Jerry Ostroski took advantage of the spotlight for his University of Tulsa jersey retirement Saturday to act as an ambassador for his alma mater.
“My life has been molded by my four years at Tulsa,” he said. “I’ll always be indebted to Tulsa for everything I have. It’s been an amazing place and it’s important to me for people to understand how special the place is. This is a special university.”
An All-America offensive lineman in 1991, Ostroski wiped away tears while honored alongside his family with a ceremony at halftime of the Tulane game, becoming the ninth Hurricane football player to have his jersey retired and first since Steve Largent in 2008.
Ostroski, who wore No. 55 at TU, was a three-year starter whose college career concluded with a 10-2 season in 1991 and a victory in the Freedom Bowl. He went on to play eight seasons in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, starting 102 games.
“I was given an opportunity by Tulsa and I’ll never forget it,” Ostroski said. “I was given an opportunity to come to school for free. I was able to get a college degree. I made lifelong friends that are still my friends today. I met my wife (Jayme) there.”
A native of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Ostroski took his first airplane trip at age 17 to visit Tulsa, which he researched after a Hurricane assistant showed up at his high school to recruit him.
“I was like, ‘Where is Tulsa?’ ” he said. “I actually went to the library and looked it up. I was looking at it in the encyclopedia and the atlas and map, trying to figure out where it was.”
After being impressed on his recruiting trip, Ostroski was set on attending TU, which was an 18-hour drive from home.
“I came out here and loved it,” he said. “Even if I had decided not to marry my wife, who is from Muskogee, I was going to live here. I liked it that much.”
Ostroski, 48, is a well-known member of the Tulsa community, co-hosting a daily radio show on the Sports Animal and serving as an assistant coach at Holland Hall. He also is a fixture at TU.
“Not only is he a friend of the program, but he’s a good friend of ours within our coaching ranks and me personally,” Hurricane coach Philip Montgomery said. “He’s just a great example of a guy coming here and doing a great job here and carrying that career on, but coming back and still continuing to give back to the university, give back to the community and helping everybody along the way.”