Like a mountain goat perched atop a sunlit bluff, a fu manchu rests on Jake Sopko’s upper lip. For this, his Junior campaign at Higher Ground, Sopko shaped his mustache into this form, a nod to a bygone era of facial hair.
Other changes are immediately noticeable about Sopko, too. He’s added muscle definition to his 6’2” frame, quickened his reps under center, and he’s throwing the ball with more pace and precision. When asked about his role this season, Jake’s affection for his teammates was evident. In a quarterback room crowded with talent, Sopko said he just “hoped to add value” and “be a reliable option,” if called upon. Regardless of where he lands on the 2019 depth chart, the Bearcats are a much better team with guys like Jake in the mix.
He landed at the University of Cincinnati by way of metro-Cleveland. Sopko racked up impressive numbers playing at Avon High School during his prep career. Finishing with 6,447 passing yards, 64 passing touchdowns, and a miserly 11 interceptions, Mr. Sopko flat gorged on Lorain County secondaries.
He’s already finished his undergraduate degree in Communications and starts his Masters of Business Administration in a couple of weeks. Junior TE Bruno Labelle also begins his MBA program this semester, so Jake will have company in the newly-renovated Lindner Hall. Like both of his parents, Steve and Shelley, he expects to be in sales or “to maybe do something in sports like you,” Jake says gesturing in my direction. He’s hired!
The creases of his smile expand, stretching his mustache horizontally, when I asked him whether there’s a Future-Mrs.-Sopko in his life. Nodding, he laughs, “No, there is not … can you tweet that out to your followers?” So ladies, QB Jake Sopko is single and ready to mingle…
Winding down the interview, I asked Jake a series of questions in rapid fire succession. Some of these questions will be recycled and asked of other players, and I’ll expand the list to keep guys on their toes. But this new feature is something I am calling … THE HAWTT SEAT©️. I know, I know, its uninspired but just go with it for now.
- Question One – If you could meet one person, any person, dead or alive, who would it be?
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady because he’s the goat.
- Question Two – What is your greatest fear?
Heights. I’m terrified of heights.
- Question Three – Which car most resembles the 2019 Bearcats team?
An early 2000s Ford F-150 because it may not look flashy but it’s tough and it’ll run you over.
Candidly, I was not expecting his response to Question Three. Not only did he quickly volunteer an unexpected make and model (Ford F-150), but he provided a precise date range (early 2000s) coupled with a good explanation. It was as if he’d already considered and rehearsed responding to the strange question. Should his number be called upon this season, we can only hope Sopko looks as comfortable and rehearsed under center as he did interacting with me.
Because he plays with a C Paw on the side of his helmet and Cincinnati across his chest, I was already going to be rooting for him. Having spent time with him, I’m cheering for his success all the more this season.
By Brian Fox
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