Maturity is a valuable trait in a footballer, and Jake Lever exudes it in spades.
Adelaide’s top selection in the 2014 National Draft has endured his share of misfortune in preparation for an AFL career, yet the circumstances perhaps shone a brighter light on some of his most admirable characteristics than otherwise would’ve been possible.
“Coaching is something that, after football, I’m looking forward to, whether that’s at AFL level, junior level or senior level” – Jake Lever
A knee injury in November, 2013 halted Lever’s progress by ruling him out for the entire 2014 season. Lauded for his professionalism in the rehabilitation process, the key defender’s diligence appears to be a contributing factor in being ready for a potential Round 1 AFL debut.
“They (Adelaide) want me to play Round 1, whether that’s in the SANFL or AFL I’m really not sure yet,” Lever told AFLPlayers.com.au last month.
“They’ve been giving me little goals that I have to work on, which I’m looking forward to.
“The knee is really good. It’s been more than a year out so it’s pretty much all fully recovered and back into full training, which is great.”
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) February 26, 2015
Lever’s commitment to the cause and attention to detail belies his 18 years of age. In the absence of on-field opportunities last year, he opted to utilise his time and enhance his development with coaching roles at the Calder Cannons and Vic Metro – a role he already harbours ambitions to pursue when his playing days are over.
“At Calder I helped out the midfield with the coaches down there, which was a great experience, seeing a different side being a backman.
“whatever he says at the moment I’m really just taking it in” – Jake Lever on Daniel Talia
“I also went down to Vic Metro and helped out the backline a little bit. I might have seen something the coaches and other players might not have seen so I was pretty much another helping hand and just learning.
“I guess it (coaching) is something that after football I’m looking forward to, whether that’s at AFL level, junior level or senior level.”
The willingness to broaden horizons has led the highly regarded defensive prospect to seek the advice of All-Australian defender and teammate, Daniel Talia.
Adelaide’s established full-back shapes as the perfect role model and mentor for Lever, who recognises he shares more in common with his possible key post partner than merely positions on the ground.
“He’s now an All Australian full-back and he’s a young player still, so it’s really good to learn off someone that’s a similar age and has similar qualities, especially in his professionalism and his leadership.
“I aspire to hopefully be like him, so whatever he says at the moment I’m really just taking it in and listening to everything he says.”
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) September 16, 2014
It comes as no surprise that being involved in a leadership capacity is an appealing idea for the man who captained Vic Metro as a bottom-ager.
“I think leadership is one of those qualities that I have, not only as a football player but as a person in general in my life.”