To college and beyond

By Dan Arritt     1/5/2018

Travis Jonsen played one of his best games on that November night in 2013. 

He ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as Servite defeated Westlake 42-21 in the first round of the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division football playoffs. 

Four years later, the Friars haven’t won another playoff game and Jonsen is still searching for the right fit at the college level, most recently signing a letter of intent with Montana State, his third school in the past three years. 

The Bobcats, an FCS team that plays in the Big Sky Conference, seem thrilled to have a quarterback as skilled as Jonsen, whom ranked as the third-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation in the 2015 high school class. Montana State hasn’t won a postseason game since 2012. 

“He’s been on his journey and sees an opportunity here,” Montana State coach Jeff Choate told reporters on Dec. 20, the first day of the early signing period. “He’s an accomplished player and a guy I think brings immediate credibility to that room when he steps in there with some of the things that he achieved as a high school player.” 

Jonsen originally signed with Oregon during his senior year at Servite. He seemed the perfect addition for the Ducks, who were losing Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to the NFL and favored mobile, strong-armed quarterbacks.  

Jonsen even graduated halfway through his senior year at Servite, just so he could get a head start on competing for the starting job during spring drills. 

It wasn’t long before Jonsen was buried by the domino effect of college football transfers. 

Three weeks before the start of the 2015 season, Vernon Adams was cleared by the NCAA to transfer from Eastern Washington to play his senior season at Oregon.  

Despite his late arrival to the program, Adams started the season opener and Jonsen ended up red-shirting. 

The following year, Dakota Prukop transferred from Montana State to play his senior season with the Ducks. Prukop also won the starting job over Jonsen.  

Prukop’s father, coincidentally, is Ted Prukop, who rushed for a school-record 16 touchdowns while helping Servite to section and state titles in 1982. 

A coaching change at Oregon bettered Jonsen’s chances of winning the starting job for the 2017 season, but a poor performance in the annual Spring Game kept him behind others on the depth chart.  

After coming up short of his goal once again, Jonsen decided to transfer to Riverside Community College. 

A month later, Vic Viramontes made the same decision and transferred California to Riverside, once again setting up a stiff competition for Jonsen. 

Viramontes won the starting job and eventually became the top-rated junior college quarterback in the nation. Jonsen, meanwhile, only saw action late in one-sided games. 

Jonsen’s opportunity with Montana State gained traction thanks to recruiting coordinator Michael Pitre, who was an assistant coach at Servite when Jonsen was a freshman.  

The starting quarterback for the Bobcats last season is set to return, but he’s struggled with inconsistency the past two seasons, opening the door for one more shot at a starting job for Jonsen. 

“That’s what we need to be our best,” Choate said. “If we get championship-level quarterback play, look out. That’s what we’re hoping, Travis can come in and compete with guys that are in the program… and bring some maturity and experience with him.”