Sept. 20, 2015
Most everyone has that one special event that will forever be remembered - the landing on the moon, the day JFK was assassinated, the falling of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, a wedding day or a child's birth to name a few. Senior wide receiver Jenson Stoshak will always remember December 8, 2012.
Stoshak had just completed his freshman season, a season that saw the Jacksonville native take a chance by foregoing scholarship offers at other universities for the opportunity to play football at Florida Atlantic University as a walk-on.
"Two weeks before signing day, I got a call from Coach (Jeff) Sims," said Stoshak about his first contact with the previous coaching staff. "A school that I had planned to attend filled its receiver slots and was no longer an option. I was invited to visit FAU and Boca Raton. I fell in love with it. I loved the location. It is a good atmosphere and was a new coaching staff. I thought this is a good deal."
Stoshak seized the opportunity to join the Owls.
By season end, he had played in 10 of the team's 12 games, earned a starting spot, tallied 15 receptions, 259 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Seven days after the final game of the season, on Dec. 8, 2012, the Owls were scheduled to hold their season-ending banquet and Stoshak didn't want to be there.
It wasn't out of disrespect. It was out of loyalty to his family and for his best friend - his brother Jake.
"I asked permission to miss the banquet to support Jake, who was playing in the high school state championship game," said Stoshak. "I was told 'no -you need to be there."
Stoshak attended the banquet.
In the head coach's unscripted closing remarks, three players were called to the stage. Stoshak was the second to be called forward. One by one their individual contributions were praised and then it was announced that they had each earned and would be placed on scholarship the following season.
"I will never forget the day I was told I would be on scholarship," said Stoshak. "I walked up to Coach Pelini and said thank you so much for this. He said 'don't tell your brother, but I'm going to offer him too'. I didn't have the words to thank him for everything he was doing for my family. It was amazing. I called my Mom (Julie) and she broke down in tears. It was a great experience and they (Jake's team) won the state championship."
Jenson didn't stop working just because he had earned a scholarship. As a student of the game and someone who aspires to coach, Stoshak spends his free time watching film.
"I study film on opponents. I study film on our guys," said Stoshak. "If I notice something a defensive back is doing that an opponent's receiver can pick up on. I tell them,' you shade this way, allowing me to go this way.' It is a big learning opportunity. I'm a firm believer in trying to get everyone better and not just myself."
Stoshak is known for his work ethic on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom. He has tested at one of the highest work rates on the field.
"I went against D'Joun (D'Joun Smith, a 2014 NFL draft pick) for three years," said Stoshak. "I knew he was going to give me his best shot and I was going to have to give my best as well. Cre'von (Cre'Von LeBlanc, a current teammate) and all of the DBs work hard and it makes the receivers better. It is all about being aware of your surroundings and your situation, on every play."
Following Stoshak's sophomore campaign, a season that saw the 6-1, 195 pounder see action in every contest, record 23 receptions for 298 yards, FAU would welcome Charlie Partridge as head coach. Partridge brought many of the values which Stoshak had built his young career upon and Stoshak continued to increase his production. In 2014, the junior grabbed 37 passes, lined up at both wide out positions as well as the slot and returned for his senior season as the team's leading receiver with 508 yards. He currently leads the Owls, through three games, with 17 catches for 273 yards and one TD.
"He (Partridge) is big on accountability," added Stoshak. "It is just like in a game, one guy gets a holding penalty the whole offense gets penalized for it. Coach Partridge stresses to know what is going on in your teammates' lives because that could affect how they play on the field and how they are off the field. If you know what is going on, you can help them or just be there for them when they need it."
While Partridge's values were familiar to Stoshak, the most familiar face was the player lining up on the opposite side of the ball as the Owls welcomed Jake Stoshak to the team in the summer of 2014. While Jake's transition to college may have been made easier with an older brother on the team, the competition between receiver and DB was only elevated.
"During the spring game (2015), we had two plays together. I ran a route but, the ball didn't' come my way." said Jenson, the older of the two Stoshak brothers. "Of course, he holds that over my head. 'Oh you didn't get the ball. I got you.'"
With Stoshak's proven work ethic, he will have many more days to remember. But, while he is playing for FAU, he will continue to provide leaping catches and memories for the FAU fans to share, much like his three backflip catches that highlighted the play of the day on ESPN's SportsCenter during the summer of 2015.