Iowa State recruit Jack Sadowsky catches on for Batavia

Do you know me?

More than once in the past two seasons, senior linebacker Jack Sadowsky has had the chance to ponder that question as a standout for Batavia’s defense.

The answer is, yes, they do.

The Iowa State recruit actually considered giving up football in junior high, but doesn’t have any doubts now and hasn’t for a long time. He will graduate early next month and begin college classes in January on campus in Ames.

Batavia linebacker Jack Sadowsky wraps up Wheaton North's Brayton Maske in overtime during a DuKane Conference game on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

Meanwhile, Sadowsky and the Bulldogs are one win away from reaching the Class 7A state championship game at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend.

Batavia (9-3) travels to Lake Zurich (11-1) for a 4 p.m. kickoff Saturday in the state semifinals.

How did Sadowsky get here? Fascinating.

Initially known as the “other middle linebacker” in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense, Sadowsky began to break out as a junior in 2021. He started alongside longtime workout partner Tyler Jansey and was poised to garner some attention.

On varsity since freshman year and a starter since he was a sophomore, Jansey played the strong side and got on the radar of many college recruiters. Sadowsky started at weakside middle linebacker.

“No one really knew about me,” Sadowsky said. “I didn’t have any accolades, so teams would run to my side.”

Batavia's Jack Sadowsky (6) goes low and Joey Barbush (81) goes high to bring down Yorkville running back Gio Zeman (32) during a Class 7A state quarterfinal game on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

It gave the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Sadowsky plenty of opportunities. He posted 81 tackles, with 20 1/2 for loss. He said his tackle-for-loss numbers benefited from defensive coordinator Matt Holm calling on him often to blitz.

The 6-1, 220-pound Jansey, who led the team with 88 tackles, committed last January to Wisconsin.

Shortly before Batavia’s seventh game last season, Central Michigan invited Sadowsky for a game-day visit to the Mid-American Conference school.

“I went there, but they didn’t offer me and didn’t really seem interested,” Sadowsky said. “None of the coaches really talked to me.”

Within two weeks, Iowa State’s recruiting coordinator extended a similar invite to the Big 12 school. But first, Sadowsky had to do some homework.

“I don’t watch a lot of football,” he said. “I know it’s weird. I love playing it, but I don’t watch much, so the first thing I did was look up if they were D-I.”

Batavia's Jack Sadowsky, right, and Phillips' Reginald Fox chase a loose ball during a nonconference game on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Long story short?

Sadowsky, who was stunned to be offered on his visit, began learning more about coach Matt Campbell’s program.

“They found me because they were looking at Jansey and they saw the guy next to him and thought he’d fit their program,” Sadowsky said. “That’s how I ended up getting recruited. Before that, I had no attention at all.”

By last April, Sadowsky committed. He plans to pursue an engineering degree.

Quite a journey for someone who was a wide receiver in junior high but outgrew the position, struggled at tight end, and then settled in on defense after falling in love with weightlifting.

“I was a pretty good receiver, then I got bigger and lost my hands,” Sadowsky said. “I can’t catch.”

Sadowsky and Jansey would ride their bikes to a gym for 7 a.m. workouts in the summers.

“At some point, it clicked in my mind, ‘I want to be great at something,’” Sadowsky said. “And I turned to football.”

Batavia linebacker Jack Sadowsky (6) tackles St. Charles North running back Drew Surges (6, in black) during their game on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

After that junior season, though, he had what he thought was a nagging foot injury checked out. The MRI revealed three stress fractures in his right foot.

It kept Sadowsky from running for most of the offseason and summer camp.

“That’s usually when you bulletproof your body, try to make everything perfect,” Sadowsky said. “I was kind of falling apart. (Holm) started calling me ‘Grandpa.’ I had a slow start and missed a game with sickness.

“Finally, the last few weeks, I’m where I need to be.”

Nine tackles with three for loss, an interception and blocked field goal in last week’s playoff 17-6 win over Yorkville would say that’s true.

“He’s battled and he plays hard,” Holm said of Sadowsky. “He hated sitting out all summer.”

Having Jansey and Sadowsky together makes Holm smile.

“They make me look pretty darn good,” Holm said. “There’s all kinds of fun things we can do with them as a starting point. And the best part is, they’re tremendous guys.”

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