One of Jake Wieneke’s routes goes full circle.
The newly signed Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver has spent a considerable portion of the off-season in his hometown of Maple Grove, Minn., teaching at the high school where he once starred in football, basketball, and track and field.
Wieneke’s enduring bond with Maple Grove High School and its students is such that he was able to share with them the exciting news about his latest destination.
“During the lunch break, I signed everything,” he says, recalling the events of Feb. 14 — Day 1 of the CFL’s free-agency period. “I came back to my next class and they were all pretty excited. They knew that was the day they were going to find out, so they were pretty invested in it.
“Now we’ve got a whole bunch of Roughriders fans at Maple Grove High School.”
Not to mention innumerable Jake Wieneke fans — which is hardly novel.
As a high school senior in Grade 12, he registered 68 catches for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Next stop: Brookings, S.D., where he excelled for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits from 2014 to 2017.
Uncannily consistent, he caught 16 touchdown passes in each of his freshman, junior and senior seasons. He scored 11 TDs as a sophomore.
The receptions totals, in order: 73, 72, 78 and 65.
Receiving yardage: 1,404, 1,472, 1,316 and 965.
The Minnesota Vikings took notice, signing the 6-foot-4, 221-pounder as an undrafted free agent.
After stints with the Vikings (in 2018) and the Alliance of American Football’s Salt Lake Stallions (2019), he signed with the Montreal Alouettes.
So began the CFL journey for Wieneke and his family.
His parents, Eric and Susan, attended every Alouettes game — home and away — in 2019 and continued to be regulars over the two seasons that ensued. (The 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.)
“They love coming to the games and they’re definitely excited (about the new deal with Saskatchewan),” Wieneke says. “It’s a little closer to home. It’s an 11-hour drive compared to a 19-hour drive.
“It’s very special to know that I can look in the stands and see my wife and my kids and my mom and dad. My brother (Clark) comes to a lot of games and so do a lot of friends. To be able to see them there puts a lot in perspective and it’s a blessing.”
Jake and Brenda Wieneke are blessed with two children and a baby on the way. The family is expected to become a quintet in late June or early July — ideally during the Roughriders’ first bye week of the season.
The couple’s first child, Israel, turns three in May. Israel’s sister, Colette, is 16 months old.
“My son was around the team in Montreal last year and he’s going to be around a lot this year,” a proud father says. “We’ve got him talking about the Roughriders already. I always bring him to practices and games and stuff, so I’m sure he’ll be doing that a lot this year.
“It’s just so much fun and it’s a blessing to be able to share that with my family.”
The Roughriders’ family is also preparing to welcome the third child of Trevor Harris and his wife, Kalie, in late May.
Wieneke was introduced to Harris when the veteran quarterback was traded to Montreal by the Edmonton Elks on Oct. 17, 2021.
The deal was consummated during a banner season for Wieneke, who caught a league-high 11 touchdown passes in 14 games en route to being named a CFL all-star — two years after being decorated as the league’s top rookie.
The Harris-Wieneke rapport continued to grow, on and off the field, in 2022. So it was fitting, then, that both of them signed with the Roughriders.
“I’ve been excited about Saskatchewan ever since I became a free agent,” Wieneke says. “It’s so awesome to go to Sask and play there, with the fan base and the culture and the way of life.
“There are so many great people and I want to be a part of that organization. I’m so grateful that I was able to sign there.
“Trevor Harris is a great friend of mine and I can’t wait to go out there. I’m so grateful to the people of Sask. It’s going to be a fun season.”