Early last fall, Portland State interim head coach Bruce Barnum attended a Parkrose High School football game in order to scout Jonathan Boland, Parkrose’s superb 5-foot-11, 190-pound dual threat quarterback, for the first time.
It didn’t take him long to figure out which player was Boland.
Once the game started, Boland sparkled as the cat-quick athlete running over, around and through opposing tacklers while grasping the football tightly in his hand
When, of course, he wasn’t completing passes to his teammates or making big plays in other ways.
“It was easy to find him,” Barnum recalled. “When I went to one of his football games, I didn’t need a number, I didn’t need his name, I didn’t need anybody in the stands telling me who Jonathan Boland was. He stood out. He was fun to watch. He was a very exciting athlete at quarterback.”
Portland State has a crowded quarterback picture for 2015, though, with Kieran McDonagh, Paris Penn, Josh Kragt, Aidan Wilder, Alex Kuresa and Thomas Hamilton all vying for playing time.
As a result, Boland could end up playing another position this upcoming season as long as he does not redshirt.
“Watching him, he can play multiple positions,” Barnum said. “He is a great athlete on the football field. Jitterbug type. Slot receiver, quarterback, safety, wherever we want him to fit on this football team.”
Boland maintained his goal is playing as a true freshman in 2015, so if that means playing another spot besides quarterback, he’ll do it.
“I just want to get on the field. They could put me anywhere and I’ll play it and do my best and go 100 percent,” Boland told Viking Tales. “If they put me at safety or wide receiver or running back or kickoff return, I’ll play anything. I just want to get on the field and contribute to the team.
“If my time comes to play quarterback, then I’ll go hard.”
Boland played defensive back as a freshman in high school and had about a half dozen interceptions, but moved to quarterback for his sophomore year and stayed there for the rest of his prolific high school career.
As a senior, Boland threw for 2,389 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 772 yards and nine touchdowns, He was the Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior and honorable mention Oregon Class 5A All-State.
Boland’s Twitter handle (@train_insane11) explains a lot about his approach and work ethic.
“During my sophomore year, I fell in love with working out,” Boland said. “I changed my name on Twitter and Instagram.”
Boland and Portland State compose a perfect match because he wanted to play his college football locally in order to make it easy for his parents and friends to come watch him play for the Vikings.
“I wanted it to be easy for my parents to come watch me play and not have to get on an airplane every single weekend and fly to California or somewhere else,” Boland said. “I wanted the Parkrose community to be able to come watch me too.”
Boland’s preference for playing locally is summed up in one phrase: stay loyal to your soil.
Soon after Barnum was named interim head coach for 2015, Boland eagerly committed to the Vikings, spurning offers from Big Sky rivals Cal Poly and Sacramento State. Oregon sent a coach to watch Boland play and Oregon State expressed early interest, but stopped contacting Boland when Mike Riley departed to become the head coach at Nebraska.
“I love the new coaching staff,” Boland said. “I liked Coach Burton, but Coach Barnum is a very upfront and honest coach. I fell in love with him from day one. Coach Cooper, too. The entire staff, actually.”
Boland competed against current Vikings Penn and wide receiver Jamarr Graves in Pee Wee football several years ago. Penn and Graves attended Grant High School in Portland.
“I grew up in the Grant area, but then we moved out to Parkrose in my eighth grade year,” Boland said. “I was in sixth grade when they were eighth graders. It’s crazy. I was thinking, ‘I was just watching these dudes play eighth grade football. Now being on the same team, we’re competing with each other and making each other better.”
Boland shrugged off Barnum’s one-year contract and believes strongly he will remain Portland State’s coach beyond 2015.
“He told me that if we have a good season, they would add on (to his contract),” Boland said. “Before my sophomore year at Parkrose, our entire coaching staff got fired and we got a new coach. So, beginning my sophomore year, we had another coach. I’m used to having a lot of coaches. I can bond with any coach very easily. I’m not worried if he leaves, but I feel like he won’t leave or get replaced. I believe he will get an extension.”
Boland is involved in many extracurricular activities at Parkrose beyond football, including a leadership group involved in mentoring freshmen through their first year in high school, a project to raise money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and a school choir.
Boland plans to major in sports medicine.