Louisville commit Josh Jones nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year

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TOWAMENCIN – It has been a very busy last couple of months for North Penn senior Josh Jones. From signing with Louisville back in November, to being nominated for Pennsylvania’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Jones, like the rest of us, has a lot to be thankful for during this time of year.

“It is such a blessing to be nominated for this award. I just want to thank all my coaches and teammates for everything they have done for me. Their support in my development and as a player has been tremendous throughout my high school career and I would not be in this situation without the help of everyone in the North Penn family,” Jones said.

Being nominated for the Gatorade Player of the year award and being recognized as one of the top high school soccer players in all of Pennsylvania is one of the most prestigious and illustrious accolades one can achieve. If you know Josh, you know just how hard he works. One person who has seen this first hand for as long as he can remember is North Penn High School soccer coach Chris Depeppe.

“I have known Josh since he was 12- I used to play with his father back in the day so I know he has the game in his blood and that he was getting great coaching at home. I always knew that Josh was going to be a special talent. I have been saying for years that he is like a thoroughbred. As a freshman he was still just a colt…a little gangly and still developing his coordination and body control, but he was already a powerful kid and his enthusiasm and focus were exceptional. By his junior year it was clear that we were really seeing a rare athlete blossoming, Depepee said. 

I have known Josh since he was 12- I used to play with his father back in the day so I know he has the game in his blood and that he was getting great coaching at home. I always knew that Josh was going to be a special talent. I have been saying for years that he is like a thoroughbred. As a freshman he was still just a colt…a little gangly and still developing his coordination and body control, but he was already a powerful kid and his enthusiasm and focus were exceptional. By his junior year it was clear that we were really seeing a rare athlete blossoming”

— Chris Depepee - Head Coach, North Penn Soccer

Depepee was also quick to point out those factors that make Jones different from most players. 

The thing that I think separates him from other great players is his drive and the things he does on his own.  I have seen him on our grass fields on summer mornings working on his own or with a buddy. But best of all, while he is extremely confident, he is not a selfish guy at all, on or off the field.  He knew that for us to be successful we needed certain players to produce and he would work with them in training to help them improve.  I never had to ask him twice to do anything and as a senior captain, he could not have been more respectful.  He is truly a class act” he added. 

From the very moment Jones stepped onto the field his freshman year at center back, everyone knew he was going to be special. But what they didn’t know was Josh had the ability to be just as dominant at any position on the pitch.

“Josh is probably the most complete player I have ever coached.  He has played every central position on the field for us (other than keeper and I’m sure he’d be a great keeper too).  But I really thought of him as a defensive center midfielder and I think that is where he really excels.  So as a freshman and sophomore that’s where he played for us and I don’t think anyone covers as much ground or wins as many balls as Josh.  He is 6’4” and has incredible range and stamina.  He reads the game very well.  But above all, he has the best feet of any big man I have seen at this level.  He can use both feet in tight spaces and he has an immaculate first touch.  And yet he is also the best aerial player I’ve coached in terms of his timing and technique heading the ball…both offensively and defensively.  I think he may be the best header in the nation at his age,” Depeppe said.

A strong relationship between player and coach is one of the most important and helpful things that a player can have, especially one of Jones caliber. 

“Coach Depeppe has had a major impact on my development over the past 4 years. I remember my freshman year I did not have the most confidence on the field and was not a very vocal leader as a centerback. My sophomore year he installed a lot of confidence in me and my ability to lead with my voice improved extremely. That has also helped me off the field as well, I am a much more outgoing person because of it, and a big reason for that is my confidence level,” Jones said.

With such high praise surrounding the senior many see Jones as one of the favorites to take home the award. Without any bias of course, Depeppe feels that Jones is right up there with the best of them.

As far as the Gatorade Player of the Year, I can only say that he deserves every award out there and if someone else wins it, they would have had to done something extraordinary…and I know Josh will just tip his cap like the gentleman he is. But YES, he should win it!” Deppepe noted.

Jones himself is quite humble when it comes to this situation. 

“I am just thankful to even be in consideration for being the best player in Pennsylvania. It would be pretty cool to win it, but I try to not worry too much about individual accolades… If I win it, it would be great, but if I do not, that is great too. That would just give me another reason to work harder and prove more people wrong,” Jones added.

I am just thankful to even be in consideration for being the best player in Pennsylvania. It would be pretty cool to win it, but I try to not worry too much about individual accolades… If I win it, it would be great, but if I do not, that is great too. That would just give me another reason to work harder and prove more people wrong”

— Josh Jones

Even if he does not win the award, Jones still has a lot to be excited about. Back in early November, Josh saw his illustrious 13 year soccer career come to fruition when he inked a contract with Louisville. Making him a part of one of the most successful teams at the collegiate level for the next 4 years.

“Now that it is official, I cannot wait to get down there this summer and get to work. It has always been a dream of mine to play Division 1 College Soccer and finally being able to put the pen to paper and make it official was just another dream come true. This is only another step along the way in what is hopefully a long career, but I know that the real work starts now and preparing myself for the next level,” Jones said.

Jones has a lot to look forward to when he heads onto the field with the Cardinals in the Fall. Louisville is one of the most successful teams in all of college soccer, they have qualified for the NCAA tournament every year since 2007, except 2015, and many believe they are on the verge of winning a National Championship.

“I am really excited about competing for a national championship each year and being contenders in the NCAA tournament. One of the main reasons I chose Louisville was the fact that they are playing in the ACC which is the best college soccer conference in the country and I’m really excited to play teams like Duke, UNC, Clemson, etc… The fact that the coaching staff believes that we will win a national championship in the next couple of years was a big selling point for me. I love to win and trying to do that is probably what I am looking most forward to,” Jones said.

The fact that the coaching staff believes that we will win a national championship in the next couple of years was a big selling point for me”

— Josh Jones (on his decision to attend Louisville)

Everyone who knows Jones knows how hard he works and how seriously he takes the game of soccer. Another person who got to see his hard work up close was former teammate and 2019 PA State Player of the year, Carter Houlihan.

“[Josh] is a great player. There are not a lot of players like him on the soccer field. If he can continue to work hard and stay fit I have no doubt that he will be able to make a smooth transition to the college level,” Houlihan said.

Many believe that Jones will not just stop at the collegiate level either. Jones has the potential to play professionally, whether that is in the MLS or overseas, people around the 6’4 superstar believe he could have just what it takes to make it to the big stage.

“I definitely think that Josh has what it takes to be one of the best players at the collegiate level, and I really do believe that he can make it professionally. Josh has such an impact in every game he plays and it is very easy to see. Having trained in Europe already, he’s gotten plenty of experience playing soccer at a really high level. In my opinion he exceeds a lot of players in PA and the entire country. He will only continue to get better so I can 100% see Josh making a smooth transition into college and I know he has what it takes to even play professionally,” said friend, teammate, and fellow co-captain Roman Ilovski.

Josh has such an impact in every game he plays and it is very easy to see. Having trained in Europe already, he’s gotten plenty of experience playing soccer at a really high level. In my opinion he exceeds a lot of players in PA and the entire country.”

— Roman Illovski - NP Soccer Co-Captain

“I would be extremely proud if he makes it to the professional level. If he is passionate enough about pursuing that, I can definitely see that happening,” Houlihan added.

Jones leaves behind a great North Penn soccer legacy. In his time with the Knights Jones tallied 26 goals and 38 assists and was a big factor in the teams first ever State Championship in 2019. North Penn soccer has been a huge part of Jones life and he will make sure to always cherish the memories he has made with his coaches and friends in high school.

“I am really going to miss the team and hanging out with the guys. It was a lot of fun winning close to 100 games in my High School career, but that was a large part due to the team chemistry we had each and every year. I am definitely going to miss walking through the halls and seeing all the guys and being able to battle with them on the field after school,” Jones said.

Josh will head to Louisville next year with hopes of performing well enough to win a couple National Championships and maybe even eventually elevate his game to the professional level. Jones, however, will never forget where he came from and will always be a proud member of the North Penn family.

“It’ll definitely be a little different next year not playing for North Penn. This program has been such a big part of my life for the past 4 years but I feel like I did not take any moments for granted and cherished all the time that I had,” Jones added.