Many assumed Murrieta Valley High’s Jack Yary would always go to USC.
His father, Ron, is Trojans royalty. He was the conference defensive lineman of the year his first year at USC and then moved to the offensive side where he became a two-time All-American, won multiple awards given to the top college lineman and helped USC win the 1967 national championship.
Ron was the No. 1 pick in the 1968 NFL draft and went on to an illustrious 15-year career. But he was content letting his son find his own way.
“He let me do my own part. Wherever I want to go,” Jack said. “That’s what I love about my dad is he left it all to me and he trusted me. He didn’t sway me anywhere. He just let me make the decision.”
Ultimately, Jack chose to continue the family tradition, announcing at the end of May his intentions to attend USC, where he practically grew up going to football games and campus events. More than the football program and its tradition, Jack chose to become a Trojan because of the school’s academic prowess.
“The all-around school is great,” he said. “It’s one of the best academic schools in the country. For me, that’s a big thing, academics. You know, life isn’t just about football. You got to have something to do after that, something that you enjoy and I think I’ll find that at USC.”
Tackle or tight end?
Where Jack differs from his father is positioning. Ron, who measured in at 6 feet 5 and 255 pounds during his playing days, was a college and pro football Hall of Fame offensive tackle.
Jack has a bigger frame at 6-6 1/2 and weighs just under 250 pounds. He is intent on being a tight end even though some think he is an ideal candidate to add some weight and become an athletic offensive tackle.
“Recent NFL drafts have shown tackles taken high were in the 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-7 range and weighed about 250 pounds [coming out of high school], almost exactly where Yary is right now,” Greg Biggins, a national analyst for 247Sports, said. “I think he has incredible upside if he wanted to go that route. He’s a big athlete who can move, is a tough kid and a willing blocker.”
Four of the first five offensive linemen selected in this year’s draft weighed 250 pounds or less coming out of high school. Four of the top six highest paid NFL offensive linemen (by average yearly salary) weighed 272 pounds or less as high school prospects.
Nate Solder and Joe Staley were both recruited as tight ends before ultimately making the switch to tackle in college.
More than a blocker
Yary is already a strong blocker but has the athleticism and hands to be a dynamic pass-catching weapon in the right offense. In Murrieta Valley’s 30-27 loss to Temecula Chaparral (6-0) last Thursday, Yary was used almost exclusively as a blocker through the first half, but he caught a pass coming across the formation and ran it in for a 15-yard touchdown just before halftime.
He added a 66-yard touchdown early in the second half and finished with four catches for 135 yards.
“I got speed and for sure if I get the ball in my hands, I could take it to the end zone, outrun [defensive backs] and then my blocking, I take pride in that,” Yary said. “My dad was a tackle, so if I don’t block good, he’s hammering me for sure when I get home and in the car on the way back.”
Yary has 26 receptions for 472 yards and 10 touchdowns through six games after catching 33 passes for 386 yards and six scores last season. Murrieta Valley (5-1) is able to move him around the field, splitting him out as a receiver, using him on the end of the line as a tight end and even putting him in the backfield as a fullback.
It’s something that is particularly intriguing with the way USC has used its tight ends this season in Graham Harrell’s version of the Air Raid offense. The Trojans’ top two tight ends, Erik Krommenhoek and Josh Falo, have similarly been moved around the formation and used to fulfill roles as in-line blockers, pass catchers and even as lead blockers coming out of the backfield.
“I can for sure line up in the slot and I can line up as H-back too and put my hand in the dirt, block in the run game. I love that,” Yary said. “They’re using tight ends and I like to see that. My philosophy is just to be so good they have to put you on the field. You just got to work your way into a spot on the field and you’ll play.”