Freshman QB Jake Lange poised for first career start

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 12:34 AM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Jake Lange was on the scout team just a few weeks ago.

Now the Southern Miss offense is centered around him – a freshman walk-on quarterback out of Jackson Prep.

After Ty Keyes left Saturday’s game at Rice with an ankle injury, Lange completed 23 of his 37 passes for 304 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. But he will make his first career start against UTEP on Saturday at “The Rock.”

“UTEP’s a great team,” Lange said. “They’re really athletic, they’re really well-coached and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The practice reps ramped up this week but his preparation has been the same all season.

Lange has been watching film late into the night from the moment he stepped on USM’s campus in 2020 and was handed a No. 24 jersey.

It’s a number he plans to stick with, even though quarterbacks rarely don anything above No. 19.

“Last year we had eight or nine QBs on the roster and I was pretty down low on that list so they gave me 24,” Lange said. “Shoot, it took me this far. I figured I might as well keep it. Kind of for the guys, the walk-ons, you might not get the swaggiest jerseys, you might not get all this and that but I thought it was one for me. Also, the greatest competitor in the history of sports [Kobe Bryant] wore 24.”

“Jake has come to work every day,” said USM head coach Will Hall. “Jake has maximized every opportunity he’s been given and the good Lord’s provided him an unbelievable opportunity right here. There’s a lot of people that would’ve given up in his situation. There’s a lot of people who would think an opportunity would never come and you can’t live life that way. You’ve got to constantly put your line in the water and when an opportunity comes you’re there and ready to make it happen.”

Carter Hankins has walked a mile or two in Lange’s shoes.

The 2013 state champion quarterback of Forrest County Agricultural High School played two seasons at Pearl River Community College before walking on at Southern Miss.

Hankins now serves as a graduate assistant for the Golden Eagles and sees what kind of work Lange puts in every day.

“He has that chip on his shoulder,” Hankins said. “Heck, he’s wearing No. 24 as a quarterback so that shows you right there...The good thing with all our guys is everybody’s pulling for each other - whether it’s the quarterback room, receivers. A guy that comes to mind, Jack Walker. One of the greatest dudes you’ll ever meet. He’s in there helping everybody every single day. Ty Keyes and Trey Lowe have both gone down. They’re in the meetings helping in any way possible. So we got a great group of guys that come to work every day.”

Southern Miss (1-4) hosts UTEP (4-1) for Homecoming on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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