When former West Forsyth football standout Jake Wieczorek was recruited to play wide receiver for Holy Cross in Massachusetts, he knew that, at least early in his career, that he’d be asked to do a lot of things as a slot receiver that were familiar to the tasks of a wing back, his high school position with the Wolverines.
Catching up to the speed of the college game would be difficult. Wieczorek knew that, but wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly he’d have to catch up, or the circumstances.
On Aug. 31, 2013, Wieczorek geared up in his first-ever college game against Bryant in Smithfield, R.I. Because he was so far down in the depth chart, he wasn’t slated to do any pass catching that day.
But he did have to catch a few punts.
Just days before their season opener against the Bulldogs, Holy Cross’ starting punt returner went down with an injury. Two punts into the Bryant game, their second-string returner came off the field banged up as well.
That’s when Wieczorek’s name was called.
“It was crazy, actually,” Wieczorek said to describe his chaotic, unexpected introduction to Patriot League Football. “That’s something I’d never done before in a live game.”
His first attempt, he said, he should have called fair catch. He was within feet of getting cleaned up by a charging gunner before a teammate came into the frame in the last second to clear his way. The freshman fair-caught the second attempt and returned a third later on, finishing with two returns for 23 yards.
Wieczorek finished his freshman season with a modest 12 receptions for 215 yards. This past season, he upped his game, leading the team in receiving—50 catches, 694 yards and five touchdowns. He was named to the Patriot League’s second team and earned academic honors from the conference and Capital One’s district honors.
Now Wieczorek is focused on earning first-team status in his league, though his bigger goal for his junior season is helping lead his team to a winning record. Holy Cross has gone just 7-17 in the past two seasons.
“We have not had the best two years, so the main focus is turning that around,” Wieczorek said. “Our new offensive coordinator (Brian Rock) is a big part of that I feel like.”
Wieczorek has also been focused in the classroom, where he’s essentially working toward two different professions. He has concentrated on a pre-med program while also majoring in economics.
His plan is to graduate from Holy Cross and football before moving onto medical school.
“It’s kind of wherever you get accepted,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to get accepted into medical school these days, so I’ll have to keep my options wide open. It would be nice to go home and go to Emory or something like that.”
Meanwhile, Wieczorek will continue to fit into the northeast after being born and raised in Georgia.
“My mother is from Connecticut and my father from Queens,” Wieczorek said. “But, it’s still new. I actually had no idea about Holy Cross until phone calls. I was planning on going to Johns Hopkins, but this opportunity to play D-I football came up, and I couldn’t turn it down.”
He also says he’d like to avoid playing in a “snow game.”
“We had to practice in it one time and it was pretty rough,” Wieczorek said. “It’s hard to catch the ball and the snow gets in your eyes. Makes everything kind of blurry.”