116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s a very respectful kid.
It’s impossible not to notice how many times Christian Janis says “Yes, sir” when you talk to him. Makes you think he must have some sort of military background, or perhaps he’s originally from the South, where that seems to be a common colloquialism.
When it comes to the senior wide receiver from Iowa City West, it’s actually both.
He was born in Tennessee. His father, Christopher, is a Master Sergeant in the Army, who’s a ROTC military instructor at the University of Iowa.
“I wouldn’t say my dad is a strict guy, but he teaches you manners and stuff like that, just like every dad is supposed to,” Christian Janis said. “It just helps you with conversations and how to treat and respect others. Helps you know how to treat seniority.”
The Janises have lived around the country, as you’d expect considering Christopher Janis’ career. The family went from Tennessee to Kentucky to Louisiana to upstate New York before settling in Iowa City at the end of Christian’s eighth-grade school year.
That’s tough on any kid. He has to leave friends and then find new ones every place he goes.
Sports have been a great way for Janis to do that. He’s a high-level swimmer, a top-notch sprinter on the West track and field team, and an emerging player on the football field.
“Obviously being in the military, we’ve moved around a lot,” Janis said. “The aspect of making friends is hard (enough). But from the football aspect of things, you’ve got to prove yourself every time you move. It’s not like you’re one of those kids who grew up in the program, so you’ve got to try and make a name for yourself everywhere you go.”
Janis has 14 receptions in West’s first three games, with five touchdowns. He’s averaging 26.6 yards per catch.
Throw in the fact he also has TDs on an interception return and punt return, that he’s a listed 6-foot-4 with speed, and the kid definitely is making a name for himself.
And he appears on his way to achieving his lifelong goal of playing college football.
“He’s a legit receiver,” said West Coach Garrett Hartwig. “We’ve had a string of them since I’ve been head coach. I’ve been very fortunate. From Oliver Martin to Traevis Buchanan, Jalen Gaudet, Grahm Goering, he’s right there. He does some things better than all four of those guys. There are areas he needs to continue to improve.
“He’s 6-3, he’s got track speed, but I credit his work ethic more than anything. He’s an all-state caliber swimmer, he’s an all-state caliber track athlete, but he never misses a workout in the winter time or the spring unless I tell him not to go. He’s a grinder. He’s getting everything he deserves, as far as the success on the field. I hope it continues.”
Janis had five receptions, including a touchdown, in West’s opener last year against Cedar Rapids Kennedy when he suffered a broken collarbone in the third quarter that forced him to miss the rest of the season. He dove for a low pass and landed on his shoulder, with a Kennedy defender falling on him and causing the break.
It was crucial missed development time for a guy who’d been a quarterback his first two years in the West program. Not that you can tell, with the great production he has provided for the Trojans one-third of the way through this regular season.
“It just feels good to be back on the field and especially with my teammates,” Janis said. “Obviously last year not being able to play with them was really hard on me, but I think I’m affecting the team in a positive way at this point. It’s really all about winning, so I just really do all that I can for the team.”
Colleges are noticing Janis. Iowa invited him in to watch last week’s game at Kinnick Stadium against Iowa State.
His quickly expanding game tape should help him get noticed by others. West (2-1) plays Thursday night at Davenport North (0-3).
“It was just kind of a reminder that this is where I want to be, this is what I want to do,” Janis said of his Kinnick experience. “Obviously not having a junior season makes it hard. Right now, I feel like I’ve just got to keep playing how I’m playing. Let the pieces align, and whatever happens, happens at this point. But I feel like I’m in a good spot.”
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