BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — “I would say people think he’s more grumpy than I am all the time,” Jadon Janke said.
“See I don’t understand where he gets that from,” Jaxon Janke said.
Summer of 1999, Madison, South Dakota. Already with five children of their own, expecting just one more, Linda and Fred Janke were in for a big surprise.
“Grandma and grandpa, all the kids, are all lined up watching and the first thing the doctor says, ‘is she aware she’s having twins?’ Like the air was sucked out of the room,” Linda Janke said.
It was evident from the start, the two youngsters were a different kind of athlete.
“When they started out in youth football, that was, I mean they were almost too good. They hit too hard, and ran over people,” Fred Janke said.
And according to the boys, their athleticism came from Mom.
“Our Mom was an incredible athlete. She ran track at DSU, she played on the first women’s basketball team at Madison and she was a power lifter, I believe,” Jaxon said.
“And she did gymnastics and played softball at DSU too,” Jadon added.
They would go on to attend Madison High School where they would shine. Receiving countless accolades, winning three state titles and combining for 54 touchdowns during their senior season, the duo had left their mark.
“There was always that little rivalry between us and that’s got to be what made us so good just having that constant pressure that constant motivation to out do each other, not in a bad way at all. It was all love and we just wanted to be the best that we could be,” Jadon Janke said.
But the brothers weren’t just stars on the gridiron. Along with football and track, they were standout athletes on the hardwood as well.
“He gets mad when I say I was the point guard”, Jadon said as Jaxon laughed. “Like I would try and start all the plays and bring the ball up the floor all the time.”
After winning a state title in hoops during their senior season and it came time to head to the next level, the tough decision wasn’t so much what university to attend, but which sport to play.
“The traditional recruiting process was not something they followed. Usually with local guys, we get them here in the summer time and they make their decision pretty early, kind of summer before their senior year, but I think they wanted to let it play out and see how football went and see how the basketball season went,” SDSU wide receivers coach Luke Schleusner said.
And by February of 2018, a choice was made, but not without difficulty.
“I think I was definitely a bit hesitant to commit just because of my love for basketball, but I know he (Jaxon) made his mind up probably a week before I did I think. So, yeah it was a struggle for sure, to finally commit here to play football but once we both made our minds up, we knew it was the right decision,” Jadon Janke said.
They would both red shirt during their first year in Brookings, but a new NCAA rule would allow freshman to appear in four games without losing a year of eligibility. Playing in just his 3rd game as a Jackrabbit, on the road against Southern Illinois, Jadon would return a blocked punt for a touchdown.
“I didn’t travel that week because they weren’t using one of my games for that, so I was at home with all my family watching on TV when he scored and it was super awesome. I was happy for him, but obviously that twin rivalry was there too and I was a little pissed,” Jaxon Janke said.
The following season Jaxon would flash on the seen with 29 catches and four touchdowns, while Jadon was still primarily on special teams.
“I think that really motivated me to work as hard as I could because, you know, it’s pretty embarrassing when your twins starting and you’re only on special teams, but I was really happy for him. That was a crazy year, especially for his first year making the impact that he did,” Jadon said.
Jadon’s time would come. The following spring season, on a team that fell just short of a national championship, the two brothers would start at receiver, combining for nearly 900 yards and 11 touchdowns. Even after 3 years in the program, most of their teammates still have trouble telling the two apart
“It actually really helps out when they have different haircuts because that’s the only way I can tell or if they have their jersey’s on,” SDSU lineman Wes Genant said.
And its hard to blame them. The similarities go well beyond just the looks.
“The idea of anything you can do I can do better is kind of the reason why were so similar,” Jaxon said. “Like juggling for instance, we’ve had juggling competitions at our house. There’s not a lot of things where only I do them that he doesn’t I feel like.”
The trophies are impressive and the stats are nice, but behind the success has been hard work and through character has been sustained.
“They’re easy guys to coach, they work hard, bring it everyday in practice and I just enjoy coaching those guys,” Schleusner said.
“They’re good people, they’re good students, they’re not only good athletes, they’re genuine people, they care,” Fred Janke said.
The Janke’s will be back on the field Saturday against Dixie State. Kick-off is set for 6:00 p.m.