By Connor Kocis
Jake Fuzak is a name to remember, whether it be for his elite performance on the football field or directing the next major motion picture, I can tell you now this kid is going to be a star. Jake was born in rural Springville before moving to Williamsville and getting fed through the public school system. He was always a big kid but never felt the calling to play football until 7th grade when his best friend Justin Moon finally convinced him to strap on the pads. He continued to play through middle school until he found himself before his freshman year at the summer training sessions having his name called up to play with the varsity squad. He will never forget the first play he ran they threw him to the wolves. He was playing linebacker as the offense lined up for a fullback dive headed straight at him, he had one job- stop the full-back from crossing the goal line. They hiked the ball and ran straight into his chest, and when the dust finally settled the fullback was short of the end zone- he did it! Jake said that was the hardest he’s ever been hit, but from that day forward he was infatuated with football and wasn’t looking back.
He started on the defensive line all four years at Williamsville South and began receiving offers to play Division I football his sophomore year starting with hometown favorite, the University of Buffalo. His junior year he received national attention and the offers came flooding in from UConn, Army- West Point, and Old Dominion. After falling in love with the coaching staff and players he committed to play at the University of Buffalo his junior year on the Fourth of July. But of course, life is never easy and his freshman year he was falsely diagnosed with a heart condition where doctors told him if his heart rate got above 135-140 bpm he ran the risk of having a heart attack and dying. He took a step back from football, redshirted his freshman season, and for six months went around the country being seen by multiple doctors, having two MRIs, and five stress echos until finally, they diagnosed Jake with Athlete’s heart. Athlete’s heart is a condition that commonly occurs in bigger athletes who train multiple hours every day, resulting in an enlarged heart and irregular heartbeats, but it is not deadly and he could finally return to playing football. He played defensive line his redshirt-freshman year, seeing action in two games, but ultimately made the transition at the end of the year from hitting the QB to protecting him. He struggled to find a starting role his sophomore and junior year, mainly being used on the reserves team for punts and special teams, until at the end of his junior season his big moment finally presented itself when starting right tackle, Kayode Awosika went down. Jake got his first start in a commanding 49-7 win against rival Bowling Green and carried that momentum into the biggest game of his career where he blocked Steelers 3rd round LB, Alex Highsmith in a 31-9 victory in the Bahamas Bowl. His senior season in 2020 he started all seven games being named 2nd team all-MAC, academic all-MAC, blocked for an offensive line that ranked 2nd in the nation for rushing yards per game (287.4yds), and allowed only one sack. If you lost track of how many years Jake’s been in college up to this point it is five, but when the NCAA canceled the 2020 season short his coach persuaded him to take the extra Covid year and come back for his redshirt-6th year.
As Jake prepares for his final season at UB he has a lot to prove on and off the field. He was named as a preseason favorite for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior lineman in college football. Furthermore, Jake is double majoring in Community Mental Health and Film Production with dreams of eventually directing his own major motion picture like Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean. One of his biggest milestones in the film world was working on the set of A Quiet Place, a thriller starring John Krasinski and taking place in Western New York. Jake was instrumental in the success of that movie and coupled his connections and experience being on that set to working for multiple movies based in WNY, as well as directing his own short which he submitted to film festivals. He was recently accepted into Chapman University’s, Dodge College of Film and Media, a top 4 graduate school for film study. He deferred his acceptance to play his final season for the Bulls in hopes of hearing his name called on draft night. Jake is one of the most humble people I have ever met and exemplifies the lifestyle of living in the present and seizing the day. He lives his life by that motto and every day works to help people understand their goals and passions and fully commit to chasing their dreams so they are truly living their best life. Jake sees himself as a modern-day pirate, comparing his athletic and film ambitions to that of Jack Sparrow seeking that coveted treasure. Additionally, his free-spirited lifestyle living one day at a time mimics that of a pirate sailing the seven seas with no destination in mind, taking what’s theirs while helping those in need. No matter where Jake ends up, whether that be playing on Sundays or walking the red carpet I am confident that he will be the best version of himself, and unlock the treasure chest full of gold and diamonds and the end of his journey. I wish Jake the best of luck this coming season with the Bulls and know one day he will be a star!