You've heard the story before. An Ohio Northern linebacker finishes his collegiate career and hopes he gets a call from an NFL team.
"It is an uneasy feeling," Jason Trusnik said. "First, you're just hoping you're going to play and continue your football career. Then you don't know where you're going to play. Also, for me, it was going to be whether I would play linebacker or D-end. So there were a whole lot of things I was uncertain about. But at the same time you're real excited, excited to move on and play football."
Eleven months later, ONU linebacker Lenny Trusnik lives with that same uneasy feeling his older brother endured not so long ago.
After seven rounds of the 2007 NFL Draft, Jason Trusnik immediately became a priority undrafted free agent signing for a number of teams. One of the most dominant players to suit up at Ohio Northern, he left as the Division III school's all-time career leader in sacks (43) and tackles for loss (85).
The Jets, who had kept in contact with Trusnik's representation in the weeks prior to the draft through college scouting coordinator Jason Mandolesi, were able to strike a deal in those frantic moments after the selection process when all 32 teams basically go on an Easter egg hunt to see who's left.
"I just chose the Jets because I thought it was a good fit, just from talking to some of the coaches, talking to Coach Mangini and sitting down with my agent," Trusnik said. "Obviously it's a quick decision right then and there. The Jets were at the top of the list. It worked out real well and I'm happy I picked the Jets."
Signed to the practice squad in early September, Trusnik, who received practice player of the week recognition for his outstanding job mimicking Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, eventually was added to the active roster on Nov. 16. He was active for six games in the season's second half, posting six special teams tackles after having earned a starting spot on Mike Westhoff's coverage unit.
"For me to improve over time and for the coaches to see that, it really made me feel good that my hard work had paid off," he said. "It was an incredible feeling to be out there on the field and playing on Sunday. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Now a regular at Weeb Ewbank Hall, Trusnik might be found watching video with David Harris, picking the brain of LB coach Jim Herrmann or working out under strength coach Sal Alosi's watchful eye. In fact, Trusnik was in the weight room daily with 10 to 15 of his teammates well before the club's voluntary program commenced March 17.
"Sal was just getting us ready," he said. "A lot of us were first-year and second-year guys and he was getting us ready for the off-season program that we just started a week ago. He made sure our bodies were ready when we hit that day, that we were already maybe one step ahead or had an edge."
Lenny Trusnik — Jason's little bro — is searching for an edge while finishing up in school. He also has pro aspirations after registering 106 tackles (including 11.5 TFL) and 4.5 sacks his senior season. The 5'11", 227-pounder was a two-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference first-team selection as a middle linebacker and also received the Bill Edwards Award as the league's top linebacker.
"He's doing the same thing right now, playing the waiting game. I just tell him to keep working hard and that's one thing I did," Jason said. "Coming from a smaller school, you never know what's going to happen and all you can do is wait for that opportunity. I told him to do what you can handle on your own and let everything else fall into place."
But no two roads are the same. Whereas J-Trus (6'4", 250) was a dominant DE in a 4-3 and displayed enough athleticism at linebacker to play outside in a 3-4, L-Trus might have to make a more dramatic move.
"He went into an all-star game and played fullback," Jason said.. "I think at this level it will be a little bit better fit for him because he's a little bit shorter and maybe a little bit smaller. I do think he would make one heck of a special teams player because of his work ethic and he just loves to hit and play football."
The two Trusniks are scrappy, determined and ready for battle. While his brother yearns for a taste of the NFL, Jason has experienced a pro Sunday and knows it's addictive.
"The feeling that I had for those last six games, I want to feel it for a whole season," he said. "I think that gives me a little kick in the butt to get going."