Camas graduate Jack Colletto ready for his NFL opportunity

Oregon State’s Jack Colletto, who led Camas to a state football championship in 2016, expects to get a shot with an NFL team. Photo by Karl Maasdam/Courtesy OSU Athletics
Oregon State’s Jack Colletto, who led Camas to a state football championship in 2016, expects to get a shot with an NFL team. Photo by Karl Maasdam/Courtesy OSU Athletics

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, and it is possible that Jack Colletto will be selected by Saturday

Paul Valencia

Jack Colletto has no idea where he will be living in the near future, but he is confident he will be right where he is supposed to be, even if his journey took an unorthodox route.

“Wherever my truck is parked, that’s where home is,” Colletto said earlier this month, taking a break from training.

He expects his truck to be in an NFL city soon enough. 

Colletto, a 2017 graduate of Camas High School, became one of the biggest names in college football this past season for his multipurpose talents. 

The Jackhammer won the Paul Hornung Award for being the sport’s most versatile player. He played linebacker on defense, was an ace on special teams, and of course, he was instrumental in Oregon State’s short-yardage sets on offense, scoring six touchdowns and converting first down after first down. The Beavers went 10-3 — the most wins for the program since 2006 — including a victory over rival Oregon and a win in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The total package — size, strength, football IQ, and versatility — has Colletto just days away from an opportunity in the National Football League. 

The NFL Draft starts Thursday. No one expects Colletto to be selected in the first round Thursday. It is unlikely that Colletto goes on Friday in the second or third rounds. But it is very possible that he is drafted on Saturday in the final four rounds. And even if his name is not called, look for Colletto to be signed as an undrafted free agent.

All indications suggest Colletto will be in an NFL camp this summer.

Which was the plan going all the way back to high school. Only back then, he believed he was going to make it as a quarterback. 

Jack Colletto’s story is that of adjustments, acceptance, and the ability to remain focused on the ultimate prize.

He has always believed he had the wherewithal to play on Sundays.

“I was so set on being a quarterback,” Colletto acknowledged. “That was my intention when I went to junior college. My whole mindset, ‘If you run through the wall enough times, that wall will break.’ It got me to where I was. It got me to Oregon State.”

Jack Colletto, the Jackhammer, won the Paul Hornung Award for being college football’s most versatile player. Photo by Karl Maasdam/Courtesy OSU Athletics
Jack Colletto, the Jackhammer, won the Paul Hornung Award for being college football’s most versatile player. Photo by Karl Maasdam/Courtesy OSU Athletics

Colletto took over as the starting quarterback at Camas High School his senior year — the fall of 2016 — and led the Papermakers to their first state championship in the sport. Camas went 14-0 that year, and Colletto did it all, including the game-sealing interception while playing defense.

He had Division-I offers out of high school, too, but not necessarily for quarterback. So the Washington state high school player of the year chose Arizona Western, a junior college, in order to play quarterback.

He appeared in 10 games there his freshman year, and that was enough for Oregon State to offer him a chance to play quarterback for the Beavers.

“When I got there, I didn’t perform the way I thought I would or was capable of,” Colletto said of his early days in Corvallis. “I kept trying to run my head through the wall, but it just didn’t break.”

Colletto noted there is a very short time period to prove to the coaches what one can do, and if they don’t see something special in a hurry, well …

“I felt the writing on the wall in terms of it was time to move on,” Colletto said.

It stung a bit. The future was unclear. 

Colletto still had big dreams, though.

“I’ve always believed I was good enough in many regards to make the NFL,” he said. “I could run the ball and do stuff. I still had an ability to do that. I still felt I was athletic enough to compete with all the guys. I don’t think the vision really changed. It became me seeking another path to get there.

“Ultimately, in my eyes, I didn’t feel like my future was in my control,” he said if he remained a quarterback. “I didn’t have control over my future. I needed to do something where I had more control of it.”

He asked Jonathan Smith, the head coach, if he could switch to linebacker. It was an odd request, but Smith and the other coaches had an open mind. Colletto started learning Oregon State’s defense, but the offensive coaches made sure that Colletto, a battering ram while running the ball on short-yardage situations, would still be available to them.

“It blew up to what it is today,” Colletto said.

In all, according to the Paul Hornung Award press release, Colletto played nine positions for Oregon State during the 2022 campaign. That included fullback and H-back. Fullback is the most likely spot for Colletto in the NFL. That, and continue to be a special teams ace.

“I don’t care how I get on the field. I just want to get on the field and play,” Colletto said. “I’ve always had to wait, wait, wait. If you can be on the field competing, it’s a lot better than standing and watching. What does it matter what (position) you play?”

The end of his college career, in fact, was reminiscent of how he finished his high school career. Colletto waited patiently for his opportunity at Camas. He was not the starting quarterback until his senior year. Then, Boom!, the best player in the state.

“All it takes is that one year,” he said. “It was quiet, quiet, quiet, and then it just explodes,” Colletto said.

That one shining season at Oregon State has opened a lot of eyes around the NFL. Colletto visited the New York Jets and Denver Broncos. He has talked with several other teams, as well.

Still, he has been cautioned not to put too much stock into one visit, one conversation over any other. The draft is unpredictable, especially in the later rounds. 

“Going through the process, a lot of teams have a lot of different ways of how they evaluate,” Colletto said. “For example, if a team doesn’t talk to you, that can mean they aren’t interested in you, or they don’t want other teams to know they are interested in you.”

Colletto said he will be in Poulsbo, Wash., with his dad during the draft. Colletto will be keeping tabs on the draft, especially on Saturday. However, he said he will not try to overthink anything. 

“You can speculate all you want, but you never know until it actually happens,” he said.

Colletto’s focus is to be ready for anything. If he’s drafted, great. If he signs as a free agent, great. 

From there, he will be in control of his destiny.

“All I want is an opportunity,” Colletto said. “Whoever calls and picks me up, take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.”

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