Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Frenchy' Finds Home on Jags' Line

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Frenchy' Finds Home on Jags' Line

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

It's been five years since the Jaguars had legitimate stability at right tackle, and those who say they envisioned Austin Pasztor emerging as the remedy are lying.

Nobody saw this coming. Not the Jaguars, who, until last year, had the undrafted Pasztor playing left guard after elevating the 6-foot-7, 308-pound lineman off the practice squad near the end of his 2012 rookie season.

And certainly not Pasztor, who, growing up on a 120-acre farm in Langton, Ontario, had visions of being a goaltender after spending most of his childhood playing hockey on ponds and Pee Wee teams with his older brother, Matt.

By age 12, everything changed when he grew to 6-1, 250 pounds. The expense of buying new hockey equipment (his size 17 skate had to be custom-made) and being too big to play goalie pushed Pasztor toward football.

"It was tough to give up hockey because that's the first sport I played," Pasztor said. "Ultimately, I grew to like football more."

"Football seemed like a more practical sport to play because it fit his body style more than hockey," added Rick Pasztor, Austin's father. "I thought he had a shot if he could somehow just get his foot in the door."

The odds of Pasztor becoming anything special in football were long because Canada's best athletes, and all of Pasztor's friends in high school, focused on hockey. Many of them gave up football to avoid getting hurt before hockey season.

It wasn't until the summer before his senior year of high school, when Pasztor made an Ontario all-star team playing games in Virginia, that a door opened. He accepted an offer to play at Fork Union Military Academy, which had a reputation of sending players to Division I colleges.

By December, he had a scholarship to Virginia, where Pasztor played exclusively at guard, despite his body type being a better fit at tackle. Though he was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, Pasztor opted to try the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings but was cut in training camp.

The Jaguars signed him to their practice squad in September 2012. He was more known at the time for his nickname, "Frenchy," given him by strength-and-conditioning coach Tom Myslinski, than anything else.

"I remember watching tape before players even came in [for spring OTAs in 2013] and thought, 'Whose idea was it to put the 6-7 guy at guard?' " Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. "We weren't sure if he'd make the team, so we gave him reps at tackle because he had to play two positions since he wasn't going to be a starter."

Fifteen months ago, Pasztor was fighting for a roster spot, uncertain of a position with the Jaguars or an NFL future. Now he's one of 19 Canadian natives in an NFL training camp, and the only one besides Denver Broncos guard Orlando Franklin projected as a non-special team starter. …

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