It’s not easy being a star wide receiver in a run-heavy, triple option offense in college. However, senior wide receiver J.J. Koski managed to make a name for himself as a focal point of the Cal Poly offense for four years in a row, with 2019 capping off a historic career. His time as a Mustang even led Koski to draw interest from numerous NFL scouts.
“We knew we had something special when he got here his first year,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “He has been able to improve upon his toughness and the little things at the receiver position.”
To add onto his impressive career accolades, Koski accepted an invitation to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January 2020. The Collegiate Bowl is a highly-competitive postseason all-star game for college football players who are eligible for the NFL Draft in 2020. Scouts, general managers, and head coaches from NFL organizations attend the event every year, giving players plenty of exposure at the professional level.
Koski will be the first Mustang in six years to participate in an all-star game. The last Mustang to participate in an all-star game was linebacker Johnny Millard in 2013. Millard went on to play for the St. Louis Rams for a brief period of time.
“The thing I am most excited about is going out against the best of the best all across the nation and proving what I can do on the field,” Koski said. “I’m confident in what I can do and show out there, and I’m looking to show that I am an all-around football player.”
Koski’s Cal Poly Career
As an incoming freshman, Koski said he came to Cal Poly with the mindset that he could make an impact as a No. 1 receiver even in Cal Poly’s offense, which is geared towards the running game.
“I knew that if I proved myself when I got my opportunities, then the coaches would get me the ball,” Koski said. “I’ve always been that hard worker and I’ve never really known any other option than to put my head down and work hard. I knew my time would come.”
This hard working attitude would prove to pay off for the 6’1” receiver, as he soon became the leading wideout in Cal Poly’s offense within his first two years with the team.
Koski’s numbers steadily increased over the past four years as he cemented himself as the No. 1 receiver in the Mustang offense.
As a freshman, he reeled in 18 receptions for 323 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games played. In his final year in green and gold, he racked up 41 catches for 862 yards and 8 touchdowns.
“I’ve grown in a lot of aspects of my game,” Koski said. “From getting stronger in the weight room, to my mental toughness, I’ve grown a lot as a player.”
The leading receiver never missed a game, suiting up for all 44 games in four seasons with the team.
“He loves the game of football and he doesn’t want to miss a game,” Walsh said. “He always says ‘I can,’ which allows him to do the things he wants to do and allows him to stay healthy.”
After proving his value and consistency on the field during his first three years as a Mustang, he was challenged with being thrown into a leadership role as a team captain in his final season.
“I’ve never been much of a vocal leader,” Koski said. “It’s been fun to build a relationship with the younger guys and teach them the things that I wish I had known my freshman year.”
With leadership came the ability to help those around him become better players. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler worked with Koski throughout the off season and the regular season.
“I can always count on [Koski] to be where I need him to be at the times when I need him to be there,” Hamler said. “He makes my job easier. He is always picking everybody’s heads up no matter what the score is, telling them that we have to play ball no matter what.”
In four years, Koski solidified himself as one of the greatest wide receivers to put on a Cal Poly uniform. With 120 catches, 2,305 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns, Koski is within the top five all-time players for each of these categories in program history.
When asked about his achievements during the past four years and being considered one of the greats, Koski said that it’s “pretty special.”
“I feel like I’m the same kid that came in here my first day,” Koski said. “There’s a lot of help and effort that has gone into this.”
Although his Cal Poly career has come to a close, Koski cemented his legacy in the Cal Poly record books. Now, he will hope to hear his name called next June in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“I always knew deep down that if I got the opportunity, I would be successful,” Koski said. “Last year, I took a big step and actually began to think that I could do this beyond college.”