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Walled Lake Western alumnus getting set to coach in College Football Playoff National Championship

Walled Lake Western alumnus getting set to coach in College Football Playoff National Championship
Walled Lake Western alumnus CJ McGorisk ('12) shaking hands with a Washington football player during warm ups

When CJ McGorisk graduated from Walled Lake Western in 2012, he admits he didn’t see himself coaching. However, 11 years later, McGorisk is getting set to coach on college football’s biggest stage in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

McGorisk is in his second season as defensive quality control coach at the University of Washington. On Monday night, he’ll battle against his alma mater and the team that gave him his start with the national title on the line.

“I grew up a Michigan fan and obviously went to Michigan,” said McGorisk. “It’s pretty surreal how everything has come full circle going through my football journey and now getting to play against the team that I grew up rooting for and a lot of people that I know are cheering for.”

McGorisk, who played quarterback under Mike Zdebski, thought his football career was over after leading the Warriors to the state semifinals in his senior year. However, when he arrived at the University of Michigan, Walled Lake Western math teacher and assistant football coach Mike Wesikopf got McGorisk connected with the football program. McGorisk started out as an equipment manager, then became a strength and conditioning intern, and worked his way up to a defensive student assistant in his final year in Ann Arbor.

“I really enjoyed it, and I really enjoyed working with the guys,” said McGorisk. “We had some great people on staff when I was there that I was able to learn under from the likes of Joe Hastings and Greg Mattison, who were two guys that I worked closely with. By my last season in 2016, those two were pivotal in me continuing to work in football.”

Walled Lake Western alumnus CJ McGorisk ('12) on the field at the Sugar Bowl

After graduating from Michigan in December of 2016, McGorisk made stops at Fresno State (2017-18), Wake Forest (2019-20) and the University of Indiana (2021) as a defensive graduate assistant before landing at the University of Washington last season.

“It’s been a great experience doing this with people that are unbelievable here at the University of Washington,” said McGorisk. “Coach (Kalen) DeBoer, the staff and the players here are what makes it even more rewarding.”

“There’s a great feel within the building, which makes it even more fun to see the success of the guys that we’ve got here at Washington,” added McGorisk. “The fanbase is so awesome out here, the juice around the program, and to see the people that are close to the program from near and far, it would mean a lot to me to see all these people have a chance to raise that (National Championship) trophy.”

While McGorisk is still in “full on Husky mode”, when the final whistle blows on Monday night he’ll be headed to the next stop on his coaching journey. McGorisk was named the new safeties coach at San Diego State University in mid-December.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” said McGorisk. “Getting to know some of the guys on staff, I think Coach (Sean) Lewis put together a really good staff.”

“I’m super grateful for that the way things have worked out,” added McGorisk. “There’s a lot of people that have done this for a really long time and haven’t been able to be in a position that I am fortunate enough to be in, so I am definitely blessed, and I am very, very lucky and thankful to be able to do this the right way with the guys we got up at the University of Washington and finish it out.”