Lincoln-Way East LB Jake Scianna finds a home at Louisville

Lincoln-Way East linebacker played through torn ACL for entire 2022 season

Lincoln-Way East’s Jake Scianna eyes the quarterback against Bolingbrook. Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Frankfort.

There were a lot of unorthodox aspects to the recruitment of Lincoln-Way East linebacker Jake Scianna.

Scianna, who suffered a torn ACL at a Kansas State exposure camp in the summer run-up to his senior season, took the path less traveled after the injury. He elected to play his senior season on the injury before having surgery immediately after he and his Griffins teammates loss in the Class 8A state championship game to Loyola.

As such, Scianna’s senior tape – despite winning the 2022 Friday Night Drive Defensive Player of the Year award – was not the best representation of what he was capable of.

“That’s what puts the grudge on my shoulder, because it’s like, these coaches are out evaluating my film, and they think this is the best this guy’s got,” Scianna said. “And I’m like, no it is not. I played with the ACL, and I think they understand that slightly, but there’s a big difference. I was not 100% last year.”

So a bit of convincing was going to be required. And although Scianna had received some other walk-on interest from Power Five schools, he had a bit of an ally residing on the Louisville coaching staff.

Karl Maslowski, Louisville’s special teams coordinator and defensive assistant, played at Lincoln-Way High School (before the school split into Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way East) and played for several of the existing members of the Lincoln-Way East staff, most notably current head coach Rob Zvonar.

“I think Coach Z’s word went a long way,” Scianna said.

The process began in early March but culminated rather quickly in an offer as a preferred walk-on to Louisville, which Scianna didn’t hesitate to accept.

“I went out there to visit, and it just really felt like home to me,” Scianna said. “It’s a great staff, and obviously it’s great to have that connection there. And having someone who will really look out for me is great.

“It’s ACC ball, and I’ve had preferred walk-on offers from some big-time schools, big schools, but I think, you know, obviously different breeds. But that challenge is definitely something that I’m willing to take on.”

Lincoln-Way East’s Jake Scianna does the traditional sledge hammer slam as the team enters the field before the game against Batavia. Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in Frankfort.

He’ll also have a little bit more time to make sure his ACL is fully ready to show the arsenal of what a healthy Scianna can do. By Scianna’s estimation, he still faces about four months of rehab until he’s fully ready to go, but the Louisville offer hinges on a unique quirk. He isn’t allowed to report to the Cardinals until Jan. 1.

If he enrolls in classes full time before then, he’d have only four years of eligibility; but if he elected to attend junior college or an online school, he’d have five years of eligibility left to claim.

Scianna hasn’t fully made that decision but is leaning toward the junior college option with a heavy dose of regular training to give himself the likeliest chance to put his best foot forward when he finally does put on a Louisville uniform for the first time.

“I think my goal is probably junior college, to be honest, and I’m going to freaking train like Rocky [Balboa] at home,” Scianna said. “I’m talking to some speed guys right now. I’m getting involved with a strength coach. And yeah, it’s gonna be like “Rocky IV″ [with the title character training old-school] in Russia or whatever. Obviously, it is going to take discipline, but I’m here for it.”

Zvonar wasn’t sure where Scianna was going to land, but two factors weighed heavily in his belief that whoever had the foresight to give Scianna a chance was unlikely to be disappointed.

“We’ve got a bit of a track record of when we place guys into programs, [those] kids are usually ready to be successful at that level,” Zvonar said. “And this kid in particular, I’d go into battle with anytime, any place.”