Senior wide receiver leads Jacks with character

Jacob Menage is not a name every South Dakota State Jackrabbit football fan will recognize. 

Standing 6-feet tall, weighing 180 pounds and sporting a receding hairline, Menage might look like your average person. He comes from Springfield, Minnesota where he was a three-sport athlete, as well as an honor roll student. 

Entering his senior year with one career catch for 11 yards, Menage has only appeared in three games in three years. He will not impress anyone physically or with his great play on the field, but Menage will impress because of his character, both in the locker room and the community. 

“He’s an effort guy, he came here as kind of an underdog and he has worked his tail off to get in position to get some reps,” said head coach John Stiegelmeier. “Everybody loves ‘Grandpa.’” 

Grandpa is Menage’s nickname, coined by standout junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke. 

“He thought I drove slow, walked slow, got ready slow and did everything slow,” Menage said.

For a player who doesn’t light up the stat sheet, Menage leads the Jacks in different ways, mainly by his friendly and considerate attitude.

“The best way to measure a person’s contribution is not only on a football field, but also in how he affects his team,” Stiegelmeier said. During the end of his redshirt freshman season, Menage was tested in a difficult way. 

On December 17, 2013, Menage’s father, Jeff Menage, died from a heart attack at the age of 49. 

His father was the offensive coordinator at SDSU from 1997 to 1998. He spent time coaching in Denmark and Sweden, teaching American football to the national teams in each country. He worked as a certified teacher specializing in quarterback mechanics on the staff of the National Football Academies (NFA).  

“Very positive, great football coach … like ‘Grandpa,’ he, too, had a positive impact on people,” Stiegelmeier said. 

Menage said it has been a challenge and curve ball for his life. 

“It’s made me stronger — had to step up for my mom and sister and become a man a little bit quicker than I needed to,” Menage said.  

The NFA has decided to honor his father’s memory with the “Jeff Menage Award,” which goes to a coach who exemplifies servant-leadership.

After his father’s death, the love of the game keeps bringing Menage back to the field. 

“I love being a Jackrabbit, love playing football and I love all the guys out here,” Menage said.  

In 2015, Menage was selected as the team’s inaugural recipient of the Servant/Humility Award. The award is given to a member of the football team, in any role, who puts the team first. They can be playing on the scout team or being the first person to participate in a drill. The second part of the award is being active in the community. 

Menage has been on the Missouri Valley Football Conference Honor Roll for three straight seasons. In each of the seasons, he has been part of SDSU football and has won either the Scout or Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Menage plans to graduate with a degree in physical education with the goal of becoming a coach, like his father. 

Before that can happen, Menage is preparing for his last season with the Jackrabbits. A season that Menage believes could be a historic one for the Jacks. He believes the sky’s the limit for SDSU, coming off the program’s first MVFC championship.

“We’ve been getting further than we have every year and our goal is a national championship,” Menage said. “And, like last year, we have a chance to do that.” 

Menage’s career may end with just one catch for 11 yards, but his loving attitude toward football and life will carry on. The personal goals Menage sets for himself reflect who he is.

“Just help the team win; doing whatever I can to help this team win,” Menage said. “It’s the most important thing.”