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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Jason Trusnik

Catch Up with the Former Jets Defensive End from Ohio Northern University

Linebacker Jason Trusnik #57 of the New York Jets sets in a stance against the St. Louis Rams on November 9, 2008 at the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Jets wore their green jerseys and white pants.  Jets beat the Rams, 47-3.  (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets).13

By Jason Trusnik's name not being called during the 2007 NFL Draft, it left him with options if he wanted to pursue playing in the league as a free agent.

This just in: He did.

And the two-time Division III All-American defensive end from Ohio Northern University went with the Jets.

"Leading up to that, I didn't really know where I was going to go. I just really wanted the best opportunity. I wasn't worried about the signing bonus, wasn't worried about the money, it was all about the right opportunity to play," Trusnik said.

"And I had chances to go play way many other places for a lot more money. At that point, I was just a young Division III kid trying to find a place in the NFL. Or at least just get to a training camp and see what happens.

"Eric Mangini was the head coach, and he sold me as far as the opportunity. He didn't guarantee anything. He just said, here's a great opportunity, where we're at, the people we're looking for, and the type of person you are."

Clearly one of the people they were looking for, the Jets would place Trusnik on their practice squad to start the 2017 season. Did the defensive end turned outside linebacker look at that as an opportunity to learn about life in the NFL with less pressure?

"Yeah, a little bit. I always had the belief that, 'Hey, I can play in the NFL. I wanted it.' And I remember going through training camp, guys were like, 'Dude, you're going to make at least the practice squad. You work hard, you're smart, you understand the game,'" Trusnik said.

"One guy that I kind of followed was (veteran linebacker) David Bowens. He was smart and knew the game. Vet guys like (linebacker Eric) Barton and Bowens, they taught me to just understand the game and that will make you play so much faster. I always tried to take everything in.

"Just to make practice squad was more than enough for me at that point. The next step is to play. It definitely helped me learn the game going against guys like (offensive tackle) D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The only opportunity I had was to get better going against a guy like that."

Trusnik's first opportunity to play in a game came in Week 11, when the Jets at 1-8, hosted the 7-2 Pittsburgh Steelers before 77,659 fans at Giants Stadium. New York came away with the upset win, 19-16, in overtime.

"It was kind of cool because I grew up a Browns fan, so playing my first game against (their archrivals) Pittsburgh, even though I was in a Jets uniform, was kind of a little bit ironic," Trusnik said. "In college, the most people I played in front of was about 3,500 people. So to run out in that stadium, you could just imagine all the nerves and things.

"You're playing in front a lot of people. You're playing in your first NFL game. A lot of dreams came true at the same time. It really was an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to step on that field. There are multiple people that gave me the opportunity and that believed in me. Between Eric Mangini and (special teams coach) Mike Westhoff, they really helped pave the way for my career and gave me that opportunity to move forward."

Fast forward two seasons to 2009, Trusnik was named as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his September 27 performance in New York's 24-17 win over Tennessee.

"Any type of recognition you can get in the NFL, Special Teams Player of the Week, Special Teams Player of the Year, go to the Pro Bowl, whatever it is, any recognition is great," Trusnik said. "I think it solidifies everything that you've done. So for me, it was always like, OK, what I'm doing is the right thing. And then you get something like that, it's like, you're right, what I was doing is the right thing. It was just, I was going to outwork you. I was going to try to do my thing."

Shortly after that, as part of the trade for wide receiver Braylon Edwards, Trusnik would have to do his thing for the hometown Browns.

"It was a little of mixed emotions being traded to Cleveland," Trusnik said. "From the Jets side, it became my home. I was there for three years. I met who's my wife now in New York. I loved Westhoff. I loved even Rex Ryan, who at that point was my (head) coach. I mean, I would have lived and died for Westhoff or him.

"But it was bittersweet coming back home and obviously coming back with Mangini (who was then the Browns' head coach). It was another opportunity he was giving to me. But it was bittersweet across the board. It was one of those things. I didn't want to leave, but obviously it's the next stage in the NFL and next stage of mine."

Since concluding his 10-year career with the Browns, Dolphins, Vikings, and Saints, Trusnik makes his home in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Nicole, and their children: Austin, Ava, and Tatum; and is keeping busy in the post-playing stage of his life.

"I've gotten into a bunch of things these days, but the main one, I opened a gym here in Strongsville, Pro Sports Performance. I think it was one of the things where my background is education and teaching, I love athletics and the mindset of athletes and adults. And I'm just not teaching 1,2,3 and ABC's. I'm teaching movements and how to become a better athlete, how to go to college, where to go. I honestly feel like the locker room that I lost from the NFL, now I get to hang out with these guys and athletes. It's almost my locker room, a home away from home," Trusnik said.

"And I do some real estate with my two younger brothers, Trusnik Brothers Investments. That's been fun, kind of together building something, have that little link together. And then recently with two friends of mine, opened 3G Ignite Marketing Group, just trying to help people, help local companies, market their business.

"So I definitely stay busy between these three things. And then I have three young kids, so I coach all their sports. I mean, literally, everything. And I love doing it."