Thursday April 24, 2014

Mike Kozushka en route to U of A


Mike Kozushka

Mike Kozushka cranked Paul Brandt’s hit song Alberta Bound when he signed his letter of intent to the University of Alberta this past week. Well not really, but he is excited to take the next step in his football career by joining the Golden Bears’ offensive line.

Kozushka’s decision to head to Edmonton simply came down to their enticing engineering program.

“They were just the best fit for me,” said Kozushka, who played for the Yorkton Regional High School Raider Gridders football program. “The first priority for me was academics and they have a great engineering program. And they have a great football program with a great atmosphere and facility.”

The 6-foot-3 offensive lineman looked at the idea of staying in the Land of the Living Skies, but the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina couldn’t match Edmonton’s engineering setup.

“The U of S and U of R couldn’t compete academically,” said Kozushka. “The U of R wasn’t close and the U of S also weren’t as good for engineering. And for me it came down to my best fit for academics.”

The Yorkton native’s high school football coach, Roby Sharpe, foresaw him moving onto the college ranks long before his senior year.

“He’s the real deal when it comes to the offensive line,” said Sharpe. “He’s got the size (6-foot-3) and the quick feet. I knew he’d play college ball a long time ago because of how dominant he was so early in high school football. He also has the marks. He’s a smart kid that will also thrive in the class room in university.”

Even though there’s an argument that Kozushka could start in CIS this year based on his outstanding play in the high school ranks, he won’t be seeing any game action this season. Because of a school policy, he will be a redshirt player, which essentially means he’ll be on the practice roster.

“The plan is I’ll be redshirting because that’s their policy,” said the Grade 12 student. “That’s their policy for first-year engineer students because you have a six-to-seven class load in first-year engineering and they don’t want anyone to fall behind in academics.”

There is a lot of upside to being a redshirt player right off the hop. It will help ease Kozushka into CIS football and retain a year of his college eligibility.

“I think he’s ready to start this year in CIS, but it’s understandable because of the school policy,” said Sharpe. “It’s probably for the best because it’s good to learn from the sideline at first. It makes the transition to college ball easier.”

Down the road, Kuzushka sees a bright future for him in a Golden Bears jersey.

“They are rebuilding now, but within the next couple of years they’ll be a strong team,” he said. “They have a great program and are headed in the right direction. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Kozushka could see a familiar face in Edmonton in his second year. His brother Peter, who is a Grade 11 student, also has the tools to advance his offensive lineman career to the CIS ranks. But as for right now, it’s totally up in the air on what university the youngest Kozushka will go to.

 “He’s his own person, so I have no clue if he’ll go to the U of A,” said Kozushka. “Alberta is definitely an option, but he’ll go wherever the best fit is for him.”



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