STAYING THE COURSE: Jalen Coker continues to learn, grow and enjoy the moment

Coker wants to make it clear that he is more than just your friendly neighborhood football player. He loves superheroes, he loves cartoons, he loves art, he loves to draw, he loves to listen to music. In all areas of his life, Coker is a goofy, fun-loving, compassionate person. He prides himself in working hard, but never at the expense of enjoying and embracing every single minute he gets to set foot on the field.

Growing up, Coker played a number of sports, but football was most special to him. His father was a football player, and that love of the game, coupled with his entire family’s passion for the sport, inspired Coker.

“Ever since I touched the field, I felt like I belonged,” Coker said. “That’s where I felt the most comfortable. As soon as I stepped on the field, I felt like I could do pretty much anything I wanted.”

He is motivated by his family, his coaches and his teammates. Holy Cross is the best place to be, he says, because every single person on the team, even if they’re injured or not playing, embraces their spot on the team and works their hardest. “Everyone has a role,” he said.

Coker references former Holy Cross wide receiver Tenio Ayeni as one of his biggest mentors in his Holy Cross career so far — the two have similar personalities, and Ayeni taught him how to be resilient, stay focused and approach the game of football honestly and realistically.

“He taught me, ‘this is what it’s going to be — you can either do it, or you can’t do it,’” Coker said.

Coker has maintained his focus through the ups and downs of adjusting to college football and through the highs and lows of each game and each practice. Interviews and recognition will happen, and the good and bad will come with all of that, but the key is to stay humble and keep growing and learning.

“I still have so much more work to do,” he says. “I have so many more things that I want to accomplish.”

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