Blue Hen lineman Trump a veteran standout

Jake Trump has become a veteran along the Hens’ offensive line, The left tackle, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound junior, will be making his 16th straight start on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Jake Trump has become a veteran along the Hens’ offensive line, The left tackle, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound junior, will be making his 16th straight start on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Jake Trump was trying to stay optimistic.

So when the big high school lineman went down with a knee injury in a preseason scrimmage, he thought it wasn’t too bad.

“My trainer came over and did the ACL test,” Trump recalled. “And he said, ‘You don’t have anything to worry about.’ I get off the field like it’s fine, no problem.”

But it wasn’t. The trainer was just trying to break the news slowly to Trump that his ACL was torn.

Trump’s senior season at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) High was over before it even started. And, more than that, he had to worry about what Delaware — where he had already committed — would think.

Former coach K.C. Keeler, though, said the injury didn’t change what the Blue Hens thought of Trump’s potential.

Dave Brock

Dave Brock

Current coach Dave Brock, whose Delaware squad (1-1 CAA, 2-2 overall) hosts Maine (0-1, 1-3) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., is certainly glad to have Trump on the field.

Trump has become a veteran along the Hens’ offensive line, The left tackle, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound junior, will be making his 16th straight start on Saturday.

“He really has become a very, very good football player,” said Brock. “He has a lot of toughness and athletic ability. He’s very strong, he’s got length. He’s really done a terrific job in terms of coming from where he came from.

“He’s really a guy you look at and you say, boy, you’d like to have seven or eight of him. He could play guard, without question. He really has hit his stride in the last two years.”

Just for the record, Trump is not related to the presidential candidate of the same name.

He does get asked about it “all the time,” though.

“Coach (Eddie) Allen tells me how ‘my uncle’ is doing in the polls every day,” Trump said about the jokes he hears.

But being injured in high school wasn’t very fun for Trump, of course.

Trump says not being able to play football was pretty difficult for him. It also ended his high school basketball career.

He then redshirted his first season at Delaware.

“It was a weird feeling,” said Trump. “I played sports ever since I was a little kid. I had to take that whole year off.”

There was a silver lining to Trump’s rehab process. He came out of it in the best shape of his life.

Once he got to Delaware, it’s just been a question of becoming a better football player. Trump would like to think his hard work is paying off now.

“I think I watch a lot more film now than I did a couple years ago,” he said. “Coach (Sean) Devine is always geteting on me about fundamentals. The game definitely slows down the more you play it.

“Going from high school to college, it was definitely way more fast-paced than I was ready for that freshman year. Now I think I’ve played enough snaps where I kind of know what to expect each play and know how to deal with it.”

That being said, Trump knows the Hens’ offensive line left a lot of room for improvement in Saturday’s 43-20 loss at James Madison.

Delaware scored just seven points in the first three quarters of that loss. The Hens held the ball for five plays or less on five straight possessions in the middle of the game.

“We definitely have to get more movement up front,” said Trump. “(We need to) be more physical — at least personally I think that’s what we need to do.”

Bouncing back

The Hens don’t have any time to feel sorry for themselves after the one-sided loss at JMU.

Just one game into its Colonial Athletic Association schedule, Delaware isn’t ready to give up, of course.

“I think there’s a sense of frustration certainly,” said Brock. “You don’t like to play poorly. You don’t like to go out and not play like you’re capable.

“They understand that we have to have a really good week and really lock in on what Maine does and how Maine does it. Obviously the goal is to play it like it’s a one-game season and get ourselves in a position to be 1-1 in the league.”

“It’s always tough to watch a loss,” said Trump. “But I think everybody is still optimistic. You’ve got to make the corrections. Watch the film, get better, come together and see what we can do this week.”

Brock was especially disappointed in the way things snowballed on the Hens in the second quarter. JMU quickly turned a 7-7 contest into a 26-7 halftime lead.

In that stretch, the Hens simply couldn’t stop the Dukes or keep the offense on the field.

“It was disappointing to let the game get away in the second quarter when really the game hadn’t gone that way for the first 17 minutes,” said Brock. “That’s frustrating. We have to do a better job of, when the game gets out of whack, making sure the players understand how we’re going to get it back under control.

“The lack of our ability to possess the ball created problems for us. … That’s critically important to playing good defense. The number of possessions you don’t have to play defense makes you look really good on defense.”

Hills returns

One of the few bright spots in Saturday’s game was the return of top running back Wes Hills.

The junior had missed essentially the last two games with an elbow injury.

Hills looked like his old self when he scored Delaware’s first touchdown on a 24-yard run in the second quarter. He saw relatively limited playing time, though, finishing with 78 yards on eight carries.

“Wes is Wes,” said Brock. “Wes is a very good player. He was on a little bit of a snap count in terms of how much we were going to play him.

“But he certainly played well and he’s good to go. He came out of the game healthy, with no issues. We’re excited to have him back. He certainly is a big part of what we do.”

Extra points

Brock said Delaware counted well over 20 missed tackles in Saturday’s loss. “It’s like nothing I’ve seen in two years,” said Brock. … JMU quarterback Bryan Schor was named the Co-Offensive Player of the Week in Colonial Athletic Association after running for three TDs and throwing for one against the Hens. … Saturday’s game is part of Parents and Family Weekend activities. … Delaware hasn’t played Maine since 2013.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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