Game to be played at Rose Bowl
SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., senior wide receiver J.J. Koski will become the first Cal Poly football player in six years to compete in an all-star game.
Koski accepted in November an invitation to play in the 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The game between National and American all-star teams will kick off at 4 p.m. Pacific and the contest will be televised by NFL Network.
“It’s honestly a blessing to get the recognition and have the opportunity to go out and compete at some of the highest levels of competition offered,” said Koski. “I’m extremely thankful and blessed and it’s a testament to those who helped me get here today.”
Last Mustang to play in an all-star game was linebacker Johnny Millard in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl held in Charleston, S.C. as well as the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., both following the 2013 season.
Slot back Deonte Williams played in the 2013 Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., while cornerback Asa Jackson competed in the Senior Bowl following the 2012 season.
Wide receiver Ramses Barden showed his talents in the 2009 Senior Bowl while Cal Poly’s three Buck Buchanan Award winners — Jordan Beck, Chris Gocong and Kyle Shotwell, landed on East-West Shrine Game rosters in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Cal Poly’s first player to compete in an all-star game was center Stan Sheriff in the 1954 East-West Shrine Classic at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
Koski, who practiced with the American squad Tuesday at the Rose Bowl and will wear No. 86 on Saturday, has been training in Irvine and has signed with Rep1.
“J.J. has proven that he has next-level talent and this invitation validates his abilities,” former Mustang head coach Tim Walsh said in November. “He is a great young man who works hard at the skills to play wide receiver and will represent himself well at the next level.
“He is confident in his abilities and probably the most unselfish player I have coached,” Walsh added. “He’s a great Mustang and congrats, J.J. Koski!”
Koski’s head coach will be Hue Jackson while Marvin Lewis will coach the National Team.
Jackson has coached for the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, among others. A former Idaho State standout, Lewis broke into the NFL ranks in 1992 when he was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers to coach their linebackers, followed by six years as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, one year as an assistant with the Washington Redskins and 16 seasons as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, which included seven playoff appearances and four division titles.
Founded in 2012, the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl gives prospective players the best opportunity to showcase their talents to potential employers and fans. Nearly 200 scouts, player personnel staff, general managers and head coaches from all 32 NFL teams are expected be in attendance to watch live practices, conduct player interviews and review tape.
The National squad won the first seven NFLPA Collegiate Bowls before the American team earned a 10-7 victory last year.
Koski (6-1, 195) was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection in November and also was named to Phil Steele’s Big Sky Conference Team earlier this month.
Koski caught 42 passes for 868 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. With 121 receptions, 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns in his Mustang career, the San Ramon Valley High School graduate is tied for fifth in touchdowns, No. 5 alone in receiving yards and No. 6 in receptions.
His career highs were established in the UC Davis game in October when Koski caught eight passes for 163 yards. Another career high was set in the Eastern Washington contest in November as Koski scored three touchdowns.
Koski, Cal Poly’s leading receiver for three consecutive seasons, was an all-Big Sky third-team selection a year ago and finished his career with a 19.1-yard average per reception, ninth in Cal Poly’s Division I record book.
Koski returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in 2018, the first Mustang to do so in 10 years. He caught 18 passes in 2016, 28 in 2017 and 33 in 2018.