Receiver leads ’Cats to future season

Georgette Breen-Naylor

The Northern Michigan Wildcat football team is preparing to spring into their regular season. With 15 practices to improve, the ’Cats will finish their spring season off with a game against each other during which fans can attend to see how much progress the ’Cats have made since last season.

With some transfers coming in and freshman getting acclimated to the program, the new members of the team are looking to build chemistry with the upperclassmen on the team.

Returning from last season, senior wide receiver Christian Jessie will be one of those leaders. Although teammates said he can be quiet at times, he is a good role model. Jessie was selected for the Daktronics, Inc. All Region Four First team in 2012.

Fellow junior wide receiver Kelvin Smarwt said Jessie wants the best for everyone around him.

“He’s a great leader by example,” Smarwt said. “I think that’s why I respect him so much as a player.”

Jessie lead the team last season with 501 yards receiving and 33 catches. Jessie lead the team in receiving yards and also in touchdowns with six receiving touchdowns. Jessie also spent time returning kicks and had over 1,000 return yards with a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown.

However, Jessie hasn’t always played wide receiver. At East Kentwood High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., Jessie played quarterback, running back and defensive back.

Jessie said football has always been an important part of his life ever since he started playing at the age of nine.

“I loved watching the NFL,” Jessie said. “My mom finally decided I was old enough to play.”

Jessie said he has always loved the game of football since he was young. Playing since he was little, Jessie has also been able to continue to play a sport he loves.

“It has been one of the most important parts of my life thus far,” Jessie said. “It helped me be able to afford to go to school and get an education.”

Jessie has been through many games in his life. He may not have won all of them, but he said he has a few games he will remember forever.

“My favorite memory was my senior year in high school,” Jessie said. “We came back from a 27-point halftime deficit to beat our rival Grandville at homecoming.”

That same season, Jessie had his best individual performance. It was his first game of his senior season and Jessie ran for three touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Although he has had many on-the-field accomplishments, Jessie still continues to work hard in hopes of pursuing his dreams of making it to the NFL. Smarwt said, although the ’Cats aren’t the biggest team in the GLIAC, Jessie plays big.

“We’re not the biggest school in the country,” Smarwt said. “He still dreams big because he sets goals like making it in the NFL next year.”

Transfer sophomore quarterback Dustin Thomas said it is obvious that Jessie works hard every practice.

“I just got to Northern in the beginning of January,” Thomas said. “Christian has great work ethic and he is always smiling.”

Thomas, being a new member to the team, has gotten the chance to throw to Jessie for the past few months. Thomas said he’s a different type of receiver and that he looks forward to playing with him.

“Christian is one of the fastest receivers I’ve ever thrown to,” Thomas said. “He’s someone you can count on to go up and make a play for you.”

Jessie has been able to progress as a player since arriving at Northern and has gone up in receiving touchdowns each year since being here. Jessie said when he leaves the ’Cats, he wants to be remembered.

“Most importantly, I want to help the team compete to win a GLIAC title,” Jessie said. “For myself, I just always want to have a successful season.”

Jessie said he would like to go on to the next level after his senior season and play wide receiver and kick returner. Jessie will have one season left to impress scouts before trying out at NFL combines. Although Jessie won’t have his choice to which team he would play for, he has one in mind.

“Any team would be fine with me,” Jessie said. “I’d say the Packers because I am a huge Packer fan.”

Jessie said he has been dreaming about playing in the NFL since it inspired him to play since he was little.

Jessie will be entering his final season in the fall  with the ’Cats. He said he has hopes of accomplishing individual goals as well as helping the team achieve theirs.