Watch Jake Bobo live, from the sideline or in the stands, or on film. And what you see is a Division 1 college football talent.
At the 6 feet 4 inches and 185 pounds, the Belmont Hill senior receiver has the size to outjump defenders, the elusiveness and quickness to lose defenders, and the intellect to make quick decisions at full speed.
In the past two seasons, the Concord teen has racked up 15 touchdowns on 61 receptions. And not just in the red zone. The Duke University commit has piled up 1,200-plus yards, showcasing his speed in the open field and ability to make defenders miss their lanky target.
“He’s a real tough kid to cover, fast, they move him around, and he has unbelievable hands,” said Pat Ross, the former head coach at Independent School League rival Roxbury Latin for nine seasons before retiring last November.
“He definitely calls for double coverage.”
That will likely be the case on Saturday afternoon when Belmont Hill, along with the rest of the ISL, kicks off its 2017 season by hosting Roxbury Latin and first-year coach Orlando Patterson. In other key matchups in Week 1, St. Sebastian’s welcomes Milton Academy and Buckingham, Browne & Nichols travels to Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass.
Belmont Hill coach Chris Butler is well-acquainted with Bobo’s talent. But he believes it is the senior’s work ethic that has enabled him to stand out among the league’s best players.
“He’s always ran great routes and had good hands, but he’s really worked to improve in a lot of the areas that sometimes go unnoticed by receivers,” said Butler. “If he’s not getting the ball thrown to his side, he’s still running routes really hard, or even blocking downfield on run plays.”
Mike Piazza, entering his third season as Belmont’sstarting QB, says Bobo makes his job easier.
“It’s great having him out there, and having the trust in him that’s he’s going to be able to make a play if I throw it up to him,” Piazza said.
Bobo, though, lets his play do the talking in games. But he is very vocal in practice. He is often seen leading conditioning drills, running extra routes during down time, and encouraging teammates to remain focused during long sessions.
He has an unmistakable presence, and for all the right reasons.
“He’s just a great kid to everyone he interacts with,” said Butler.
“Whether it’s a senior on the football team right down to the seventh graders . . . he goes out of his way to talk to the younger guys, and he’s just a super kid to have in the locker room.”
His father, Mike Bobo, said his son has loved the game from a young age.
“Most athletes at a young age play quarterback and that’s what he did,” said the elder Bobo, who has coached the quarterbacks and receivers at Belmont Hill the past four seasons. “But when we [moved] down to Arkansas for a few years, he had the opportunity to play alongside some good talent . . . and that kind of forced him to move out to receiver, which challenged him some.
“That was really the first time I started thinking, ‘If he continues to grow, and builds up some size to go with the athletic ability’ . . . that’s when myself and some others started to say that he could have a great high school career, and who knows what could happen down the road.”
That road eventually led to the college recruiting process for Jake Bobo and his family.
“Football-wise, my dad has been awesome, he’s been coaching me my whole life,” Jake said. “And I honestly probably would not be where I am now without the stuff he’s helped me with.”
Said the elder Bobo, “You go well beyond the football aspect, and you find a place that if something were to happen, an injury or something like that, that’s still the place you want to be.
“We were very fortunate to have some great schools start calling, and my wife [Casey] and I have been very proud of him the whole way through.”
Boston College, Wake Forest, UMass, and Army, among others, made offers. In the end, Jake chose Duke.
“I love the coaching staff down there,” Bobo said, referring to Duke coach David Cutliffe and his staff with the Blue Devils. “I thought it was a cool mix of athletics and academics, and it’s Power 5 [Atlantic Coast Conference] football, which has been a dream of mine my whole life.”
“You can’t find that just anywhere.”
For a preview of prep school football, go to bostonglobe.com/schools.