Concordiaís Jasken makes switch to defense
By Eric Peterson
The Forum
Things couldnít be better for Concordia defensive end Jon Jasken these days. The team is winning, heís having a career year and the Cobbersí defense leads the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in every defensive category.

Thatís just what the Moorhead High School graduate envisioned for his senior year of football at Concordia, right? Well, not exactly.

When Jasken came to Concordia, his senior dream season would have included him catching touchdown passes from the tight end position. He had no idea he would be a key cog in Concordiaís defensive unit.

"I would have probably figured they were talking about someone else," Jasken said.

Jasken has made the transition look easy. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is tied for second on the team in sacks and leads the squad in fumble recoveries as Concordia heads into Saturdayís homecoming game against Bethel.

It wasnít until last season that Jasken entertained thoughts of moving to the defensive side. Mounting injuries on the defensive line and the solid play of tight end Nathan Merseth created a need for Jasken to help out on defense.

"It really excited me," Jasken said, "because I figured I would have more of a chance to play."

Jasken made his first defensive start against St. Thomas last year, the seasonís fifth game. Concordia coach Jim Christopherson said the initial plan was to temporarily move Jasken to defensive end and still use him on offense in double tight end and goal line sets. It didnít quite work out that way.

"He looked so good at defensive end, we couldnít afford to move him back," Christopherson said.

And Jasken hasnít looked back since the move. Despite not playing on defense full time since his freshman year in high school, Jasken looks like a natural, recording 13 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception through four games.

"Surprisingly itís gone pretty smoothly," Jasken said. "But Iím still picking up on things and learning from the other guys out here."

Jasken said heís just as pleased with the defenseís success as he is with his own. The Cobbers lead the MIAC in total defense and scoring defense.

But success is something Jasken has enjoyed throughout his athletic career. At Moorhead High, Jasken was part of the Spudsí basketball team that advanced to the Minnesota Class AA state tournament and Moorheadís football team, which made it to the final four in the Class AA playoffs.

Jasken said the way he played basketball is reminiscent of the way he plays defensive end.

"Basically my job was to fly around and knock people over ... not on purpose," said a smiling Jasken. "I had my fair share of fouls when I played. (Fouling out) was a regular occurrence; I didnít finish many games."

Although Jasken said he had fun playing basketball, he knew his hoops career was over when he finished high school.

"The whole 6-foot-2 center thing doesnít do too well at any college," Jasken said.

Jasken would like nothing better than to experience the same level of success in his senior year of college as he did in his senior year of high school.

"It would be a blast to win an MIAC title," Jasken said. "We have three big games coming up Ė weíll learn a lot about our team."

1997 Cobber Football