A Chinese-born college football player is now playing for Arizona State University in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the most competitive subdivision of the NCAA Division.
Chinese Pride: He Peizhang, also known as Jackson He, was wearing a jersey with his name written in Chinese when he suited up for the Sun Devils on Saturday night.
- He’s American name Jackson was based on Michael Jackson, a singer he adores, BroBible reports.
- He is listed as 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 meters) and 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and plays as a running back.
- The 22-year-old athlete is considered the only known Chinese national currently playing at the FBS level.
- In his Sun Devils profile, He is described as a “physical and smart athlete” who learned the game quickly after having only started “playing football five years ago.”
The road to NCAA: Originally from Shaoguan, Guangdong province, He moved to the U.S. at age 17 to study and ended up playing high school football for two years at Lutheran High School.
- He’s first collegiate football experience was with the University of Jamestown in North Dakota, which signed him in 2016.
- When he returned home to China in 2018, he also got to play for the Foshan Tigers in the American Football League of China, according to South China Morning Post.
- With his aim to play at a Division I school, He eventually enrolled at ASU for the 2019-20 academic year upon his return to the U.S.
- While initially apprehensive about him playing due to concerns about his safety, He’s parents eventually became supportive of him.
- “They told me not to be too aggressive,” He explained in an interview with AZ Family. “When I finish a run, I do some, not extra stuff, but swagger stuff. They tell me not to do that, it’s too aggressive. Chinese culture, they want to be more humble and stuff. Not like (America).”
- He reportedly broke down into tears after receiving his jersey with his name written in Chinese earlier this week.
Other players of Chinese ethnicity who play American football include Chinese American Taylor Rapp, who plays for the Los Angeles Rams, and Ed Wang, who had a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.