.” It was a tough transition, but Ganus was used to that. “My whole career has been a lot of adversity,” he says. “Coaching changes and a program shut down. My foundation and roots got me through everything. My dad taught me that hard work beats everything. My main motto and principle I live by is, You reap what you sow. If you work hard good things will happen.”
In 2015 Ganus was named Georgia’s Most Valuable Player. However, Ganus said that the best honor he received was being voted team captain. “I was only there 11 months and they thought enough of me to vote me captain,” he says. Also, Ganus was invited to the Senior Bowl. “It was really a dream come true,” he says. “Just to get to play in front of 900 scouts, owners, GM’s of all 32 NFL teams. I was extremely grateful for that to help me get to the next level.”
Ganus was not drafted but was signed by the Vikings shortly after the draft concluded, and he had an impressive rookie camp. He will try to make the team in training camp later this summer. Don’t bet against him. Jake Ganus is a key example of perseverance and hard work. He has definitely reaped what he has sown.
(Photo credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)