ST. PETERSBURG — The first step Jonathan Jun took on his unlikely path to becoming Admiral Farragut’s best offensive lineman occurred in 2006 when he walked onto the football field.
Jun was an adventuresome youngster who left his family in South Korea to travel to a new land. There were so many things to get used to in this strange American life. He did not know any English and had no friends when he arrived at the school.
“I was not comfortable at all when I got here,” said Jun, now a senior. “I didn’t know the language and I was freaking out. I wanted to find a way to meet new people.”
What Jun found was football. As a seventh-grader Jun was big: 5 feet 11, 225 pounds. His size got the attention of football coaches.
“We’re all looking for big bodies,” Blue Jackets coach Chris Miller said. “I told him football was a good way to meet new people.”
Besides having to become familiar with the language, Jun had to learn a bewildering variety of blocking techniques and assignments.
“I had a lot of catching up to do,” Jun said. “I was a center, so all I knew was to snap the ball and block the guy in front of me. But football is easy to play. If you’re physical and strong, you can play.”
Jun became so adept at blocking that he was moved to varsity as an eighth-grader.
But his parents, Junjwon Jun and Okja Park, still have trouble figuring out what sport Jonathan is playing.
“They don’t even know I play,” he said. “When I say football, they still think soccer. I’ll show them pictures when I come home. They seemed to like it, but they don’t know anything about it.”
Jun is now 6-3, 270 pounds. He is versatile enough to play guard or center. And after taking three years to understand English, he can call out the blocking assignments on each play.
“I’m still learning about football and English,” said Jun, who was selected to play in the Pinellas County all-star game. “There’s always something new every day.”
Last week, he helped Admiral Farragut rush for a school-record 596 yards in a victory over Fort Myers Evangelical in the Class 2A region semifinal. The Blue Jackets play Canterbury in the region final Friday.
“Jonathan is very quick and fast for his size,” Miller said. “Last year, he was plowing people. He was unbelievable.”
Jun has aspirations of playing in college. He has a 4.0 GPA and has scored 1,300 on his SAT. He has gotten interest from schools such as Lafayette, Marist and Valparaiso. But there is one snag. Jun has to serve two years in the Korea Armed Forces.
“I want to continue to play and I hope I can in college,” Jun said. “It’s something I never thought was possible when I started a few years ago.”