Jake Wieneke’s stats at South Dakota State sum up the kind of player he is on the field. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver had 288 career receptions for 5,157 yards and 59 touchdowns. He’s an all-American, a Walter Payton Award Finalist for FCS offensive player of the year and a winner of freshmen of the year awards. He shredded Big 12 and SEC teams with performances like eight catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns against Texas Christian as a junior, eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas as a sophomore and six catches for 107 yards against Missouri as a freshman.
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But none of those numbers tell the story of who Jake Wieneke really is. You get the sense he’s a humble guy with his postgame press conference comments. If you peel the onion back even more, though, Jake Wieneke is a guy who isn’t afraid to talk about his faith in God and how it impacts his everyday life.
He’s mostly known as a projected fifth or sixth round NFL Draft pick, according to NFL.com. But Wieneke also wants people to know how he got to this point.
“It’s the most important thing to me and I love to talk about and share my faith and help others out,” Wieneke told HERO Sports. “I love helping other people grow from similar or different walks of life than me.”
A Maple Grove, Minnesota, native, Wieneke grew up going to church and said he had great parents to mold him. It was when he went to SDSU when his faith really became his own. He found a church, teammates who shared his same religious beliefs and also became involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
It changed his life, he said.
“It gave me peace and a purpose that I never really had before,” Wieneke said. “In high school, even when I thought I was living a good Christian life, I was kind of just doing what I wanted to do. When I got to college, I knew what God wanted me to do. I pursued that and started living for Him. Everything I do and everything I say is for the Lord. It’s really not me doing it all, it’s the Lord. Having that peace and that confidence and that joy about my day, it changed my outlook on everything I do.”
Wieneke began to make a name for himself as a redshirt freshman on the gridiron and went on to be an all-American for four seasons. He also started making an impact in Brookings with community involvement. In 2017, he was one of 22 college football players to be named on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his work in the community.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 3, 2018
“With (head coach John Stiegelmeier), I knew when I went to South Dakota State, I knew it was going to be somewhere that I can grow as a football player, but also as a man,” Wieneke said. “From the moment I stepped on campus, coach Stig and the entire coaching staff were mentors to me for football, but also in life and making me grow in so many ways, from my faith to getting involved in the community.”
Wieneke became a top FCS prospect on NFL radars. After his Jackrabbit career ended in the FCS semifinals, he began training in Dallas and was invited to the NFL Combine. There, his faith helped him through a challenging week. His performance graded him at a 5.12, which is on the lower end of the NFL.com Grading Scale.
“That’s the only way I was able to go through the Combine, was with that peace and joy,” Wieneke said. “I had a lot of people praying for me. I know for a fact that’s the only reason I was able to do that. There were some things that I went through that week that might not be considered fun or enjoyable. But I really had a lot of fun and enjoyed all those times. I know that was from the Lord and the people praying for me.”
Despite not knowing which city he’ll end up in or when he’ll be drafted, Wieneke said he isn’t getting stressed about the uncertainties. His SDSU teammate Dallas Goedert, who some draft experts have as the No. 1 tight end prospect, is also going through the same thing. The two have exchanged texts multiple times and got to catch up at the Combine.
Wieneke is now finishing up his workouts in Dallas and is returning to SDSU for his pro day on March 30. It’s where he found his new outlook on life that gave him peace and a purpose. And it’s that attitude he’s held onto throughout the draft process.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this,” Wieneke said. “I have a lot of people texting me, encouraging me, praying for me. They’re giving me words of encouragement and telling me to enjoy it. Not everyone gets to be able to do this and get this opportunity. So I’m trying to cherish and enjoy it.”