As time has progressed and people have started to fully understand the toll that sports take on our bodies, it’s become odd to see an athlete compete in more than one sport. It’s even more rare to see an athlete compete at a high level in those sports. However, that’s exactly what John Eakin does at Slippery Rock for the football and track teams.
“It’s really nice [playing on two teams that compete at a high level], and in high school I was able to do the same thing, but it’s a blessing being able to come to college and be on two teams that are so good,” Eakin said.
Eakin, who’s 6’4” and weighs 250 pounds, is a tight end for the Rock football team and was a part of a historic offense that led The Rock not only to a PSAC championship, but to the National Semi-finals. Eakin played with the 2019 Harlon Hill winner, Roland Rivers, last season and he hauled in only three passes for 12 yards, but he appeared in every game and started two games.
“It was crazy just being on a team that was able to not only win the conference, but come so close to the National championship,” Eakin said. “I believe that when we get back out there, that we have a really good chance to win it all.”
It’s not a shock that Eakin only touched the ball a few times, as The Rock also featured Jermaine Wynn Jr. and Henry Litwin who each had over 1,000 yards receiving and 36 combined receiving touchdowns. But in high school, Eakin was a terror on both sides of the ball for opponents. At Bradford High School, his senior year Eakin ran for over 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns, while also making 80 plus tackles and intercepting three balls. Eakin decided to come to Slippery Rock over multiple Division I offers, so that alone speaks volumes about the type of player that Eakin is.
“When football got canceled it was heartbreaking, because we didn’t agree with the situation and obviously DI schools are playing, but we’re staying positive and it gives us more time to grind and protect our craft, and we can’t wait to get back out there and play,” Eakin said.
While Eakin is part of a team that nearly made it all the way to the National Title, he also is part of the Track team at Slippery Rock. Eakin is not only on the team but excels at throwing for the team. He ranks among the top of the PSAC in throwing and has qualified for the PSAC championship all three times he’s been able to compete. Each time he was able to place in the top five at the event.
“When I found out track was canceled, I was pretty disappointed because I was working and I really felt that there was a good chance that I could make nationals, so it was really tough but I’m excited to make a big comeback,” Eakin said.
In high school, Eakin not only tore up opponents on the football field but he was also a state champion in shot put. Since then, every season Eakin has set a new personal record in his shot put distances. Eakin was also named a USTFCCCA All-Region honoree for the Indoor season of 2019-2020.
While Eakin plays both sports, he focuses on football the most and sees it as his first sport. During the track season, Eakin will attend all the football workouts and events and still compete for The Rock in track. And it’s uncommon to see someone compete at the highest level in a sport that isn’t even their main sport, but that’s exactly what Eakin does.
Eakin didn’t know if he was going to do both sports when he came to Slippery Rock and that’s something that he went to his father about and his dad told him to “do what makes you happy” and it seems that Eakin has made the right choice so far as he not only has a PSAC championship ring, but has placed at PSAC Championship meets multiple times.
“Growing up [my dad] was my role model, he’s taught me everything I know and he taught me what it takes to be a man and be the best you can be, he’s the one who really pushed me through high school to go to liftings and do everything I did,” Eakin said.