No football player recorded as many sacks as Ja’Sion Greathouse last year.
The star defensive end for Itasca Community College recorded an exceptional 20.5 sacks in only nine games. He also recorded 55 tackles and 34 solo tackles, as well as three fumble recoveries, including one returned fumble for a touchdown.
His performance led to him being named NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Greathouse’s football career is just beginning to blossom, but his journey to Itasca Community College was a difficult one.
As a high school student in Chicago, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker/defensive end showed immense potential on the football field, but all was not well. His home life was unstable, and as a result, Greathouse needed to set his education and football career aside.
The path back to the football field, however, wasn’t easy. He had to overcome an extraordinary amount of adversity to get where he is today.
Greathouse started his football career in the eighth grade with Chicago’s Fosco Park Chargers. By his sophomore year, he began to catch the eye of Division I college football programs.
At the time, Greathouse was living with his grandmother. When he was 17 years old, his grandmother passed away. The loss affected him greatly.
With nowhere to go, Greathouse joined the Air Force when he was 17 years old. Although it provided the stability and direction he needed, he couldn’t help but think he could be more productive elsewhere.
He decided to move back to Chicago where he stayed with his grandfather. It was there he began training intensely with the goal of playing college football.
Jason Hosey, a coach at Westinghouse College Prep in Chicago, saw Greathouse’s potential and advised him to play junior college football. He believed it was the best path to realize his goals and eventually play for an NCAA Division I college football program.
Greathouse began to reach out to football coaches at different schools. One day while browsing Twitter, Greathouse came across Itasca Community College, home of the little-known Vikings football team and located in the small town of Grand Rapids, Minn. The Vikings are an NJCAA team and play in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.
After speaking with the team’s coaches he was soon signed to play for the Vikings in the 2020 season. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on the entire season.
That October, Greathouse suffered yet another devastating setback. While in Miami, Greathouse was riding a personal watercraft when he hit an island while trying to turn. His friends told him he flew 10-13 feet in the air before landing on a rock. When he awoke, he had a broken back and was unable to move.
He was taken to a hospital in Miami where doctors said he was millimeters away from being paralyzed. He stayed at the hospital in Miami for nearly a month, unable to stand up or even feed himself. Thankfully, he was alive and on his way to a full recovery.
When he was finally able to return home to Chicago, he immediately began training again. His trainers at WIN Perfomance in Highland Park, Ill., were cautious but also amazed his ability to bounce back from a catastrophic injury.
When he reported to Vikings football camp in August 2021, he was ready to go. He told his coaches he wanted to record at least 17 sacks.
“They told me that if I wanted to make it out, I had to be first team all conference. I had to be different. I had to stand out,” Greathouse said.
In his first game, he recorded one sack.
By the second game against Vermilion, he had the most dominant performance of his career, recording 5.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries, and one touchdown.
“I wasn’t going to be denied,” he said.
Greathouse finished the year as the national leader with 20.5 sacks in only nine games. Due to a COVID-19 cancellation, Itasca Community College did not get to play its final game of the season, the MCAC Championship against M State Fergus Falls that was scheduled for Nov. 7, 2022.
Despite the cancellation, Greathouse came within striking distance of setting the all-time single season record, which was set by Butler’s Markus White in 2007. That year, Butler collected an astonishing 24.5 sacks.
“His talent is rare. He was on track to break the national record. He wasn’t able to get that done, but I believe he would have done it,” ICC Defensive Coordinator Michael Francis Bey said.
Eventually, all his hard work paid off. This February, Greathouse became the first player in ICC history to sign with a Division I college football team.
On National Signing Day on Feb. 2, Greathouse announced his decision to attend Southern University and play for new head coach Eric Dooley.
Now that Greathouse accomplished his goal of signing with a Division I football team, he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. His ultimate dream is to get drafted into the National Football League. He believes he can make that dream a reality in two years time.
“I know what I’m capable of and I know that I’m focused,” Greathouse said. “I know that I can do things right.”
His former coaches believe he has what it takes to make it to the NFL.
“He’s been an amazing athlete since the first day I met him his sophomore year,” Coach Hosey said. “He’s just scratched the surface.”
Coach Francis-Bey said he’s happy to see Greathouse take a step up in his football career.
“He had a skill set that not a lot of guys have. We’ve definitely enjoyed having him in Grand Rapids,” Francis-Bey said. “He could’ve gone anywhere else in the world and he decided to take chance on us.”
Source: Grand Rapids Herald Review (Ben Karkela)