Swedish high school football player is getting prepared to play on Saturdays

College recruiters who can speak Swedish may want to head to San Diego.

Just like the nation itself, the game of football has a long history that has been influenced tremendously by those born outside of the United States.

Knute Kenneth Rockne, one of the most celebrated college football coaches of all time, changed the way football is played. Originally born in Norway, Rockne, the head coach at Notre Dame from 1918-1930, is credited with introducing the ‘shift’ and the forward pass.

Almost 100 years later, Rockne’s legacy can still be viewed every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

If he were still alive, Rockne probably would leverage his Scandinavian ties to recruit Jordan Genmark Heath.

The senior safety at Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) was born in Sweden, where he initially began playing the American sport.

“I had been a fan of this type of football my whole life,” Heath told the San Diego Union & Tribune.

Link to original story in USA Football by Frank Bartscheck.

Although American football is not necessarily synonymous with Sweden, the country does have a national under-19 team that immediately recognized Heath’s potential. His athletic ability and passion for the sport helped him to quickly ascend the ranks and become the starting quarterback on the national team at the young age of 15.

However, Heath’s family relocated to San Diego shortly thereafter, which provided Heath an opportunity to undertake a whole new football journey.

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Jordan began playing in Sweden for the Arlanda Jets

Heath went out for the football team while a freshman at Francis Parker School. The athleticism and passion for the game he displayed while in Sweden forced coaches to elevate the freshman to starting safety on the school’s varsity team.

The pressure of performing was overwhelming and he would often throw up prior to games.

“It was nerve-racking,” Heath said.

However, those nerves never revealed themselves during competition. From the first game, Heath was a difference-maker on the field for both the offense and defense.

“It was amazing,” said John Morrison, Heath’s coach at Parker.

The Swede’s play began to draw attention locally. After two years at Parker, he transferred to perennial high school football powerhouse Cathedral Catholic.

The decision was spurred by Heath’s desire to compete against the best.

“I wanted to be challenged to be the best I could,” Heath said.

The transfer has paid dividends. While he can essentially play almost any position on the field, and often does, he has found a home as the starting safety.

“I can safely say that he’s one of the best – if not the best – secondary free safety we’ve had here,” Cathedral defensive coordinator John Montali said.

Those words should not be taken with a grain of salt. Even opposing coaches respect his abilities.

“Definitely one of the top players that I’ve seen in San Diego as far as the defensive back position,” said Helix coach Robbie Owens.

The abilities of the young Swede have landed him on the radar of numerous premier college football programs. Twenty-one different universities have offered him a scholarship, including Cal, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, San Diego State and Boston College.

The success did not come easily to Heath. When he was just 13, he already had a strict dietary and training regime in place.

“We never really pushed him to do anything,” said Heath’s step-father, Krister. “He always had this ambition. He came up with these goals for himself very early.”

The young man’s ambition combined with his physical abilities have the potential to take him far. As always, he is setting his aim very high. Heath is in position to become only the eighth player born in Sweden ever to make the NFL.

“That’s the plan,” he said.

 

USA Football
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