USU lineman’s walk-on past leads to success
Published: October 17, 2013 01:36PM
Updated: February 14, 2014 11:36PM
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Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune USU offensive lineman, Jamie Markosian, following practice at the Logan, Utah campus Wednesday, September 18, 2013.

Logan • Jamie Markosian will be the first one to tell you losing back-to-back games doesn’t sit well with him.

As a high school multi-sport star, Markosian hardly ever lost at anything. As a senior, he was a two-way anchor for the 14-0 state champion Juan Diego football team. He was a discus and shotput champion in track, and a region titlist as a heavyweight wrestler.

But as he’s learned how to weather tough times as well as anyone in his years at Utah State.

“Adversity has hit us hard, but that’s life,” he said. “You can’t always expect the easiest way.”

As a returning all-conference honoree, the senior has been “a rock” on the offensive line this year, in the words of offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven. Even as the players behind him have been hurt or swapped out, Markosian has made his mark as a stalwart at guard. He was versatile enough switch to the right side after an injury to Kyle Whimpey, because the coaching staff felt Sini Tauauve’a would be better on the left.

Off the field, the 292-pound scruffy bearded lineman is easygoing. He likes to get away to fish, or play the guitar. He has plans to pursue a graduate degree in civil engineering when his football days are over — although now more NFL scouts are paying attention, that might be pushed back.

When he steps on the gridiron, he flat-out competes.

“Jamie’s as good as any of those guys on the line,” McGiven said. “He understand dedication and hard work, and he knows it doesn’t happen by being complacent. He’s an intense competitor, and more of a vocal leader.”

It’s easy to forget that he began his career as a walk-on, and labored without a scholarship for two years. Playing on the scout team wasn’t terribly fun, and the program wasn’t winning much to boot. Paying his own way was pressure on his family as well.

“You’re not given anything, and you’re put in position where it’s way more difficult for you,” Markosian said. “It’s made me a man. It’s made me be consistent in my effort, and I’ve always been really happy that I did it.”

Utah State has embraced walk-ons as a part of the team’s culture. Gary Andersen surprised Markosian in front of the team by announcing he had earned a scholarship before the 2011 season, and it stands as one of the defining moments of his career.

It’s actually something he hopes his younger brother, Nick Markosian, gets to experience as well.

Nick walked onto the team this fall, also a Juan Diego product. Considerably skinnier, he’ll look to carve a role as a receiver at Utah State.

The brothers were born too far apart to have played together before, but Nick remembers being an eighth-grade waterboy watching Jamie as a senior lineman at Juan Diego. Jamie would get on the field and play as hard as he could.

Finally on the same team, nothing’s changed the way he looks up to his older brother.

“He set the bar pretty high for me, so that makes it a little hard,” Nick Markosian said. “But he knows what I need to do to be successful. Anything I need help on, he’s been there. He’s a great role model to look up to.”

kgoon@sltrib.com

Jamie Markosian at a glance

• Graded out at 83 percent or higher in his blocking assignments this year.

• Has 32 knockdowns this season.

• Switched to right guard after Kyle Whimpey was injured.

• Named to Phil Steele’s midseason third team all-Mountain West.

• Was second-team all-WAC in 2012.