GFU recruit caps stellar senior campaign with appearance at annual all-star game
At 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 265 pounds, Dane Jensen is pretty hard to overlook.
But that hasnt always been the case.
Jensen came almost out of nowhere to earn Pacific Conference Lineman of the Year and honorable mention all-state honors as a senior, helping Newberg to its best season in five years and making a name for himself on the football field at the same time.
On Saturday, the George Fox University recruit enjoyed the fruit of his labor and put a nice cap on his Newberg career by playing in the Les Schwab Bowl Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.
He had the time of his life and met some neat people and played against the best, which makes him so happy his mother, Debbie Jensen, said. It built his confidence even more. It was just a great experience, off the field as much as on.
Few outside of the Newberg weight room, where Jensen essentially lived during the offseason between his junior and senior years, would have predicted such success.
As sophomore tight end and defensive end, Jensen wasnt very noticeable at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds.
He did shoot up four inches and gain about 40 pounds as a junior, but didnt yet have the strength to go along with his newfound size and flew under the radar as a high school player, let alone a college recruit.
But after dedicating himself to getting stronger, Jensen emerged a new player as a senior guard and defensive tackle, suddenly unavoidable, as the Tigers finished third in the Pacific Conference and made the playoffs for the first time in head coach T.J. Tomlins four-year tenure.
The growth from his junior to senior year was tremendous, Tomlin said. I think for him, I think he finally saw himself as a dominant player.
As Jensens explosiveness increased, so did his confidence both on and off the field. That resulted in the postseason accolades and attention from college coaches, the latter being a point of emphasis for Jensen heading into the campaign.
I think things that stuck out were hes very mobile for his size, Bruins coach Chris Casey said. There are few guys who have the size to play O-line at the college level and the speed to play D-line and hes one of those guys that has both.
He drew interest from some Division I schools like Montana, Portland State and San Diego, as well as from D-II Western Oregon and numerous D-III colleges in the Northwest.
Jensen turned down a scholarship opportunity at NAIA College of Idaho, which like George Fox is restarting its football program after decades off, to stay home and help build a program with the Bruins.
He said, I just cant see building part of that and then not being here to build part of my own, Debbie Jensen said. But the difference was they could offer scholarships because theyre NAIA and George Fox cant. So he took on more of a debt by going to George Fox, but he really feels thats where his heart is.
A big factor in Jensens decision was George Foxs nursing program and the straightforward approach Casey takes to recruiting.
Casey graduated from Newberg High School in the same class as Jensens dad, Chris, and the two were roommates for a semester at Mount Hood Community College, but impressed Jensen and his family most by not making any promises during the process.
At first I wanted to go anywhere close in Oregon and as big as possible, Jensen said. Then I realized what I want to become and that narrowed it down a lot more. I really liked Chris Casey a lot. Hes a really cool guy.
Like he did Saturday in the high school all-star game, Jensen said he prefers to play defense and plans to do so at the next level, but added that if it its in the best interest of the team, hed have no problem flipping to the O-line.
Casey said building a brand new program has been a point of emphasis in recruiting, but that for Jensen, that was especially important.
One of the things that knocks it up for him was to be able to take on the challenge and excitement of doing it in his hometown, being someone thats going to come in and be the foundation, building blocks, the first step of that whole process, Casey said. He and I talked about it several times.