LOS ANGELES — Long before Jim Mora became a college football coach, he wanted to recruit Myles Jack.
Mora first met Jack in Seattle when his son Ryder was playing youth football in the Seattle area with Jack’s younger brother, Jahlen. Mora knew he had a player on his hands.
“I remember when they showed up from Georgia and Myles showed up to practice up at this place called Wilburton, he had on his shower shoes, white sox, gray sweats, t-shirt,” Mora said. “I said, ‘How old is that kid?’ And they said he was only like 12 and he was already just jacked up.”
Fast-forward six years, and Jack is playing both inside and outside linebacker for Mora’s Bruins. They’re also throwing around the idea of letting Jack run the ball, as he was primarily a running back in high school.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Jack is exactly the type of versatile player that any coach would want on the team, so it’s no surprise that Mora coveted Jack for years.
But what he didn’t know six years ago was that Jack already wanted to play for him. It probably could have saved the head coach some recruiting.
“He coached my little brother,” Jack said. “I was jealous for sure. He was on NFL Network then too and I watched him every morning, and there he is coaching up my little brother.”
The Jack family moved from the Atlanta-area to Bellvue, Wash., around the time the family met the Moras. Jack had been a fan of Mora for years and said the first time he shook the coach’s hand he was in awe.
Mora was in awe as well.
“The first time I saw him he was a little boy. I’ve always kind of seen something in him that was special,” Mora said. “This kid is special. I mean he is special, special.”
Jack was first noticed in San Bernardino training camp when he looked as though he was in midseason shape on day one. Since then, Jack has been all over the field. Always near the ball and always making big plays, he is fourth on the team with 13 tackles, 11 of which are unassisted. He has two tackles for losses and broken up three passes, and he’s had to learn two positions as he’s been utilized as an outside linebacker and inside as the dime on nickel and dime packages.
“He never gets tired, he’s quick as a cat, he can run, he can jump, he can anticipate, he’s got great football awareness and he comes out here and he’s a hard worker,” Mora said. “He seems to just get better every single day and that’s what I saw when he was young. He’s always got better.”
“Myles Jack is a straight monster on the field,” added quarterback Brett Hundley.
But he’s a nice monster. Always slightly bigger than his opponents growing up, he laughs now about other kids not wanting to tackle him as a running back and kids being afraid to be tackled by him on defense. Jack really wanted someone to tackle him and really wanted to lend a hand to those he had to knock down.
“I heard someone coaches saying stuff like that,” Jack said. “I wasn’t like a mean player or anything out there. I helped people up. But I guess as a player I was intimidating.”
He’s quick to shrug off all of the praise and Mora said it’s never been in his character to get a big head.
“I’ve just seen him grow into a really mature, serious, conscientious young man,” Mora said. “He is, for a true freshman, well ahead of the curve in all of those aspects.”
“I don’t feel like I’ve made an impact at all,” Jack added. “It’s just very early in the season. It’s just two games. Two games and then I don’t do anything else in the season, it’s for nothing.
“I just have to stay consistent and keep working hard.”