NAPERVILLE – It took a few years, but Jason Callahan is happy with his current football situation.
The 2008 Glenbard East graduate first landed as a walk-on at Western Illinois University. Despite dressing for all of the games, he never saw the field.
After spending 2½ years on the scout team, Callahan didn’t think he was getting a fair shot and decided it was time for a change. He contacted his former teammate at WIU, Jordan Tassio, who had transferred to North Central College.
“A big reason why I went to North Central was because my buddy Jordan Tassio went to Western Illinois with me,” Callahan said. “He ended up transferring before me. I think he played (at North Central) for a year or two and then I got in touch with him.”
Tassio, who played his final season with the Cardinals last fall, started at running back for three years. On Tassio’s recommendation, Callahan got in touch with head coach John Thorne at North Central and enrolled.
Last season, Callahan saw action exclusively on special teams, but was on the field for all special teams plays and made 12 tackles and forced a fumble. He impressed coaches with his tackling ability and the Cardinals’ staff decided to move him from wide receiver to outside linebacker this offseason.
“This will be my first year since high school playing outside linebacker,” Callahan said. “I just feel way more comfortable making the tackle than being the guy getting tackled. I’m just looking forward to helping the defense out.”
With an eye on starting at linebacker, Callahan is hoping to help the Cardinals win another College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title. North Central has won at least a share of seven straight CCIW titles.
“They’re always No. 1 in the CCIW and they have a good shot at being in the running for national championship,” Callahan said. “At North Central we’re always competing for something.”
After competing in football, wrestling and baseball at Glenbard East, Callahan said he misses those other sports, but his body wouldn’t be able to handle the wear and tear of multiple college sports. The exercise science major plans to graduate in the winter and hopes to train athletes, either as a coach or in physical therapy.
“I think high school is a great time to experiment, but college is a time to do what you enjoy the most,” Callahan said. “Football is what I love the most. It’s my favorite sport.”