Perhaps in just a few years there could be another defensive tackle with “Klecko” on the back of his jersey rushing the quarterback and making big plays in the NFL.
Meet Josh Klecko, the son of legendary Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko. Josh, a high school senior at Red Bank Catholic in Red Bank, N.J., who is dominating the competition in the Shore Conference, was one of the first players to commit to this year’s recruiting class at Rutgers.
The younger Klecko is the on-field image of a father who is part of the Jets’ “Ring of Honor” and was one of the most feared and revered defensive linemen during an 11-year career that began in 1977. Joe was always quick off the line and technically strong, traits now seen in his son.
“Whenever I watch my dad I honestly see a lot of myself. Just the way he used to do everything is exactly like me; at least that’s what I think. The way he used his hands is what I try to do,” Josh told Metro. “And even though my dad thinks I do not use my hands [enough] sometimes, I feel like I’m getting better and hopefully I can be as good as him.”
Josh turned down offers from UMass and fellow Big East member Temple to join Rutgers in 2013. At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Josh isn’t the type of bulky interior defensive linemen that grabs headlines, but he is technically proficient and has the frame to add size.
Josh will be asked to play the tilted nose tackle, the position his father made famous with the Jets. He will align between the center and the guard and occupy both of the blockers.
Not only was his father a four-time Pro Bowl selection, but Josh’s brother Dan was a former Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Temple who won three Super Bowls in an NFL career that ended in 2010. Even at just 5-foot-11, Dan was known as a technique, high-motor nose tackle who consistently got to the quarterback.
For Josh, he can cite his father’s influence in his development.
“I never played a down of football until eighth grade when he finally said I can play, which I was shocked I was allowed to do,” Josh said. “When I started I couldn’t do anything right and not until about last year did my dad give me my first compliment. Training with him is not exactly ‘fun,’ but it’s really, really hard and it definitely gets me a lot better. Without my dad, I don’t know where I’d be.”
“Josh can play anywhere along the defensive line. His ability and techniques do not limit him,” his father Joe said. “All I said [to him] was, ‘If you want it bad enough you can achieve it.’
“You just try to convey things to him that worked for yourself — a lot of things — but most of our concentration is about techniques and the mental part of the game.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.