BOZEMAN — It was only last football season that Travis Jonsen donned a Montana State uniform and was taking the Big Sky Conference by storm. He’s now in his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and only days away from experiencing his first-ever Super Bowl. However, Jonsen's football journey hasn’t always been a smooth one. There was a time he even contemplated hanging up his helmet for good.
Before finding his way to Bozeman, Jonsen was a highly touted quarterback recruit. He started his college career at the University of Oregon and eventually transferred to a California community college for a better shot at the QB position.
“At that point, I was like, 'Is football even for me?'" reflected Jonsen. "But then (former Montana State coach Jeff) Choate found me, and the rest is history.”
Jonsen played his final two seasons at Montana State, where he shifted roles on offense and split time as a quarterback and a receiver.
“I just wanted to play football at the end of the day," said Jonsen. "I was just happy Coach Choate gave me a chance, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from enjoying the game that I love. It really brought joy back into the game, playing receiver.”
Jonsen signed with the Bucs’ practice squad after going undrafted in 2019. He was waived four months later with an injury tag, but the support and guidance from his No. 1 fan helped him find his way back to the field.
“My mom is 100% my biggest supporter, and I thank her because she’d always talk to me about adversity," said Jonsen. "She supported me when I was down, and she supported me when I was up. My whole mental strength is because of her. My mom is why I beat adversity.”
As a way to say thank you to his mother, Jonsen changed his last name to honor his mother's maiden name.
“It reminds me every day that when I go out there, don’t forget the last name on your back," explained Jonsen. "She’s my why. My family, my mom, my grandma, and my brother -- they’re my why.”
While fans won’t necessarily see Jonsen on the field this Sunday, he’s been playing an important role in getting Tampa Bay’s defense ready for Super Bowl LV and said that Tom Brady expects nothing less than a Lombardi Trophy.
“I don’t ever want to take a day off just because I know what Tom brings to the table. He wants to go to the Super Bowl, so my job is to give the defense the best look as possible," Jonsen said. "As soon as he came, there's this whole type of vibe -- like we’re winning this year, we have to win this year and he’s going to basically lead us to it, and look where we are.”