Young quarterback finds elite company
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
Traditionally, most Southern football recruits come from the Northeast Region, but for their new starting quarterback, freshman Jackson Ostrowsky, it took five states and a highlight tape to become an Owl.
Ostrowsky comes to Southern having grown up and lived most of his life in Mount Pleasant, Mich., roughly two hours from Detroit. However, he was born in New Jersey, has lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts, and has strong family ties to the Northeast. Though he has been on the move for most of his life, football has always been a constant.
“My first year of tackle football was going into second grade,” said Ostrowsky. “My dad’s a football coach, that’s kind of why I moved around a lot. I’ve always been around it, so even when I wasn’t at football when I was growing up, I was always in the football building, around the players, around the coaches — I was just always around it. It’s a part of me, almost.”
Though he played high school football in Michigan, his East Coast ties are what ultimately led to his relationship with the Owls’ coaching staff throughout the recruitment process, particularly offensive coordinator Chris Bergeski, who said he first learned of Ostrowsky from a New Jersey high school coach who had a relationship with Ostrowsky’s father. After some conversation, Bergeski ended up with the young quarterback’s highlight film.
“Just a tough kid,” Bergeski said. “For him in particular, we thought he was just a gritty player — his second clip was of him playing safety, coming down and just whacking somebody in the box, which we all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘well this is a guy who isn’t afraid to do whatever he’s asked to do.’”
That sentiment holds true today in his early career at Southern. When Ostrowsky arrived, he was one of six quarterbacks on the roster and was buried on the depth chart. Initially, he looked on as redshirt senior and captain Matt Sanzaro started through the first three weeks. However, after a rough 0-3 start, the circumstances led to Ostrowski being named the starting quarterback.
“I just went into my meeting with Coach [Bergeski], like I do every week,” said Ostrowsky. “He was like, ‘we’re going to start you this week,’ and we went down to practice and I was getting reps with the ones. I got through
practice, and I went home, and I called my mom and called my dad, and I told them. They were really excited; it was a really exciting deal for us.”
Though he would not win in his first start, he kept the Owls more competitive for a full 60 minutes than they had been all season. His performance ultimately led to him being named the NE10 Conference Rookie of the Week for week four. He started again in week five and led the Owls to their first victory of the season, in a 55-27 thrashing of Franklin Pierce.
After collecting 549 passing yards through two games, the starting job seems to be Ostrowsky’s to lose going forward. Though he has had much success already personally, he is still learning every day.
“One of the biggest things is communication,” Ostrowsky said. “I’ve been talking to these guys nonstop, getting as much help as I can, and they’re really helping me.”
Communication has been key so far with Ostrowsky and his offense. Through their first two together, Otrowsky’s connection with top receiver and sophomore Julian Chung has been strong, and Chung has collected over 100 receiving yards.
“I just tell him to play his game, do what he does,” said Chung. “We talk about certain routes; I’ll tell him how I’m going to run it, or how I’m going to adjust to certain things, so we’re on the same page and we can get that connection.”
Throughout his journey at Southern, Ostrowsky says his top priority is winning. Despite what the current record reads, the Owls’ young quarterback is determined, quickly learning and adapting to the college game.
“Right now, my biggest goal is that I just want to win,” said Ostrowsky, “and every chance I get to help us win, I want to capitalize on that opportunity.”