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BOULDER – Picture this: You’re an 18-year-old kid and a coach who has won three national championships in your lifetime knocks on your door. He’s coaching at one of the best institutions in the world, both academically and for football, and he wants you, he wants you bad. After some deliberation, you turn him down, you pledge your allegiance to your home state’s school that is coached by a man who has won just 41 percent of his games as a college coach and he has never coached in the postseason.
Who in the world would do that?
Jake Moretti did.
Moretti chose Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado Buffaloes over Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
You have to love Colorado football, not just the Buffaloes or the Broncos but the preps and the pee-wees to make a decision like that one. That’s how Moretti feels. Born and raised in the Buffalo Plains State, four-star signee Jake Moretti was born to be a Buff.
Much like former Buff and Bronco Matt McChesney was. The now owner of Six Zero Strength & Fitness has been Moretti’s trainer and mentor for quite some time, the connection between the two, both in similarity as football players and their passion for their home state is strong.
“Being a Colorado kid and going to CU and loving the Buffs like I do, to see a kid like Jake Moretti drop a school like Ohio State to go to Boulder, and me having nothing to do with it, him texting me and that’s how I find out, that makes me happy, that makes me proud,” McChesney opened up.
Perhaps nobody knows Moretti like McChesney.
Talking to the trainer you quickly learn that he will do most of the talking, he will tell you what he thinks. If he doesn’t like you, you will be out of his face. But those who challenge McChesney both mentally and physically while displaying tireless effort, those are guys whose name’s are constantly uttered from his mouth. Moretti is one of those rare names that McChesney can’t seem to say enough.
“Jake Moretti is a foundation football player,” McChesney said sitting back, popping off about one of his gym’s pupils. “That’s what I preach to everyone in this room. If a coach can recruit you then say, ‘When Moretti’s healthy I’m gonna stick his a** at right guard and we’re gonna run behind him, and I gotta find four other pieces to put around Moretti so our foundation is strong.’ That’s what I’m looking for, and that’s what Jake is.”
Much like McChesney, the young talent’s future position coach at Colorado, Klayton Adams, couldn’t help but smile when the name Moretti was verbalized anywhere near him. Adams, in his second year as the offensive line coach at Colorado, certainly hasn’t coached a kid of the caliber of Moretti. Even with Tim Lynott, a freshman all-American on his roster, Adams joined the crowd at CU’s Signing Day Celebration Luncheon in “oooohs” and “ahhhhhs” as high school highlights were played of his prized commit.
“Jake is extremely aggressive,” Adams described wide-eyed, looking ready himself to get into a pair of pads. “In fact, I remember seeing him at a camp when he was a freshman and he was just bulldozing seniors. He’s just one of those guys that when he shakes your hand he just crushes it. He’s just a naturally strong kid, and the other thing that I think I didn’t really realize because I wasn’t a line coach last year, he comes from an unbelievable family, his dad and I really hit it off, his younger brother Kyle is a really cool kid, so I just enjoy the family and you can tell when you deal with him whether it’s a visit or a home visit that he has a great family that he comes from because he’s so respectful. He holds the door open for his mom, he looks you in the eye, he’s a rare combination of aggressive, talented, all those things you want and he’s a fantastic kid.”
The kid that “everyone in Colorado knows about” according to Mike MacIntyre somehow ended up a Buff. The second best high school player in the state that every single football person in the state raves about chose MacIntyre when he could’ve chosen anyone.
Nobody knows quite what that says about him, but it says something about the fortitude of the 6-foot-5, 288-pound kid from Arvada. He took a chance on Colorado.
“I don’t know the exact date [Moretti committed], but it was sometime right before the dead period started,” MacIntyre told. “Really what happened is he called, said he was interested in talking to us about maybe coming here, and I told him, “you really need to come here with your dad and your mom”. So they came over, and honestly, this is what I told him: “I don’t want to be this knee-jerk reaction. I don’t want it to be an emotional decision. I want you to come to Colorado because you want to be here and put both feet on the ground and both feet in the boat. And we would love to have you. And I said don’t tell me an answer right now. I want you to go home, I want you to think about it, I want to make sure you’re not making some quick emotional decision off of seeing us win one game. And people go, “well why would you do that?’ Well, I want young men that really, really believe in what we’re doing. And he does. That’s how you keep a program going. That’s how you keep it and that’s how you build it. You’ll have both feet in here because not every day in college is great. You know, they think every day is going to be happy, but they’re not going to be happy every day. Understand they’ve made the commitment to be here and understand we didn’t trick them, we didn’t do anything to get them here. We just told them what the real thing is, what it’s all about, and if he believes and trusts us then he’ll be successful. So then [Moretti] called me back the next day and said, “hey, can I come back over and see you again”. He came back over, he committed and the rest is history. So to say the least, the next time I didn’t send him back home. I said, “alright, you’re here”, and I was excited about that and very happy to have a young man of his caliber and character. We want to keep the guys that we feel like fit our program, and that are the great players in the State of Colorado. We want them here to play and he was one of the ones we had targeted for a long time, so we were excited about getting him.”
It appears as though Moretti always wanted to be a Buff, he just never knew he could be one. When in the last few years would one of the best players in any given state choose Colorado over one of the blue bloods? Moretti was simply following the footsteps that were laid in front of him. That was until he realized he could be a Buff, the program that was told to him to be garbage since his days of flag football was now back on ESPN and competing for titles. MacIntyre and the 2016 ‘Rise’ Buffaloes solidified the idea, one that Moretti had instilled in him from a young age that Colorado football is something to be proud of.
“It’s about playing in front of family and friends,” Moretti explained. “I grew up here and it’s been cool watching Colorado turn it around. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing about CU that made me want to come here, like what Coach Mac’ was saying. In the end, it’s a really great overall school. It was hard to pass up on an opportunity like this.”
An opportunity to continue the lineage of mile high football, being held in the same light as fellow Pomona graduate and CU great Joel Klatt, that’s what Moretti has signed up to do.
“When I sat down in Coach Mac’s office and we talked about the future for the program, that solidified it all for me,” Moretti recalled in front of the CU media corps. “It was a mixture of weeks and days but it was a difficult decision, it’s where you are going to go to college for the next four years, obviously it’s not easy but I’m very happy with my decision.”
In Boulder Moretti has a chance to do something few have done. Born and bred Colorado football, from birth through college. Already, his commitment has had ripple effects on the rocky mountain region as eyes of fans, media member and most importantly high schoolers turn to see what is happening at Folsom Field, Moretti wants that.
“I hope my decision help builds this program not just in state but out of state too,” he said. “That top tier players will come here as this class has shown.”
Colorado had the great season last year, the one that fans had spent a decade clamoring for, but it would be too easily lost to history without great players continuing to come into the Champions Center. Moretti to Boulder is meaningful to this program in countless ways.
There is just one problem, at least for the time being. The Pomona standout tore up his knee last summer and is still recovering from the effects of that injury. Yet if the Buffs have proved anything over the tenure of MacIntyre, it’s good things can come from patience.
“I call him Jake the Mile High Mauler for a reason,” McChesney spouted. “I’ve never met a kid that’s more eager to learn and to be great than him. When he got hurt, it hurt him. A lot of guys get hurt and go, ‘Oh, I’m gonna miss the season,’ for him it was like cutting off his leg, you can’t keep him out of the gym, I love that he early enrolled at CU because they’re gonna get his hands on him and help him recover.”
McChesney, with no doubts that Moretti is fine, went on.
“It’s the same injury that Jaylon Smith had,” the fiery linemen said. “Although, I just read that he ran a 4.5 40 so that gives me a lot of hope for Jake because he had pretty much the same injury.”
Adams, like McChesney, feels no need to worry.
“He’s got to get healthy and the big thing is and it is something Jeromy Irwin and I went through this last year, when you come off a knee injury, it’s not necessarily just getting your knee right,” Adams told. “The rest of your whole lower body you have to get right because you haven’t been able to build the foundation that you want down there and that takes time. You got to make sure your back is strong and your other leg and all the muscles in that leg. We’re gonna do it right, we don’t want to put someone in the position to re-injure something.”
The story that McChesney tells that reminds him that Moretti will not only have no issue getting over his injury but will end up being special goes like this.
“The first play of your highlight tape is the most important because everyone’s highlight tape is good even if you’re a scrub,” McChesney recalled. “He flat backs a kid in a five technique, takes him drops him on the ground and puts him on the ground. (Max) Borghi takes a sweep runs behind him gets about ten yards. They start piling up, most guys watch, I was the same way, I’m not watching, if you’re standing around the pile you better have your helmet buckled up because I’m coming for you. You can’t do that anymore but it’s old school football. They’re not calling that in high school, they might call that in college but we’ll deal with that later, Jake all 300 pounds and six-foot-six of him is 25 yards down the field jumping over a pile and spearing some kid, and knocking his *** out. People are freaking out and pointing at him, his dad right away asks me ‘is this bad?’ I said ‘well, it’s bad for that kid, but this is pretty awesome.’ So when they try to take the ferocity out of football you might as well give everyone flags, you sign a liability waiver when you go to college and the NFL that says you can die doing this. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play. He’s got a big-time mountain to overcome right now and he will, I have no doubt in my mind that he will overcome it. If that kid stays healthy, I’m telling you what, I don’t know that there will be a more regarded player on the offensive line than him. When he’s an upperclassman in Boulder, that kid is going to be ****ing special, special. He might go down as the best offensive lineman they have had up there since Andre Gurode and he was a ****ing animal. Nice guy, but an animal.”
The ferocity of Moretti as a player combined with his respectful and calm demeanor off the field makes for a rare combination. Whether or not Moretti impacts the Buffs in 2017 is moot, he will some day, and his commitment to Colorado tells of a school that’s regaining their spot amongst college football’s elite. The once mighty Buffaloes are once more becoming mighty, this time it comes on the back of their reclaiming of Colorado as their state, which was proven by the unique Jake Moretti signing to play ball in Boulder.