In an era of self-promotion and bare-all 24-hour social media onslaughts, Omaha Westside running back Jaden Kohls is a rarity.
“Extremely quiet, introverted,” said Westside head football coach Brett Froendt. “You won’t see him psyching the kids up, psyching himself up. Just a quiet, hard competitor.”
In 2017, Kohls’ play on the field has said plenty. In week two against Millard South, Kohls scored six touchdowns. It was a new school record.
Jaden Kohls with his 6th TD of the first half. This one as time expired in the half. #nebpreps pic.twitter.com/GNmzKQF10g
— MikeSautterOWH (@MikeSautterOWH) September 1, 2017
But check his Twitter timeline. You won’t see him mention it anywhere. Sure, he’s re-tweeted a couple of articles about himself, but his most frequent tweets are birthday wishes to his friends.
Kohls’ start to the season has been so impressive that it’s easy to find those articles to re-tweet. Media attention comes fast with eye-popping stat lines. But his 11 touchdowns in three games aren’t much of a surprise to his coach.
“Had anybody talked to me early in the year, I’d have told them all about Jaden Kohls,” Froendt said. “We knew this would happen. We knew he would have a good year, especially putting him in the I-back role.”
The team’s needs allowed the move to running back from slot receiver, which Kohls played in 2016. And Kohls is no stranger to change.
Over the next few years, his family moved back to Lincoln, then back to Aurora. It was there that he saw his uncle, Micah Kohls, win Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball. It’s something young Kohls remembers wanting to emulate.
The family left Aurora again, this time moving to Omaha, where Kohls attended Westside in eighth grade. More moves awaited.
Kohls transferred to Omaha Northwest following his freshman year, a switch Froendt said was motivated by basketball. But after spending his sophomore year at Northwest, and refocusing on the gridiron, Kohls moved back to Westside.
He said he felt a stronger connection to the football program at Westside, and he found chemistry with quarterback Dylan Plautz and receiver Caleb Schweigert.
“In the offseason we work together a lot,” Kohls said. “It’s just like, kind of a trio. We’re pretty tight, on and off the field.”
The on-field work he put in with The Trio is paying off. With his good performance last year on both sides of the ball, and his magnificent start to 2017, the scouts have shown up.
With eight touchdowns in two games, Westside’s Jaden Kohls hopes that success brings more attention from colleges https://t.co/T7o27DRfjX pic.twitter.com/0Errxiay6g
— NebHSRecruiting (@NEBHSRecruits) September 7, 2017
“We’ve had a lot of guys in to look at him,” Froendt said. “He’s got all the measurements of a defensive guy, safety or corner. But his heart is in the offensive side.”
Froendt is one of few who knows where Kohls’ heart is, and even he admits that Kohls is hard to read. Froendt says Kohls’ reserved nature may stem somewhat from moving from place to place as a child, which he also feels is a motivating factor.
Kohls is highly motivated both on the field and in the classroom. His head coach had high praise for Kohls’ academic work. He said Kohls is a dedicated student, often forgoing the distractions of high school life to crack the books. Though Kohls is not sure where he’d like to go to college just yet, he’s got an idea of what he’d like to do once he gets there.
“I think I’ll go pre-med, maybe be an anesthesiologist,” Kohls said. “I don’t think I could work on people, being a surgeon. That would be too nerve-wracking.”
Two careers that require dedication and intelligence — qualities that have been a boon for the Warriors on the field.
“You only have to tell him something once or twice and he knows exactly what to do,” Froendt said.
Kohls presents a rare trio of talents: a blend of speed, agility, and smarts. With numbers like Kohls is racking up week after week, not much needs to be said. His play speaks for itself.
Just give him the ball. He knows exactly what to do.
Watch Jaden and Omaha Westside take on Omaha Central Friday night at 7:00 CST on YurView and YurView.com.