Every football team has one. It’s a matter of whether he’s talented enough to make others follow his lead.
These players are mature beyond their years, well-spoken, respectful, hard-working and, above all else, intelligent. They attack any challenge with vigor, ready to overcome it and move on to the next one.
Medina running back/quarterback/Swiss Army knife Jerry Klue fits the bill perfectly. He wasn’t born this way. He was molded this way.
The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder is the son of a law enforcement official. His father, who also is his namesake, is Commander of Protective Services at Summa Hospital in Medina and the director of Medina County Safe Communities based out of the Brunswick Police Department. He previously was a patrolman in Medina and the school resource officer at Medina High.
“Growing up, I was not held back, but I had a lot more rules,” the younger Klue said. “Not that they were bad, but he holds me up to a higher standard, and I thank him for that. It definitely helps discipline-wise, following directions, things like that.”
It doesn’t end there, as Klue is a triplet. With their names paying homage to the family’s Ukrainian heritage, Knesia is a standout volleyball player and Oksana is one of Medina’s student-trainers as well as a thespian.
Jerry initially was supposed to have a Ukrainian name as well — for whatever reason, he’s too embarrassed to say what it was — and embraces the uniqueness that comes with being a triplet. He’s also incredibly close with his sisters, who aren’t afraid to keep him in line if need be.
The catch is they don’t have to.
“It’s definitely unique,” Klue said. “People ask us all the time if we think what the other is thinking, so it’s pretty funny. It’s nice.
“Me and my sisters have a lot of the same friends, so I’m always around my sisters. It’s pretty cool. We’re really close.”
Klue’s personality translates to the football field in the form of invaluable leadership. It’s a role he has grown into, but the transition was slightly difficult at first.
Klue will never be confused with a gabber, but when he talks, people listen. After what the Bees have endured the past two-plus seasons — they’re 7-16 since beating Canton McKinley in the 2010 playoffs — Klue is the heart and soul of a program that fully believes it is on the rise.
“First of all, he’s one of our captains, is quiet and does things the right way,” second-year Bees coach Dan Sutherland said. “He works hard on the practice field, in the weight room and in the classroom.
“He’s just one of those kids you wish you had more of because of what he does on the field, off the field and how he presents himself and carries himself. He’s a great kid all-around.”
Failing to consistently win hasn’t been Klue’s only adversity. He’s been oft-injured over the past two years and played through pain on multiple occasions. The honorable mention All-Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division selection also doesn’t know what position he’ll play from week to week, be it quarterback, fullback, tailback or wingback.
Through it all, he’s never complained and has been the bright spot of a slowly improving offense.
“It’s been a challenge because instead of being able to focus on one specific thing, I’ll work on one thing for a while and, right when I think I’m getting the hang of it, I’ll have to switch,” he said. “But I also think it’s a good thing because (the coaches) trust me to play different positions.”
Last season, Klue began the year at quarterback and was moved to tailback following a knee injury to Emerson Buckland. He finished the year with team highs in carries (155) and rushing yards (592), completed 5-of-13 passes for 29 yards and added 13 receptions for 75 yards.
Those numbers have improved for the well-built senior with a 300-pound-plus bench press, as he’s coming off a wild 56-7 win over Eastlake North in which he scored three touchdowns and racked up 186 yards from scrimmage on just eight touches.
It was exactly what Medina needed heading into tonight’s non-league showdown with longtime Medina County rival Wadsworth.
“It was the biggest confidence-booster ever,” Klue said. “To be honest, I think everybody just had fun.”
Klue, who has a supreme sense of patriotism, has his sights set on playing for Army or Air Force, where he’ll major in mechanical engineering with the hopes of becoming a helicopter pilot. He’s been contacted by the Army coaching staff, but playing football at a Division III school is more than an acceptable option if the D-I dreams don’t come true.
In the meantime, Klue is focused on getting Medina back on track — one game at a time.
“We’ve been through a lot more than other teams,” he said. “No matter what we accomplish, it’s going to be better than we had before. The more we accomplish, the better we all feel. The sky’s the limit for what we can do.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.