Mentkowski earns NFL invite

The former Titan’s impressive pro day leads to Jacksonville.

For the third time since 2006, a UW Oshkosh Titan has received an invite to accomplish a dream of making the NFL. Recent graduate Sam Mentkowski is the next Titan to attempt to make the leap.

“If you were to tell me five years ago that I would be in this situation, I would have not believed you,” Mentkowski said.

Mentkowski has accepted an invite to participate in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie minicamp from May 11 to 13.

This Florida camp is for recent undrafted free agents like Mentkowski to showcase their talents to the Jaguars in hopes of earning an NFL contract.

If Mentkowski is able to earn a contract, he will become the third Titan to have earned an NFL deal, after tight ends Bob Docherty (2006) and Joe Sommers (2015).

Mentkowski’s illustrious career as a Titan wide receiver was capped off in 2017, having become a leader in statistical categories for both UWO and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as a whole.

For Oshkosh, Mentkowski leaves his mark in the record books by leading the program in catches, receiving yardage and touchdowns in his four-year career.

His 3,141 yards and 27 receiving touchdowns on 180 catches cements his status as one of the best receivers in Titan history.

Mentkowski is also second all-time in the WIAC for season receiving yards, as he had 1,477 yards last season. His 13 touchdowns in 2017 tied him for 14th overall in WIAC history as well.

In his career, Mentkowski was a part of a team that went 42-9 overall from 2014 to 2017, including three consecutive runs in the playoffs, including the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship.

Mentkowski’s former teammate, senior Jacob Grant, played with Mentkowski for four years and also played the same position as him.

Being by Mentkowski’s side, Grant said he knows how much Mentkowski has worked for this moment and how much it means to get this opportunity.

“I think he is going to do well,” Grant said. “I am happy he got a shot, but he has got odds stacked against him. He has had odds stacked against him for five years and all the way through the draft, so he will make the most out of the opportunity and do well.”

Throughout the entire process leading up to the draft, Mentkowski has been fortunate in having a solid support system from both his family and the Titans football team, according to former UWO player and Mentkowski’s current manager Evan Thammahong.

“One of the main factors that has kept Sam focused along the way is his strong support system,” Thammahong said. “He has a great family that is extremely positive and encouraging, which helps him keep everything in perspective.”

Mentkowski has also stayed in peak physical condition to help his draft stock, working out at NX Level Sports Performance with owner and trainer Brad Arnett.

People have consistently doubted Mentkowski’s chances to earn a spot into the league, according to Mentkowski.
From doubting his decision to work towards the draft all the way to how he will perform at the minicamp, Mentkowski has felt doubt the whole way, but he said it won’t deter him from his overall goal.
“I think we have had to have proved something every step of the way,” Mentkowski said. “First, when the season was over and I decided that I wanted to give it a shot, people kind of just laughed and thought, ‘There is no way anything happens for him.’ Then to get to the pro day, those Badger guys had no idea who I was and they were looking at me like, ‘Who is that guy and what is he doing here?’ And then I went out and put up good numbers and started to get respect.”
In a tweet from sports reporter Dylan Scott of WLUK in Green Bay, Mentkowski said the opportunity he has received with the Jaguars is the chance he needs to make himself stand out from his competition.
“I am not going down there thinking in order for me to get a contract, I have to be so-[and]-so,” Mentkowski said. “It is more so just go down there [and] be myself, learn the playbook the best I can, mentally be ahead of the others and then physically just go out and make plays.”