Who Are the Janke Twins? Jadon and Jaxon Janke Are Double Trouble for South Dakota State

    Jadon and Jaxon Janke -- the Janke twins -- are a double threat at wide receiver for a South Dakota State side searching for successive FCS titles.

    As the South Dakota State Jackrabbits attempt to double-up as FCS National Champions on Sunday, the eyes of the college football world will be on a game-changing double act at the heart of their offense.

    The Janke Twins — Jadon and Jaxon Janke — have been at the forefront of the Jackrabbits’ success in recent years, spelling double trouble for defenses around the country.

    Jadon and Jaxon Janke Are Double Trouble for South Dakota State

    Regardless of your scheme, every offense needs a 6’3″, 210-pound wide receiver to dominate defenses.

    What’s better than one game-changing threat at the position? How about a mirror image, a carbon copy? At South Dakota State, Jadon and Jaxon — the Janke Twins — have given the Jackrabbits a pass-catching threat that has posed double trouble in the FCS for several years.

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    Since 2020, no program in the country has had more wins than South Dakota State’s 47 victories. Often overshadowed by the North Dakota State Bison in the national conversation, the Jackrabbits boast the highest winning percentage in the FCS since 2020, winning an incredible 87% of their matchups. The reigning champions can go back-to-back on Sunday in Frisco.

    Unsurprisingly, that success coincides with the emergence of the Janke twins as a powerful double-act for the Jackrabbits. The twin wide receivers arrived in Brookings as part of the 2018 recruiting class, but after seeing minimal action early on in their career, Jadon and Jaxon have become two of the best to do it at the wide receiver position over the past three years in the FCS.

    The Janke twins have asserted themselves into the South Dakota State history books ahead of their final time suiting up for the Jackrabbits. After another impressive campaign that saw both earn All-Missouri Valley Football Conference recognition — Jadon as first-team and Jaxon as an honorable mention — they’re tied for third in career receiving touchdowns with 29.

    Jadon currently sits seventh in the list of the program’s all-time career receiving yards leaders, and with a dominating performance could overtake Cade Johnson and even Dallas Goedert to finish his career as high as fifth. Jaxon needs just 21 more yards to move second all-time ahead of Jeff Tiefenthaler, with only Jake Wieneke preventing his ascent to the very top.

    With a plethora of conference honors, a space on multiple columns of the South Dakota State records books, and having guided South Dakota State to their first ever FCS National Championship — and another in sight — there’s no doubting the impact they’ve had on the program. Meanwhile, the Janke twins have left an indelible mark on the players around them.

    “Those kids are special athletes,” South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski said of the Janke twins, as quoted by the Brookings Register back in December. Gronowski returned to the program for the 2023 season and has reaped the rewards of having a pair of physical pass catchers at the receiver position.

    “I feel like I could throw the ball anywhere and they’re going to be able to get it. …They’re going to go out there and make plays and especially after they catch the ball, they have such a great ability to get yards after the catch and not get tackled. It takes two, three or four people to take them down and you can see that every time they have the ball in their hands.”

    They’ve made their name at South Dakota State, but the Janke twins have been causing double trouble on football fields across South Dakota since they lined up together at the middle school level — where their coaches described them as “pretty special” according to their future high school coach, Max Hodgen.

    “It’s looked since they were in third and fourth grade that they were going to be elite athletes,” assistant coach Max Ricke told the Argus Leader back in 2017. “The way they hit, the way they ran, the way they tackled. They stood out at a very young age and that’s just continued.”

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    That prophecy proved to be correct once the Janke twins moved to Madison High School and began to dominate after seeing minimal action in their freshman seasons.

    “It was almost unfair to the other teams,” Madison senior quarterback Josh Giles told the Argus Leader.

    “Everybody knew if you had Jadon and Jaxon on your team, you wouldn’t lose. It was pretty simple.”

    Between 2015 and 2017, the pair helped the Bulldogs to three state Class 11A championships while putting up ludicrous numbers that would be, once again, a crystal ball moment for what would come later.

    Jaxon was named the 2017 Class 11A Player of the Year, showcasing his pass-catching prowess to 1,310 yards and 24 touchdowns, contributing over half of his high school production. Meanwhile, Jadon’s footballing journey began at the running back position, earning all-state honors after rushing for 1,343 yards and 29 touchdowns during his senior season.

    Forming a different kind of double threat at the high school level — one at wide receiver, the other at running back — to the one they’d come to excel at for South Dakota State, the Janke twins also formed a dominant double act as a two-way threat playing linebacker (Jadon) and safety (Jaxon), with the latter twin snagging four interceptions during his senior season.

    Between growing up on a farm surrounded by older siblings — the Janke twins are the youngest of seven children — and their experiences of playing defense throughout their high school careers, Jadon and Jaxon have developed into physical freaks who are comfortably at home contesting the catch point anywhere on the field, or doing the dirty work in the run game.

    “We just spent a lot of time on both sides of the ball, which I think helped us become just overall great athletes,” Jaxon Janke told the Brookings Register. “It prepared us physically, mentally and our overall conditioning was high because we played so many snaps in high school.”

    Following each other to South Dakota State out of Madison, a testament to the closeness of their relationship, that preparedness wasn’t enough to see them hit the field as true freshmen in 2018. Even in 2019, Jadon took a backseat as Jaxon began to make an impression, earning FCS Freshman American honors from Phil Steele after snagging four touchdowns.

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    Since the spring 2021 season, however, both Janke twins have established themselves as productive, game-changing pass catchers integral to South Dakota State’s success.

    They’ve yo-yo’d between each other as the most productive, with Jadon snagging nine touchdowns in the fall of 2021 while Jaxon stole the show with 1,176 receiving yards and All-MVFC second-team honors. 2022 saw them closely contest each other, with less than 100 yards separating their output, but this time, Jaxon edged the touchdown battle with nine scores to six.

    In the run to a second successive FCS Championship Game appearance, Jadon has emerged as the game-breaking threat for the Jackrabbits, snagging 891 yards and nine touchdowns at an impressive 17.1 yards per catch that speaks to his big play ability. Jaxon, however, still averaged 16.0 yards per catch on his way to 752 yards, five touchdowns, and 57.8 yards per game.

    The intermingling and interchangeability of their statistics is just another element of the closeness of their relationship. There’s poetry in the synergy of their singular careers as a dangerous double-threat combination. It’s the sort of spooky synchronicity that you’d expect from sporting twins, and it’s enabled them to have a spectacular amount of success for South Dakota State.

    “Since we’ve grown up, I don’t know how many days of our lives we’ve spent without being around the other… We’re around each other 24/7,” Jaxon told the Argus Leader in 2017, before they even knew that the next step of their journey would be playing college football together at South Dakota State.

    “You don’t want really want to admit it, but if one of us is taken away, we’re kind of lost without the other one.”

    Thankfully for the Janke twins, for South Dakota State, and for college football fans, they’ve remained together and not gotten lost along the way.

    The result could be a second successive FCS national title for the Jackrabbits, and for Jadon and Jaxon.

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