Melo accepts scholarship to San Jose State

San Benito High senior J.J. Melo wreaked havoc on opposing offensive players in a spectacular three-year varsity career.

J.J. Melo knows how to keep a good secret.
The San Benito High senior entered his senior year having made a verbal commitment to play football at San Jose State University on June 23, 2013—and yet he kept the announcement under wraps to most of the public until Wednesday, on National Signing Day.
“I didn’t really want to tell people or seem like I was bragging about it because you have a lot of good players who will never get the chance to play in college,” said Melo, the school’s career sacks leader who became just the second football player from the school in the last 22 years to go straight to a Division I program. “It means a lot to help put the program out there even more and it shows coach (Chris) Cameron and all of the other coaches are doing a good job.”
Known for being unselfish and a team player, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Melo started to draw attention after a solid junior season in which he was dominant at times. A versatile defensive lineman, Melo went to a couple of camps last summer, including ones at San Jose State and Sacramento State.
Both programs offered scholarships to Melo, but in the end, San Jose State was too good to pass up. In addition to having a great rapport with the SJSU coaching staff, Melo’s grandfather used to be a professor at the school.
“Sacramento State is a great school and I liked it, but San Jose State was a slam dunk really because of family ties to the school, the area and how much I got along with all of the coaches,” he said.
Melo said the SJSU coaches told him they see him playing defensive end at first, with the possibility of moving to tackle later on down the line. Even though redshirting is an option, Melo said he’s going into spring ball with the intention of being on the school’s traveling team.
“I personally don’t want to redshirt, and everything will depend on how I play in the preseason,” Melo said. “I know I’m going to make the most of this chance, because not everyone gets this opportunity.”
Melo had never played a down of organized football until entering his freshman year at San Benito. Growing up, Melo was competitive in boxing and wrestling. Football, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter.
“As a freshman, I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “I actually was playing offensive line until coach Cam snatched me up as a sophomore and put me on the D-line. He told me to go out and tackle someone, and I told myself, ‘OK, this is simple.’ As the season progressed, things started clicking. It’s a lot more fun for me to go out and tackle people than play offense.”
Melo made plenty of tackles in his three-year varsity career, often drawing double teams along the way. Since Melo is still growing into his body and didn’t take up the game until four years ago, most coaches feel Melo isn’t close to achieving his full potential.
“Looking at where I am right now, they (SJUS coaches) think my best years are ahead of me,” Melo said.
Since Cameron took over the San Benito program 22 years ago, only one previous player—Roy Sims—had gone straight to a D-I program. Melo just became the second, an honor he doesn’t take lightly.
“There’s been a lot of great players to come through this school,” Melo said. “Being able to play college football is something I’m very thankful for and appreciate.”
Melo’s meteoric rise from a raw talent to developing into a Division I scholarship player is another classic example of someone who persevered and took to instruction well. Had someone told Melo during his freshman year that he would one day earn a scholarship to play football at a Division I program, he would have laughed.
“My parents probably would’ve laughed, too,” he said. “At the end of my junior year, I was planning on playing JC football. To be able to go to San Jose State is awesome. I’m ecstatic and can’t wait to be a part of the program.”

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