Heading North: Cal High running back Justin Dankert, with his parents Joe and Marian Dankert, will be playing college football at Jamestown College in North Dakota.
(Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)
WHITTIER – As a football player, California High School’s Justin Dankert is blue-collar.
He did the dirty work in the Condors’ running game, and that type of work ethic, off and on the field, now will take him elsewhere.
Dankert, an honorable-mention All-Del Rio League running back this past fall, recently accepted a scholarship offer to Jamestown College, a NAIA school in North Dakota.
He is the second member of his family and the third position player from California in recent years to receive a football scholarship.
Older brother Joe, who played at La Mirada High School and Fullerton College, is at Quincy University in Illinois.
“In my family, it’s about hard work, not just on the field but in the classroom,” Dankert said. “My dad and mom are teachers, and that’s what they (instilled) in us. It’s good to (see it come to fruition).
“I’m glad to get it done.”
d going away to college. Now I get to do that. I’m excited.”
Jamestown competes in the NAIA and Dakota Athletic Conference. The Jimmies were 3-7 last season.
Dankert’s lure to the North Dakota school was the Jimmies’ interest in his abilities and the thought of being part of a new era with first-year coach Shawn Frank, who was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach in January.
“For me, once they put (out a scholarship) offer, that’s what sold me,” said Dankert, who has a 3.3 grade-point-average.
“I was talking to other schools and they never got back to me. But Jamestown was interested.”
Dankert is keen to getting in on the ground floor at Jamestown.
“They went 3-7 last year, but they have a new coach now,” Dankert said. “I see some changes and I want to be a part of that.”
The lure from Jamestown’s perspective was obvious.
Dankert is one of the more hard-nosed runners in the area. He also was quite productive.
The senior rushed for 1,191 yards in three seasons at Cal and also finished with 1,311 all-purpose yards. He ranked among area leaders with 6.7 yards per carry this season while twice rushing for 100 yards or more for the Condors. He also had 205 carries without a fumble.
Dankert, who had four 100-yard rushing games in his career, was timed in 4.67 and 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash in the National Underclassmen Combine.
“Justin is a bit different in terms of the running backs we have signed to this point,” Frank said in a statement released by the school this week. “He is a downhill, physical back who thrives on contact and finishing his runs. We feel this as a great contrast to the players we have signed at the position already. I think it’s important to have that contrast in the backfield.
Justin is another player from the state of California who is a great fit for Jamestown College. He is excited to be a part of our program and the energy with which he plays with is something we desire.”
Dankert also is looking for a change in lifestyle, switching from near-perfect weather in California to the college town atmosphere of Jamestown, N.D.
“I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life,” said Dankert, who will visit the campus on spring break, scheduled for April 9-13. “I was never expecting (to go to college here). I’ve always thought about leaving and going away to college. Now I get to do that. I’m excited.”