Tunkhannock Area kicker and punter, senior Jaxson Montross, is kicking off his senior year by attending college football camps, clinics, and showcases.
He is looking to play football at the next level, and the first step includes making the trek to colleges to show off his skills to college coaches.
Montross, 17, has visited a smattering of universities throughout the Commonwealth and surrounding states, including Division I powerhouses Penn State, Syarcuse, Monmouth, Fordham, Temple, and Lafayette College. Also on his tour were Division II Shippensburg and Millersville.
“I have Lehigh, Bucknell, Villanova, and possibly Old Dominion on my schedule for July. I also attended Lauren’s First and Goal camp ” said Montross.
Tiger’s head football coach Mike Marabell and his staff encourage the players to market themselves.
“The guys need to get their name and face out there. The coaches aren’t coming to the high schools anymore. Jaxson and his parents have really taken the ball and run with it. They are doing an excellent job,” said Marabell.
It would seem the senior is hyper focused on his future football career, but the kicker also plays soccer and lacrosse, is vice president of the senior class, an FBLA member, and an NHS member.
“I would like to major in business or economics and all of the schools I have visited have a business program,” said Montross. “Academics come first.”
He continued, “I connect with the college coaches through email and twitter. It is my choice to attend the prospect camp to showcase my skills and make an impression. The goal is to hopefully get noticed and have the coach follow my senior year in football.”
According to Montross, a typical college prospect camp visit starts with an online registration, then show up on that day and go through a series of stations that measure things like height and weight, wing span, speed, broad jump and agility.
After that, the players break up into positions and Montross joins the kickers to kick field goals from all ranges, as well as doing kickoffs and punts. The coaches that are present at that camp will chart player results. The athletes can take a tour of the campus and athletic facilities.
Montross pointed out, “I take the time to visit with each coach and thank them for their time. I always thank them and my kicking coach on twitter.”
“The competition is quite good, and I always have to keep on my toes,” he said. “I would say that I am right on par with most, if not all, of the kickers at the camps I’ve been at. I’ve seen some of the best kickers and punters in the country and my kicking coach, John Zima, has prepared me in the best possible way to compete.”
Marabell spoke of Montross’ work ethic, stating, “He has great determination. You can see his work ethic throughout everything- he works with a kicking coach, he travels to all the camps, and he is constantly trying to always get better. It is great to see.”
Montross concedes that while seeing the facilities and meeting new people are his favorite part of the process, getting to talk to other kickers is part of why he loves going to camps.
“It is cool to hear different people’s backgrounds and compete with them for the day,” said the senior.
Other Tigers have visited some camps this summer, and Montross said, “We had a good turnout at the Lauren’s First and Goal camp, and I know our quarterback Jack Chilson is attending some big college camps.” In fact, Chilson attended The Manning Passing Academy and was able to get some one-on-one tips from Peyton Manning.
“Hopefully with the other guys getting some exposure, there will be recruiters coming to our games and seeing what all of us have to offer,” Montross explained. “Whenever coaches ask where I’m from, I am always proud to say that I’m from Tunkhannock. Most people haven’t heard of Tunkhannock at the camps I go to, so it definitely does put us on the map.”
As a competitor, Montross has been playing multiple sports for years, including two in the fall scholastic season. He believes being in different environments makes him a stronger person.
“I have been playing soccer since I was five years old. I don’t mind having two sports in one season at all because I love both of the sports.”
Marabell says that Montross is the only athlete double rostered on multiple teams in his lineup this fall.
Montross added, “This year the football team is going to have one night practice each week, so I can guarantee that I will be at that practice. Otherwise, I may only come on Thursdays, as that day is walkthroughs before Friday’s game. On the days that I don’t attend football, I always go home and just work on technique to stay sharp. This will be my fourth year playing varsity soccer, and it feels weird being a senior. I am always used to having older people on the team.”
Though the Tigers did not post a winning record last season, they are on the right path.
Coach Marabell’s Tigers recently competed in a lineman’s challenge at Northwest High School, taking home top honors for the junior varsity squad and second place for the varsity team.
“Coach Marabell is very supportive of me and he wants me to succeed in everything I do,” Montross said. “We have a lot of young guys this year so I am going to make sure to be a good role model for them and teach them everything I know from prior experience. It’s going to be lots of fun.”
“Jaxson wants to be a football player in every sense. He even runs with us, as a kicker, he doesn’t have to do that. Without a doubt he is one of our leaders,” explained Marabell. “He leads by example. He isn’t the ‘Rah-Rah’ kind of kid, he is a quiet leader.”
“We have a lot of good returning players, and the team is planning on a successful season. The players are very motivated and the coaches are working hard to make sure we
are at our very best come the season.”