Playing a thinking man's game

Inside linebacker balances life in classroom and field with plenty of success.

September 04, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk,

Jeano Khajarian knows his future playing football may not extend much further past his sophomore season with Glendale Community College, which is set to begin today.

The Vaqueros inside linebacker, who previously played for Glendale High, has planned accordingly.

"[Academics] is a big part [of being here]," Khajarian says. "To get to the next level [of college football], it kind of takes some height and I don't have too much of that, so I'm trying to get my education going well.

"I know eventually I'm not going to be in the NFL, but I'm trying to keep it going with school."

The undersized but abundantly enthusiastic Khajarian's studious nature and thirst for knowledge have propelled him to a solid 3.1 grade-point average, but those same traits have also helped him maintain a central defensive role on the football field from his Pop Warner days to the Nitros and now the Vaqueros.


"You look at him physically and you think, 'God, I really wish I could find a way to replace this guy,'" Glendale college Coach John Rome says. "He's five-foot-nothing, 225 pounds and he's not fast. But he's so quick to diagnose plays because he's so smart, not only as a person, but he's also got an extremely high football IQ, so we just couldn't replace him.

"We tried to find bigger guys who looked better but nobody could replace him. …He plays much bigger and much faster than his body would normally suggest."

Blunt as they are, Rome's assessments of Khajarian's physical gifts aren't much different from what Khajarian would tell you himself.

But when asked to detail his value to the team, the Vaqueros coaching staff reserves some of its highest praise for Khajarian.

Rome cites his football IQ as being off the charts. Defensive coordinator Doug Bledsoe calls Khajarian a true leader and probably the smartest player on the field.

And on a team stocked with other experienced sophomores, Khajarian is well-respected in the locker room.

"He brings a bunch of leadership to the table," says Vaqueros sophomore offensive lineman Ronnie Marquez, who also played with Khajarian at Glendale. "He only says a few words here and there, but once he starts to talk people listen up."

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