Football captain and senior wide receiver J.J. Koski has been the Mustangs’ leading receiver for the past two years. An integral part of the Mustang offense, Koski was listed as the No. 1 wide receiver on Cal Poly’s depth charts heading into the 2019 season. The Danville native spoke about leading by example, expectations and fishing.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Mustang News: With the departure of Joe Protheroe and Khaleel Jenkins, did you know you would be stepping into a bigger leadership role this year?
Koski: Yeah, I think so. Knowing we run the triple option just feels like there’s only so much I can do. But this off-season we put in some game plans to get me in the slot more, to get me moving around a lot more. And [Jalen Hamler] stepped in and filled that role really well. As a redshirt freshman, that guy shows some poise in the pocket, and he can move. He can do it all. It’s exciting playing with a guy like that who’s got that much potential back there, and he makes some big plays every Saturday.
MN: How has it been taking on that role?
Koski: It’s been a lot different being a captain this year because I’m not the most vocal guy, but I think I’ve always kind of showed through my play and helped the younger kids along … it’s been a lot of fun for me to see them progress throughout the summer, and it’s a big step from high school to come in here and learn a whole new playbook. It’s just a lot for some of these kids, so it’s been fun taking that role and taking some of these kids under my wing.
MN: What is it like playing for a school that runs a triple option offense?
Koski: Even though it’s triple option, I feel like I can be really productive in this offense. And I think this year, we’re taking steps to being more of a dual-threat team. We’ve shown that in the past games this year we can make some big plays. We’re making strides to definitely open up the pass game and make big plays when we can.
MN: What’s new with Cal Poly’s offense?
Koski: We’re doing a lot of the same stuff but just putting tweaks on different things. The coaches put us in some great spots in the first couple of games where it expanded our playbook a little bit. Our wide receiver, Quentin Harrison, he’s taken some big strides in this off-season and coming into the season, so that helps a lot. We got two guys on the outside who can make big plays any moment in the game. The coaches are putting us in some good spots. Definitely.
MN: Can you elaborate on leading by example while on the field?
Koski: I try to be super mentally tough out there and limit my mental mistakes, which leads to big plays and physical plays. So yeah, I don’t say much on the field … I think when I get out there and I strap it on, I’m all business going into the game.
MN: Have you ever missed a game in your time here?
Koski: No, I’ve actually not. Never missed a game. I knock on wood every time I say that, but I pride myself on that – being tough. If there’s any way I can play, I’m going to be out there no matter what.
MN: What’s the secret to staying healthy?
Koski: Honestly, I think a lot of people overlook taking care of your body. I really emphasize that throughout the season – eating really well, getting your sleep. I was just talking earlier about our early morning wake ups. You’ve got to get to bed by 10 [p.m.], hopefully. We get up at 5 [a.m.] everyday. So just taking care of your body and not getting too far away from that throughout the whole season really can help.
MN: What do you want people to know about you?
Koski: I really like to fish. I love the outdoors, honestly. Love hikes. Love fishing. I went fishing this summer with my dad and some buddies up in Canada. So I’m a huge outdoors guy. When I want to get away from football, that’s usually what I want to go do. I bet people probably wouldn’t know that about me just from talking, but yeah, that’s one of the things I really like to do.
MN: What should people expect to see from you the rest of the season?
Koski: Hopefully, big plays. Every time I touch the ball, I feel like I can have a pretty big impact on the game. I know being in a triple option, you don’t get the amount of touches you get at, let’s say, a spread offense or something like that. But anytime the ball is in my hands, I can make a big play and put six points on the board. Hopefully in the coming weeks, that’s what’s going to happen.