|J.J. Koski holds up the Most Valuable Player trophy during the Passing Down Nor Cal Regional in March 2014. Since his MVP performance, Koski has heated up on the recruiting trail at wide receiver (photo contributed).|
The corridor between Hayward and Pleasanton is known for game changers like Isaiah Langley (Foothill-Pleasanton, USC commit), Darrell Adams (Stellar Prep-Hayward, three scholarship offers including Arizona State), Dominic Williams (Hayward High, leads North Coast Section with 737 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions) and Carter Nichols (San Ramon Valley-Danville, leads his team with 16.9 average yards per catch).
Koski - despite missing several summer camps due to a foot injury he had in June 2014 - is doing his part under the East Bay lights with piling up the yards and touchdowns, plus having his phone ring with college coaches on the other line.
Koski told Cali Gold Mine that "over 20 programs in the last week" have picked up interest in the 6-foot-1, 185-pound target. Koski said he's seen his skills enhance on the field.
"My game has improved dramatically since last year," Koski said. "I ran track in the spring, which improved my speed, and I can read defensive coverages better which allows me to play faster. Plus this is my third year on varsity."
Through three games, Koski has a team-high 20 receptions, 204 yards (second on the Wolves) and four touchdowns. On the field, Koski torments defensive backs in man coverage.
He's shown a smooth cut with his routes and gains separation on his defender; then finishes the play by hauling in the catch and turning on the afterburners for the touchdown. Despite not having an ideal towering frame for a red zone target, Koski has won the red zone battles too. He's gotten in front of his defender, turned his body to the ball, and snatched possession of the touchdown.
He's learned to win the mental edge against a defender.
"When I line up across from a cornerback, it usually takes me only a play or two to determine their quality of play and tendencies.," Koski said. "I Just want the ball. On every play, I know my speed and ability to make a play when it counts. It trumps anyone I line up against."
The senior is considered an underrated prospect in Northern California. While more schools are asking about him, Cal Poly and the University of Montana are Koski's only scholarship offers. Both hail from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Koski, who said he admires Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers "due to his work ethic and focus," plans on committing to a school before National Signing Day.
"As of now, I'm just focusing on playing under those Friday Night Lights, because it doesn’t get much better than that," Koski said.
CALI GOLD MINE'S TAKE
What to like: Koski is a natural route runner. He won't just run his plays at full speed, he'll finish his route. One of the most important traits for an elite wide receiver is to consistently win one-on-one battles, regardless of how athletic or tall a cornerback is. Koski does just that. He shows excellent concentration and body adjustment to his receptions, especially with passes that are away from his body. He's a fearless competitor who won't hesitate to run inside on a screen pass or take a punt return, which is something he also does.
What to build on: Koski doesn't have the best speed and even though he's beaten secondaries deep, he can get caught from behind. During screen plays or when he gets redirected inside on a passing play, I noticed Koski tends to swing the ball away from his body while he runs, which could lead to numerous fumbles at the next level. He runs upright and can work on staying low to the ground after the catch.
Overall: Koski is reminding me of a young Jordy Nelson because of his work ethic and big play capability. He plays like a future Mountain West, Big Sky or PAC-12 wideout. Whoever lands him come February 2015 will get a potential steal.
More on Koski: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1605417/highlights/90397379