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Jesse Madden forges own future, becomes next great QB

Jesse Madden holds a preferred walk-on offer from Michigan. Photo courtesy of Bishop O'Dowd Football
Jesse Madden holds a preferred walk-on offer from Michigan. Photo courtesy of Bishop O'Dowd Football

Bishop O’Dowd senior quarterback Jesse Madden saw the endless possibilities in football from a very early age.

His father, Mike Madden, was Foothill’s freshman football coach. His grandfather, John Madden, is a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who won a Super Bowl with the Raiders as a coach and was a legendary broadcaster.

And going to those games in Pleasanton at Foothill where his father coached, his eyes were open to some of the region’s – and country’s – top players, particularly at the quarterback position. 

Jesse Madden was there watching Kyle Kearns work his way to becoming an East Bay Athletic League champion and a quarterback at Wake Forest, where he also started against powerhouse Clemson. He was also there to watch the quarterback right after Kearns, Ben Wooldridge, sling the rock and earn his way to a scholarship at Fresno State.

Those Foothill teams featured multiple EBAL title winners, including a shared crown with Cal in 2014 in Kearns’ senior season and then Wooldridge and the Falcons winning an outright championship after going a perfect 10-0 during the regular season the following year.

“A guy that I was watching playing high school football in the Bay Area (Kearns) is now starting against the No. 1 team in the nation across the country in North Carolina,” Jesse Madden said. “It’s just insane. 

“And my dad is super supportive. My whole family kind of all played family. At least collegiately. Just to follow in their footsteps is awesome. They’ve just shown me all the possibilities that are in football, being able to make it. My grandpa has made a lot of money through just every job is through football, coaching, playing and then television through football. And just the possibilities are endless with this sport, and I just want to take advantage of those possibilities.”

From those early days to now, Jesse Madden is taking advantage of all those possible chances he can to follow in the footsteps of some of the great ones he has been around in his lifetime.

He started playing flag football in first grade and later found his way to contact football, and from there everyone saw the potential in him. 

As a seventh grader, Jesse Madden was out there throwing with Foothill while his father was the head freshman coach. He hadn’t quite hit his growth spurt yet – he is now 6’2” – but the seeds were planted and eyes were raised.

Jesse Madden would become a college football player someday.

“I realized like, ‘Dang, I could do this,’” Jesse Madden said. “And at the time they had some players that were going to the next level. They had a quarterback who was going to Fresno the next year, and so I watched him a lot and then I was like, ‘Dang, if I can be that guy in like three years, I can take this game to the next level.’ It’s been awesome being able to watch other players who are older than me go, and that gives me the hope that I can take this as long as I can.”

Just a few years later, those college doors are open heading into Jesse Madden’s final year as a Bishop O’Dowd Dragon.

On July 10, Jim Harbaugh – whose Bay Area ties also run deep as a former head coach for Stanford and the 49ers – and Michigan offered Jesse Madden a preferred walk-on spot.

Other Division I schools and FCS programs have inquired about Jesse Madden, who also took unofficial visits along the east coast in the summer of 2019 to schools like Lehigh, Penn, Penn State and Princeton.

“I’ve looked up to coach Harbaugh for so long when he was coaching,” Jesse Madden said. “I’m never a big Niner fan, but when he was coaching Alex Smith and Kaepernick, it was hard to not like them because I’m a Raiders fan, but he was still exciting and getting that preferred walk-on offer is so exciting. It’s not a scholarship, but I’ll take it, anything I can get. That’s super exciting.”

Before Jesse Madden heads off to college, he is working tirelessly to bring some championships to Bishop O’Dowd under first-year head coach David Perry.

He was part of the 2018 squad that went 12-2 and won a North Coast Section title, following it up with 14 touchdowns and 1,472 passing yards in 10 games during his junior campaign.

His sights are even greater for what is now the 2021 campaign – and the wins are waiting just like some of the great ones he grew up idolizing.

“Three things: League championship, NCS championship, state championship,” Jesse Madden said. “Just win. If your goal isn’t to win, I don’t know if you’re doing it right. Everything is about winning, so in as many games as we can. Win all the games that we can.”

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