Born: 9 October 1989
Junior Club: Hermit Park (Townsville)
Senior Club: Redland
Schools: Townsville Grammar, Brisbane Boys College
Regional Selection: Country Kookaburras
Queensland Selection: U18 (2008)
Draft Details: Selection #35 (3rd Round) - 2008 AFL rookie draft
AFL Debut: Melbourne v North Melbourne, MCG, Rd 1, 2009 (29 March)
Jumper Number: 42
AT A GLANCE: The first Townsville product to play AFL football, he overcame the disappointment of being shunned in his home state to grab a rookie list spot at Melbourne and earn a chance at the elite level. And all within six years of first picking up an AFL football. A one-time junior basketball standout, he didn't take up football until 2003 but took to the national game quickly and for a long time he split his sporting exploits between his two sporting loves. Born in Brisbane before moving to Townsville with his family, he was a member of every under-age Townsville football representative side from age 12, and in 2005 he captained the Townsville Eagles at the State U16 Championships in Cairns.
In 2006 he won the Townsville Football League U17 B&F Medal playing with Hermit Park, but there was still the basketball temptation - he was among the top 10 scorers at the Queensland U18 Basketball Championships and was earmarked by 'hoops' talent scouts for a promising career under the net. Some fledgling interest from AFL scouts and a family connection to the Brisbane Lions – his uncle Tony Kelly is the chairman – convinced him to concentrate on football and in 2007 he moved to Brisbane to finish his schooling and focus his attention on AFL. A mobile and competitive 203cm ruckman, he played with Redland in the QAFL State League and represented Queensland at U18 level while doing Year 12 at Brisbane Boys College.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. He had shown huge promise in the early season lead-up matches with the Queensland U18 side, most notably in greasy conditions at Coburg in Melbourne one day when the Scorpions beat the Eastern Ranges by 15 points, and was selected for opening game of the Australian U18 Championships in Sydney on 23 June. But he was overlooked for the subsequent 10-day trip to Melbourne and the carnival proper in July. Melbourne recruiting staff weren’t to be denied – especially after a strong finish to the State League season with the Bombers. Several days before the 2008 AFL Rookie Draft recruiting boss Craig Cameron contacted Jake’s father Wayne and told him his son was right in the mix. Jake wasn’t told, and it came as a pleasant surprise when he was taken by the Demons in the third round of the 2008 AFL rookie draft. He spent his first season with the Demons alternating between the seniors and reserves with VFL club Sandringham, impressing club officials with his competitiveness and his development.
He made his NAB Cup debut with the Demons on 21 February 2009 against Hawthorn in Launceston after winning strong praise from club officials for his improvement over the 2008-09 summer, and made a huge first impression with a strong first-up display. He was promoted to the senior list shortly after and made his AFL debut in Round 1 of the same season against North Melbourne at the MCG. After playing a total of six senior games he reverted to the rookie list for 2010 but was rewarded with a two-year contract and a guaranteed senior list berth in 2011 – if he doesn’t earn another mid-season elevation.