Teammates Jake Nadley and Will Janney Had Different Freshman Experiences at College of Idaho
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
They played on the same team, had several of the same classes, even lived in the same room, but that is about all Jake Nadley and Will Janney had in common as freshmen at College of Idaho.
Each was a two-sport star at Palisades High and looked forward to making an immediate impact on the field in Caldwell for a football program on the rise. However, while Janney played in 11 games as a freshman, Nadley was forced to redshirt because of injury and never suited up. Through it all, they never stopped pushing each other to be the best, something they’ve been doing since they wore blue and white.
“We both had completely different seasons,” Janney admitted.
What a season it was for the Coyotes, who went 10-0 on their way to capturing the Frontier Conference championship—their only conference title in 64 years and first since 2014 when the program was reinstated after a 37-year hiatus. They advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship Series, falling to Grand View University 14-6 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I played free safety on defense,” said Janney, who had three solo and six assisted tackles with one fumble recovery. “I was rotated in [at safety] for five games and played on special teams almost every game. I’m competing for the starting job this coming fall. It was a fun but very difficult season. Coming from Pali where I was on the field every play on both sides to being a special teams guy and second string free safety was tough at first. I was able to travel every game and get reps, so I’m very appreciative of that. I learned that learning the playbook is more important then working ladder and speed drills. It’s all about knowing what you’re doing at all times!”
Nadley, on the other hand, was going to play slot receiver but suffered a cruel twist of fate before the season even began.
“I had a torn labrum on each hip as well as massive impingements on both so I was hurt the entire year and it was very frustrating not being able to even practice with my teammates,” Nadley said. “I recently had two hip surgeries which I’m progressing through with physical therapy on a weekly basis. I can start to run and take part in physical activity with some restrictions. I’m excited to get back on the field and put on my cleats and gloves again. I’m not sure where I’m at on the depth chart. It was really a bummer that I couldn’t even play the game I was working so hard for. There were points where I questioned if I could come back from this injury but I’ll be ready for the 2020 football season.”
As senior co-captains in 2018, Nadley and Janney were the catalysts of a defensive secondary that statistically was one of the best Palisades has ever had, recording 15 takeaways (13 interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and breaking up 26 passes. The Dolphins allowed a measly 8.8 points per game in the regular season and posted four shutouts.
Nadley was a lockdown cornerback, recording 43 tackles, six interceptions, five pass deflections and a fumble recovery. He was also the team’s leading receiver on offense with 38 receptions for 600 yards and six touchdowns—three of them in his final high school game at Eagle Rock. He was chosen Team Co-MVP at the postseason banquet and in the spring his catches in center field propelled Palisades to the City finals at Dodger Stadium. He earned All-League and All-City First Team honors in football, All-League honors in baseball and won the Post Cup Award as Pali High’s outstanding senior athlete.
“The high school games that stand out to me most are when we defeated Westchester and Venice on our way to the league title,” said Nadley, who lives in Westwood and went to Paul Revere Middle School before Palisades. “They were both must wins and I had to have my best games. We won both, which set us up for the Open playoffs. The college game that sticks out to me most is when our kicker made a 58-yard field goal to win the game as time expired. Truly the craziest game I ever witnessed!”
On the rare occasions when receivers got behind Nadley, free safety Janney was always there to make sure they didn’t catch the ball. He had 40 tackles, five interceptions, six pass deflections and a sack to earn All-League First team and All-City defensive second team honors. He also had 26 catches for 416 yards and five touchdowns and was named Back of the Year at the team football banquet. That winter, he made Second Team All-League as a forward on the basketball team, helping the Dolphins advance to the City Division I quarterfinals.
“The high school game that stands out most is Huntington Park in my junior year,” Janney said. “It was a crazy ‘football fest’ game at Pali and we won, 35-34. I also had a 90-yard pick six and I never heard louder screams than when I scored that touchdown. I realized after that play I could become a standout in the City and I’ll always remember that game. As for college, I’d pick the same one as Jake—against Montana Tech when we had a field goal to win from around 60 yards and we hit it! Great game!”
Asked to name the biggest transition from high school to college, each cited academics as a one.
“For me it was easily the mental aspect,” Janney said. “It’s more physical and teams are stronger and faster than in high school, but the mental aspect of the playbook with so many coverages was hard for me. The academics were difficult as well and it was difficult to manage my time.”
Added Nadley: “Besides the work load for football it was being alone for the first time. Not seeing my family and friends every day was quite different. The academics was very hard throughout the course of the year also. The work load was intense and there were no breaks whatsoever.”
Nadley and Janney worked out together over the summer before reporting to camp in Caldwell and both feel Palisades prepared them well for what they would face in Idaho. Everything, that is, except the weather.
“It’s cold there—especially walking to those 6 a.m. lifts during the week, sometimes at 10 degrees with snow on the ground,” Janney said. “It’s a huge adjustment, but I’ve found a lot of love for Idaho in the past year. Physically I felt great. The Pali program as well as outside training gave me the confidence to be prepared and ready to hit the ground running.”
Added Nadley: “I was very prepared for the season. I’d lift three to four times a week while working out on a daily basis. Last summer I was the strongest and most athletic of my career. My knowledge of football and work ethic were the biggest things I took away from the Pali program. It gets pretty cold in the winter. I wasn’t ready for that at all. L.A. didn’t prepare me well for the cold weather.”
Living with each other made the transition smoother and strengthened their friendship, though they remain super competitive with one another.
“Will and I roomed together in a dorm on campus,” Nadley said. “We’d spend a lot of time together whether at football, in the cafeteria, in class or just relaxing in the room. We had a few classes together in the spring semester.”
Added Janney: “It’s difficult to live in a room all the time with anyone, especially given we’re two young competitive guys. But Jake and I chose each other to stay with and I’d do it over and over again. We took a history class together. We now rent a house for next year, so I’m happy to be roommates again, but it’s nice to have a separate room!”
Janney was first to commit to College of Idaho and has grown to love the Midwest lifestyle.
“At first, I wasn’t so sure about Idaho,” he admitted. “I realize now how great it can be. I spent some time out there in the countryside and it’s amazing. I’ll always be an L.A. kid, but its great to expand my horizons and appeciate other places in the U.S.”
Nor does Nadley regret his decision: “I followed a few months after Will. I had other offers but chose to go to Idaho for the solid football program, scholarship and the fact that my friend had already committed. I really liked the campus as well as the football facilities. Idaho is quite different than Los Angeles but that’s what I like about it.”
Nadley and Janney were sent home in March and both have had to adjust to online classes.
“I’m a in-class type of person, especially for the classes I love, so it hasn’t been great for me, but it hasn’t affected my grades,” said Janney, who lives in the Highlands. “I’ve still maintained over a 3.0 and I know Jake has too.”
Nadley is looking forward to getting back to school and putting on the Yotes uniform.
“The college plans to be on campus in the fall so we’re scheduled to return to Idaho for football by the last week of July,” he said. “I haven’t been able to work out yet due to my surgeries and physical therapy but I’ll starting a workout plan with my trainer real soon that’ll go on until I leave for Idaho. Two things I need to work on are my releases off the line and my breaks out of routes.”
Added Janney: “I’ve worked out on my own during the quarantine. I lift, run and do footwork with football drills to stay in shape and not miss a beat. We didn’t lift together ever because Jake was injured, but the competition is there always. It’s all about the playbook, nothing else. I have the size, ability and athleticism to play immediately.”
Janney made it back to his old stomping grounds for one football game and one basketball game this year and had to resist the urge to pull on a Dolphins jersey.
“I made it back for the Westchester football game, which was during a bye week for me,” Janney recalled. “For basketball I went to the Beverly Hills game and to see them get killed that game then go on to win the City Division I championship was truly crazy.”
The coaching staff at College of Idaho is bigger—and much different—than what Nadley grew accustomed to at Palisades.
“They all have passion for the sport and are dedicated to making us better,” Nadley said. “All of the coaches really know their football, especially my wide receiver coach who played at San Jose State.”
As for Pali High head coach Tim Hyde, he is thrilled that Nadley and Janney are still playing a game of ‘Can you top this?’
“I love how two of the best players and leaders I’ve coached at Pali ended up going off to play college football together,” he said. “I’m very proud of them and I stay in contact with them. I can’t wait to see them graduate and be leaders wherever they end up.”
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