by Andrew Stark
During a recent Independence High School football practice, Patriots coach Bill Geiler wasn’t impressed with what he was witnessing. He wanted a more consistent and disciplined effort from his players, and turned to Jack Tocho to lead the drills.
Tocho ran the Patriots through their end-of-practice sprints. After seeing several players not going full speed, the senior defensive back declared the team would run until everyone sprinted, and again led the Patriots through the exercises.
He won every race in his heat, displaying his leadership and work ethic to his teammates.
“He should (win) – he runs a 4.37 (-second 40-yard dash),” Geiler said. “And his GPA is higher than that.”
Tocho carries a 4.6 GPA in the classroom. On the field, his speed, leadership and cover skills enabled him to record 46 tackles and five interceptions, and his combined talents have recently landed him a football scholarship to N.C. State University.
Ball State, Army, Navy, Air Force and the Charlotte 49ers joined the Wolfpack in recruiting him, but after Tocho impressed coaches at a June 10 camp, N.C. State extended an offer that he readily accepted.
Since attending his first N.C. State camp as a sophomore linebacker looking to become a defensive back, the Wolfpack has been taking notice. In subsequent visits, Tocho has gotten to know the coaches and facilities, and he has friends and family in the Raleigh-Durham area he can rely upon for support.
Recruiters started on the 6-foot senior’s trail in March, when Army offered. Soon after, others followed suit, and before long football recruiters were regularly taking him out of his honors classes to speak with him.
“It was a hectic second semester for me last year,” Tocho said. “I still was able to get all ‘A’s’ but it was getting to be too much.
“It is a big relief for me to get it over with and to know where I will be going. At first, I wanted to wait until the end of the season, but that means other people who want my spot (at N.C. State) would have a chance at it. By committing, I know I have a spot and can concentrate on playing.”
On the field, Tocho will return kicks and punts as well as play cornerback. He is excited for his heightened responsibilities and embraces his role as team leader.
“If I am doing it the correct way, then everyone will hopefully follow suit,” Tocho said. “I know I have to step up and make sure I am doing all that I can to be a leader. I feel like if I am making the rules, I need to follow them and make everyone realize I am working hard.”
Tocho said that before this season he has always had to work for his place on the field and it seemed there was always someone before him. Now, he knows he is the team leader off the field and is looking to lead the Patriots on it as well.
“I am a good athlete who works hard, attacks the weight room and is always staying focused on the field.” Tocho said. “I am excited about this year and about knowing where I will play next year.”