As Jesiah Irish sat in the grandstand and watched the Mount Si High football players participate in spring practice on a recent Thursday afternoon, he smiled and stretched his arms several times. He looked ready to get in on the action.
The field was his second home for the last three years and the recent Wildcat graduate got one last taste of the stadium before heading off to play football at Oregon State University. He’s set to depart for Corvallis on June 24 to kick his full-ride scholarship into gear.
The 6-foot, 175-pound wide receiver/safety graduated on June 8 and has been running routes on the Ridge fields and studying the OSU playbook. He’ll take part in walk-throughs and weightlifting when he arrives in Corvallis. He’ll also be taking sociology and communications classes over the summer to get a head start with the books.
“I like football, so whatever I have to do to play football, that’s kind of been my mindset my whole life. I’m pretty excited for this kind of opportunity and this new change, kind of a new life starting here next Sunday, so it will be fun,” said Irish, who will study in the OSU business school and hopes to intern with Nike or Adidas.
Irish played for three years on the Wildcat varsity squad and was a first-team 4A KingCo athlete the last two years, a first-team KingCo wide receiver his junior season and a second-team KingCo safety his senior season. He was a first-team all-state receiver his junior year and during his sophomore year, he split time at quarterback with Harrison Danna.
“Coach (Charlie) Kinnune and his staff and the lifting coach got me prepared (for) the next level and that was really important,” Irish said. “I think this program helped me a lot, shaped how I turned out for the last couple years of my high school career. It’s been a great time and I’ll definitely miss it, but I’m excited for a new start.”
Irish, who also played basketball and ran track this season, visited the University of Hawaii in early December and clicked with receivers coach Kefense Hynson. He was close to committing to Hawaii, but during his OSU visit the following week, he learned from other recruits and coaches that Hynson took the receivers coach job at OSU.
“So that was really key in my decision, along with the town. Coach (Jonathan) Smith, he brought in a ton of great coaches and I figure they’re gonna be there for the next four or five years. Coach Smith lived that experience, he played there, he won some big games at Oregon State. Everything kind of just worked, everything happened at the right time,” Irish said.
Along with football, Irish appreciates how coach Kinnune emphasized time management and how to interact with people during their time together from eighth grade until now. By instilling those key values into his players, Irish feels he and Kinnune have built a relationship that will be long-lasting.
Kinnune said in an email: “I have known Jesiah since he was a little boy attending my youth camps. Jesiah is an awesome young man who has over obvious physical talents. What his teammates and Beaver Nation will find out soon is what a genuine, purposeful young man he is. He will serve his teammates, coaches and community with every fiber of his body!”
Irish possesses tons of speed and said he’ll put his body on the line for his team and do whatever it takes to win and score touchdowns.
“When the quarterback throws the ball in the air, I’m gonna try my hardest to go get it. It could be one defender, two defenders, three defenders, I’ll try to get the ball — no matter what,” he said.
After the Record interview was complete, Irish hit the field and threw some passes to players who are set to follow in his footsteps. Irish looked content to be where he was at that moment — and getting set for his future.
The Record asked Irish a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?
JI: I gotta go with Ana’s Mexican. I’ve known Ana for a long time and we get free food there every week. Every football season during two-days, we’d go there in between practices and get Mexican.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
JI: The kids that showboat, but they haven’t really proved themselves yet on the football field or kind of in class and stuff like that. People who haven’t really earned it yet.
What’s your dream vacation spot?
JI: I’ve always wanted to go to Belize, I think that would be really cool. Africa would be pretty cool, just go on the safaris. We’ll see. I like to travel.
What’s something unique about yourself that maybe people wouldn’t know about?
JI: I like to do abstract drawings a lot, (during) free time in class or free time at home.
Who was your idol growing up?
JI: Peyton Manning. I loved everything that he did, I watched every game of his, learning how to become humble and stay like that. Watched Peyton play, listened to him talk, and instilled a lot of things that he did and felt that was a good role model for me.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
JI: ”Harry Potter” for sure. I’ve read most of the books, I’ve watched every single movie a hundred times. I love those movies, I can always watch those movies.
Who’s your favorite musical artist?
JI: Wiz Khalifa is probably my favorite artist right now, hip-hop artist.