Even before he took his first snap under center last fall as a varsity quarterback, Jake Kolbe knew what was staring him in the face.
At Naperville Central, the list of quarterbacks who have had varying degrees of success piloting the Redhawks’ offense is distinguished: Tim Lavery, Owen Daniels, Phil Horvath, Harrison Daniels, Nick Linne, Hayden Daniels and Ian Lewandowski.
In his first year as Naperville Central’s varsity quarterback, Kolbe enjoyed a junior season that saw him complete 61.3 percent of his passes in throwing for 1,623 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He was only intercepted four times.
On Wednesday, with the 2013 opener still more than three months away, Kolbe put an end to the question of where his football career will take him after his senior season at Naperville Central — Illinois State.
“It felt right. I really liked the campus and the surrounding town,” Kolbe wrote in a text on Thursday. “(Illinois State) Coach (Brock) Spack and the rest of the coaches are also very cool. Lastly but most importantly the school has great academics.”
The Redbirds went 9-4 overall in 2012, including going 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while averaging 30.2 points per game on offense and throwing for an average of 262.7 yards.
Kolbe, who attended camps at llinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin since last summer, spurned scholarship offers from a pair of Mid-American Conference programs in Toledo and Central Michigan. Illinois State provided him a level of comfort.
“I believe it was the best fit for me because of how close the school is to Naperville,” Kolbe wrote. “I think it’s a great opportunity to play in my home state. I really want my parents to be able to come watch me.”
Before turning his attention to his future in Normal, Ill., the focus for the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Kolbe is all about having the strongest senior year possible as he and his teammates will look to get the Naperville Central program back on track after finishing 4-5 in 2012.
Last year, the Redhawks were eliminated from postseason contention after a 26-23 loss to crosstown rival Naperville North in Week 8 last year. Naperville Central has missed out on postseason play twice in the last three years, with a trip to the 2011 Class 8A state semifinals sandwiched in between.
The presence of junior wide receiver Ben Andreas will help Kolbe and the rest of the Redhawks’ offensive unit in an attempt to fuel that return to the playoffs and, perhaps, doing damage once there.
Seven of Kolbe’s 12 touchdown passes last year went in the direction of Andreas, who led the Redhawks with 36 receptions for 614 yards in just seven games.
Looking to snap a two-game losing streak to Waubonsie Valley, Naperville Central plays host to the Warriors to open up the 2013 season on Aug. 30.
“It’s nice having the recruiting process over with,” Kolbe wrote. “I’m extremely excited to get my senior season under way. I will be counting down the days till we open up at home against Waubonsie!”