College football: Former North Newton teammates playing together at St. Joe’s
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent September 22, 2013 11:56PM
Midkiff,Brent — St. Joseph's College
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:33AM
The transition from high school to college athletics is always an interesting journey, and often challenging, regardless of the sport.
But that transition for Brent Midkiff and Jeremy Jones, both freshmen this year on the football team at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, has been smoother — and not just because the two played football together for four years at North Newton High School.
Both natives of Roselawn, Midkiff and Jones have been friends since kindergarten. Their friendship deepened when Midkiff joined Jones in playing football in sixth grade before eventually both starring for the Spartans.
Jones (linebacker) was a four-year starter in high school, and Midkiff (lineman) played his final three years of high school on varsity. While both admit adapting to college football as freshmen has had its challenges, each are grateful their friendship to help the adjustment period.
“Going to college with a friend and teammate makes the transition easier,” Midkiff said. “We’re taking it one day at a time and working our butts off. We’re rooming together. He played Pop Warner, and I didn’t start playing until sixth grade. We started in junior high together and we’ve been really close since.”
Jones said he had been trying to get Midkiff to play Pop Warner when they were kids, but it took him a while to finally come around to football. Over time, they’ve found they have much in common, on and off the field.
“We meet the same kind of friends we usually don’t meet on our own,” Jones said. “It was pretty exciting when he decided to play because I’d been trying to get him to play Pop Warner with me for all those years. He just didn’t want to. But we’re in a perfect spot; we like to be able to go home, but we both want that college experience of being on your own. We’re just far enough to be away from home, but we’re close enough if we need to go home.”
Being away from home, both agree, is beneficial to learning a higher level of football.
“It’s different, I’ll say that,” Midkiff said. “Going from playing high school football at a small 2A school to an NCAA Division II school is a big change. We used to play next to each other on defense. This year, I think it will be a development year for both of us. I don’t think we’ll get serious playing reps until next year. This year is just the experience of us getting used to a new system. We’re learning a lot of new stuff over again. It’s a leap.”
Jones likes what he sees in the nuances of the college game.
“The speed and tempo of the game is completely different on the college level,” Jones said. “I love it; it’s smooth and clean. No one is ever perfect, so there’s always room for improvement. All and all, it’s been a good experience so far.
“The opportunity to get on the field has been a little slower than I had hoped, but I’ll be ready when my chance comes. I understand there’s a learning curve. I moved around a lot in high school. This is just another a chapter of life you have to get through.”
Both definitely took a liking to the campus and the recruiting process.
“We visited here a couple of times and watched a couple of games, and we really like the attention we both received,” Midkiff said. “(Assistant) Coach (Daniel) Day was always calling us and asking us how we were doing. The atmosphere at St. Joseph’s is great, and all the people are nice. The coaches are great, and the team is very close. It’s a family oriented environment. That really shaped our minds to coming here.”
Head coach Cory Sanders said that both Jones and Midkiff are solid, hard-working kids who possess great character and discipline.
“Those qualities were immediately demonstrated during the recruiting process,” he said. “It’s a process for any freshmen to come in and get adapted to any college program — how rigorous it is. But they’re learning, adapting and getting used to the program. I think they’re doing a great job so far.”