Christmas is known as the most wonderful time of the year, but December 21st, 2022, also known as National Signing Day for high school football players across the country. This one will be remembered just as fondly for three Naperville North standouts. At Stonebridge Country Club Aidan Gray, David Olano, and Jackson Kerstin all put pen to paper together in a combined ceremony in front of friends and family, with each athlete taking their talents to the division one level.
“I’m super excited to be able to celebrate this day with them. It’s awesome that they’re going to two phenomenal programs while being able to have the opportunity to play against David just down the state in the Big Ten as well. With Jackson playing for such a dominant program in the FCS, he’s going to do great things,” said future Northwestern Wildcat, Aidan Gray.
“It’s like the first step towards the next four years so that always like the exciting part like that first big step that you’re taking,” said future South Dakota State Jackrabbit, Jackson Kerstin.
From Naperville to Division One
As one of the top ranked quarterbacks in the state, Gray will line up under center at Northwestern University, while Olano heads downstate to kick through the uprights at the University of Illinois. Jackson Kerstin will take his place along the offensive line for FCS powerhouse and perennial national championship contender, South Dakota State.
“When it comes to signing day it’s really truly official. So not only for myself but for all the commits and my class too along with my buddies and me. It’s a great day where we can celebrate and our commitment is official and we’re truly there by taking a step forward playing college football,” said future University of Illinois Kicker David Olano.
Good Friends Celebrating Together
Kerstin and Gray were a part of the Huskie varsity team for the past three seasons while Olano emerged onto the football scene as a junior after focusing primarily on soccer for over ten years. All three have built a great bond while rocking the blue and orange and played major roles in Naperville North making back to back 8A playoff appearances and winning the DVC Championship in 2021.
Now the trio is excited to see what the next chapter will bring after one final celebration as teammates.
“Just playing with them these last few years, it’s been extremely exciting to watch them grow and also watch us grow as a team. It’s been really fun watching us grow as people and not just players. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” said Kerstin.
Early Start vs One More Stay
Olano is getting an early start with the Fighting Illini, graduating high school early and enrolling at the U of I in January. But Kerstin and Gray will remain in the Naperville North hallways for one more semester to cherish their last moments. While the boys are excited for their collegiate opportunity, Naperville North will always have a special place in their hearts.
“Naperville North has been a special place for me all four years. The teachers and coaches’ students it’s really what you look for and being in high school I’m going to miss my friends and being able to play on Friday nights and hang out with them on the weekends, going to practices everyday after school, and cheering on my friends who play basketball. It’s really just a special place to be and it’s going to be something I miss for sure, `said Gray.
Naperville News 17’s Patrick Codo Reports.