Marian Central's Jayden Thiergood tackles St. Patrick's Eric Wozny at the line Oct. 25 in Woodstock. Thiergood has committed to attend the Air Force Academy.
Marian Central's Jayden Thiergood tackles St. Patrick's Eric Wozny at the line Oct. 25 in Woodstock. Thiergood has committed to attend the Air Force Academy. — Shaw Media file photo

Marian Central varsity football coach Darren Fortin saw potential in Jayden Thiergood when Thiergood was a freshman. At the time, Fortin was the Hurricanes’ freshman coach.

“If he put the time and effort in, we always thought he could be a Division I player,” Fortin said. “You see some kids that have the potential that don’t do the extra work, that don’t have the support, that don’t make the sacrifices. All four years, he kept working hard on and off the field.”

Fortin’s hunch proved accurate. Thiergood committed Wednesday to play Division I college football at Air Force. The Marian Central senior announced his decision on Twitter.

Thiergood had offers from about a dozen schools, including six Football Bowl Subdivision programs. He said his decision came down to Air Force and Cincinnati.

“It’s a bigger commitment going [to Air Force] because I’d have to serve, which I don’t see as a problem,” Thiergood said. “It’s all worth it.”

Thiergood visited the Colorado campus in August. He will join an Air Force football program coming off an 11-2 season, its highest win total in two decades. The Falcons defeated Washington State, 31-21, in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 27.

Thiergood, listed at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds last season, was a two-way lineman for Marian, which went 4-5 this season. He was a 2019 Northwest Herald All-Area First-Team selection as an offensive lineman. He also earned CCL/ESCC All-Purple Division honors. He played three years of varsity ball after his one season on the freshman team under Fortin.

“He was an area that teams wouldn’t run to,” Fortin said. “He was always schemed against [on] both sides of the ball. … He’s been consistent in his four years no matter where we’ve asked him to play, and he’s played a lot of positions in the four years he’s been at Marian. He’s just a good team player.”

Thiergood will join former Marian teammate Thor Paglialong at Air Force. Paglialong committed to Air Force last year.

“I talked to him every now and then,” Thiergood said. “I saw him not too long ago when he got back for break. I told him on the spot [I wanted to go to Air Force], and he seemed really excited. He knows it’s worth it to go there. I believe in what Thor has to say.”

Paglialong is at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School for this school year. Some students attend the prep school for a year before joining the academy. Thiergood said he plans to go straight to the academy.

Thiergood also will join former Johnsburg lineman Joe Moore, a sophomore who saw action in three games for Air Force in 2019. Moore helped Johnsburg reach the IHSA Class 4A state championship game in 2016.

“He’s going to get to play the sport that he loves, he’s going to get a great education, and from everything I understand, it sets him up for a great career,” Fortin said. “He’s been a hard worker for as long as I’ve known him in his four years at Marian. He’ll fit in well there.”

Thiergood called Air Force coach Troy Calhoun “genuine.” He said defensive line coach Terrance Jamison “had so much faith in me and was willing to give me the offer.”

“To me, it’s like an offer of a lifetime,” Thiergood said.