Jake Colbert signs

Winfield senior defensive end Jake Colbert signs a letter of intent to play football at Illinois College surrounded by family members and coaches on May 17. 

Four years of hard work finally came to fruition for Jake Colbert, though it took a little longer than expected.

On Sunday, the Winfield High School senior defensive end signed a letter of intent to play football at NCAA Division III Illinois College in Jacksonville in the fall surrounded by his parents and coaches, and though the novel coronavirus delayed his signing, he’s happy it eventually happened.

“COVID-19 delayed the signing, but because all of the coaches were still available, the signing still went on as planned,” Colbert said.

As soon as he said foot on the Illinois College campus in February, Colbert said he knew the school was where he wanted to play, despite having to wait longer than he wanted to officially sign.

“One of the things that made me want to come to Illinois College is it reminds me of home,” he said. “It has a small-town feel that reminded me of playing football with my buddies.”

Colbert’s mother, Holli Seidel, couldn’t have been happier to see her son’s hard work pay off with a scholarship.

“’Proud’ is too small of a word to describe how I’m feeling right now,” she said. “I’ve sat on the 50-yard-line since he first started playing football in fourth grade.”

Colbert will be joining a Blueboys squad that went 6-3 overall last season, and 2-2 in Midwest Conference play. IC averaged 32 points per game in 2019, and allowed 19 points.

Winfield coach Keith McGlasson said he was proud of Colbert, but not surprised because of his work ethic.

“It’s always cool to have a kid having a chance to play at the next level,” he said. “There was no doubt with him though, because he has a full motor.

“He was 110% on everything he did, whether it was game play, workouts or practice. It didn’t matter.”

Though Colbert played defensive end for the Warriors, he will likely move to outside linebacker or edge pass rusher for the Blueboys. Nevertheless, he said the three and four-man defensive schemes he played in at Winfield have prepared him for the next level.

“We switched from a three-man line to a four-man line my senior year – and that’s what Illinois College runs,” Colbert said. “My coaches have prepared me for this level with the schemes and formations they set for me.”

Seidel said she always had one policy for her son when it came to football: academics first, sports a close second. She said they run neck and neck, and she’s proud Colbert graduated with honors.

“I’ve been proud of every fumble (recovery) and every TD, but what I’ve been most proud of is his academics,” Seidel said. “He has always paid attention to his grades, and has always finished at or near the top of his class in every grade.”

McGlasson shared Seidel’s sentiment, and said he hopes Colbert continues to show the same work ethic on the field and in the classroom at IC that he showed at Winfield.

“The biggest thing I worry about with many of the kids is when they go to the next level, they stop going to class,” McGlasson said. “The first time away from home is the first time many of these have real freedom to do what they want, and some kids struggle with their grades.

“I don’t think that will be a problem with Jake though.”

Seidel said she admits she has been the loudest person in the stands for all her son’s games dating back to when he was a child, but has no regrets – and said she will be doing the same thing when she watches him play for the first time as a Blueboy.

“I’ll be the loudest person shouting from the 50-yard-line at his first game,” she said.