Langton’s Austin Pasztor has realized his dream of playing in the National Football League.
Pasztor was signed to the active roster late last week by the Jacksonville Jaguars and was immediately named the starter at left guard for last Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. The 6-foot-8, 308-pound rookie lineman played the entire game Sunday, which ended in a 24-3 Miami victory.
In doing so, he becomes the first person from Norfolk County to play in a regular season NFL contest.
“I tried to do my best, but we lost the game and that [stinks],” Pasztor told Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union immediately following the game. “My teammates did a great job with me before the game keeping my nerves down and honestly, I was more excited than nervous. Even before the first play, when I was lined up, it was just football and I’ve been doing that a long time even though it’s my rookie year.”
While Pasztor was calm, cool and collected heading into the game, his parents Richard and Connie Pasztor were certainly battling a few butterflies Sunday.
Richard admitted to being a little nervous beforehand, but said those nerves vanished come game time.
“It’s hard to explain, really,” Richard Pasztor said. “It was exciting, and we’re all really proud of him of course. I don’t know, it’s tough to put it into words.”
Richard said all the people in the community have been incredibly supportive of Austin and the family has received numerous phone calls and messages over the last few days. But while friends and family may have wanted to share in the excitement of Austin’s first game, his parents weren’t about to let anything distract them from the moment.
“I wanted to make sure I watched his first game alone, because that way I could really pay attention and take it all in,” Richard said.
Richard is in regular contact with his son, and said Austin was “happy as anything” when he got the call, but also knew he had a job to do. Even though this was the moment Austin had been working towards, he couldn’t allow himself to get caught up in the hype and lose perspective.
His approach worked, as Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey announced Monday that Pasztor will start at left guard again this coming week against the New England Patriots.
“He did better than any of us expected,” Mularkey said in his Monday press conference.
Looking back, it’s been one steady climb to the top for the Langton native who just turned 22 last month.
He began his journey at Glendale High School in Tillsonburg, before transferring to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia to pursue his goal of one day playing in the NFL. He went on to become an all-American at the University of Virginia, starting in all four seasons he was with the Cavaliers.
Although he was not selected in this year’s NFL Draft, he was immediately signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings the next day. He played through the preseason with Minnesota, but ended up being cut by the Vikings prior to the regular season.
Although he was selected fourth overall in the CFL Draft by the Edmonton Eskimos, he decided to forgo that opportunity and continue following his NFL dreams south of the border. In early September, just two weeks into the NFL season, Pasztor was signed by Jacksonville to their practice roster.
He continued to work with the team in that role and improve his skills with the help of the coaching staff in Florida. That work finally paid off Sunday.
Jacksonville is 2-12 this season, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for worst record in the league. Sunday’s game against New England is in Jacksonville at 1 p.m.
519-426-3528 ext. 134