Jordan Kos didn’t even understand Carmel’s triple-option offense his first year.
Kos was accustomed to a simpler approach as a running back throughout grade school. He was used to receiving the handoff, finding the hole and taking off.
Carmel’s offense was more complicated than that. It required the quarterback, the fullback, which was Kos, and the two wingbacks to all be in sync and know exactly where to go.
“In our veer offense, you have to hit a mark first,” Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. “You get the ball, find your mark and then make moves.”
Kos has learned the triple option piece by piece over the past four years. Now as a senior, he’s nearly mastered it and is on the verge of becoming Carmel’s all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns.
Kos, who is the ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week, is 78 yards and five touchdowns shy of breaking Jimmy Potempa’s school records of 3,543 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns.
“I think it’s something cool to tell my kids someday that I one time had the Carmel all-time rushing record,” Kos said. “But I just want the team to do well this season. That state championship is the obvious goal. Whatever happens, happens. It’s a team sport. We do it for the person next to us. That’s what we always say.”
As much as Kos tries to stare the spotlight away from himself and onto his teammates, his performances have been hard to ignore this season. He has rushed for 1,179 yards and 15 touchdown through eight games. In just the past two weeks, he’s had 501 yards and seven touchdowns.
It all goes back to him hitting his mark, according to Bitto.
“He’s a creative runner,” Bitto said. “I’m a discipline guy. We sometimes butt heads. He sometimes gets ahead of himself. He’s having his best year because he finds his mark and then gets creative. In terms of running, he’s been out of his mind the last two weeks.”
Bitto is so confident in his triple-option offense that he says a running back can gain 3-4 yards by hitting his mark and falling forward. Where all those other yards come from is up to the ball carrier.
When the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Kos hits his mark, he utilizes his speed, strength and creativity to move him ahead. In last week’s game against Marist, he broke touchdown runs of 62 and 71 yards by using those tools.
“He has the potential to get 1 yard on fourth down if you need it or sprint 70 yards for a touchdown,” Bitto said. “He has an inside-outside running ability in our option. He’s a good receiver, good faker, good blocker. He’s really worked on his blocking. He’s tried to become a complete back.”
Kos’ growth was especially evident in a win over Notre Dame earlier this season. While Kos had one of his quieter days with 101 yards and no touchdowns, he helped set up three touchdowns with blocks.
“I think that’s the happiest I’ve been in a game,” Kos said. “Brian [Brennan] and Mike [Panico] each scored touchdowns as a result of me hitting my block. It just felt good. Those guys thanked me and gave me a hug on the sideline. It’s a change of pace. Something to do for someone else. It’s a lot better feeling than scoring on your own as a the result of everyone else’s blocking.”
Kos now hopes college coaches are aware of his development as a complete back. He’s heard from a number of FCS and Division II schools, but there’s still a possibility some FBS program could come knocking.
“I’m not focusing on that right now,” Kos said. “Most likely I’ll have some stuff on the table after the season. I’m definitely confident in my ability. I’m looking to play somewhere I can start for two or three years. I’m definitely being realistic about it.”