In its history, SUNY Cortland has had just one player play a game in the National Football League; defensive end R-Kal Truluck (’97) played in 41 games across four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals. Jake Ceresna (’16) is trying to become the second Red Dragon to do so.
Ceresna, also a defensive lineman, played three seasons as a Red Dragon after transferring to Cortland following his freshman year. Across his three seasons, he totaled 142 tackles including 39.5 for loss and 14.5 sacks, highlighted by his senior season when he compiled 63 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Following his graduation from SUNY Cortland, Ceresna was signed to a contract with the New York Jets with an invitation to Training Camp. Unfortunately, after suffering an injury, the Jets released him shortly after. Ceresna then spent the fall of 2016 serving as an assistant coach with the Cortland football team.
After his release, Ceresna went north of the border hoping to continue his playing career, where he would sign a contract with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League for the 2017 season. With Ottawa, he appeared in 14 games, and finished with 18 tackles and a pair of sacks. Following that season, he would sign a contract with the Edmonton Eskimos. 2018 proved to be a breakout season of sorts for Ceresna, as he would go on to play in all 18 games, compiling 32 tackles and eight sacks, a number which tied him for second on the team and seventh in the league.
On December 31, 2018, The New York Giants announced they would be signing Jake Ceresna to a Reserve/Future contract. As he looks forward to getting a second shot at the NFL, Ceresna was kind enough to answer a few questions about his time at Cortland, how he got to where he is, and what he’s looking forward to in the future.
Q: How did SUNY Cortland, academically and/or athletically, prepare you for where you are now?
A: To start, I majored in exercise science at SUNY Cortland which has really helped with off the field training and weight lifting when it came to playing professionally. Me having an understanding of how the body works, what exercises and programming I need for my specific sport, and the information I learned on nutrition at Cortland has helped me tremendously. Athletically, I was lucky to be on a team with a lot of hard working guys and guys that loved to put in extra work all the time. Being around that atmosphere made me work harder and be a better player.
Q: Is there a particular coach or mentor from your Cortland days that you credit with helping you get to where you are now?
A: There’s a lot of coaches that I would credit with helping me get to where I am now. But two that stand out from Cortland are the head coach, Coach MacNeill, who inspired me to become a better person everyday and work to become the best football player I could be. And Coach Agboke, my position coach, he was the first Coach to ever believe that I could play at the pro level and he pushed me every single day and held me to a high standard to make sure I never got lazy.
Q: Back in 2016, you came back and served as an assistant coach for Cortland, is coaching something that you would be interested in doing when your playing career is over?
A: I’m not sure if coaching is something I would want to do after my career is over. I like the idea of coaching high school and younger because I love to actually coach and help people, but once you get to the college and pro levels, coaching becomes more about watching hours on hours of film and recruiting, which I don’t like as much.
Q: You’ve spent the last two years playing in the CFL. Aside from the rule differences, what made that experience unique compared to others you’ve had playing football?
A: Playing in the CFL was a great experience for me because it has helped develop me into a better football player over the past two years. It was also cool to experience a different culture and be able to explore all the cities in Canada and meet great people.
Q: You spent some time in 2016 with the NY Jets, what did you learn from that experience that will help you going forward and what are you most looking forward to about getting another shot at the NFL, with the Giants?
A: Playing with the Jets has taught me that I have the capabilities to play at that level. It’s also taught me the business side of football. What I’m most looking forward to with the Giants is to be able to compete at the highest level of football again and to be able to play on the biggest stage close to home. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
I think it’s safe to say we will all be pulling for Jake big time when Training Camp comes rolling around and beyond.