Don't let Michael Prosuk's height deceive you.
At 6-foot-6, the Westfield, N.J. native might look like a one-dimensional player who could only control the aerial game. But he happens to be light on his feet and loves to play and dribble in tight spaces.
Just ask New Jersey Copa FC coach and president Roberto Aguas, who thinks Prosuk will stand out at the fourth annual NPSL Player Showcase at Austin-Tindall Park in Kissimmee, Fla. Jan. 13-15.
"It's funny. If you write an article about a 6-6 player, that would be one of the things you talk about, a tremendous amount of goals with his head, a great air game," Aguas said. "I would say that's not his strength. What Michael is going to impress people with is his feet. I don't think you see 6-foot-2, 6-foot-4, and certainly not 6-foot-6 players and the kind of feet that he has. He just has great agility, great feet.
"He has an impressive frame. For the size that he has, the level of technical acumen is impressive. How technical he is for his size is something that marvels people. He will impress a lot of professional coaches at this combine because of his size and his technical skills."
Just ask Ohio State men's coach John Bluem, who said that Prosuk brings another dimension to his team. Prosuk transferred to OSU from St. John's University for his junior year last fall.
"There aren't many soccer players his size, unless they're goalkeepers," Bluem said. "And in this particular case to be a winger, a wide forward, it's pretty unusual.
"He's difficult to deal with and that's what you want. Players that are challenging because of their physical attributes, their technical attributes or their mental attributes, always are good on your side. Michael presents a challenge to opponents because of his size, strength and his power. ... For a guy his size, he has deceptive speed and quickness."
Don’t worry. Prosuk has used his height when called upon. "We were hoping that certainly his size somebody who would be very proficient in the air and be a good player on dead ball situations and restarts in both on attack and in defense," Bluem said. "He did prove to be pretty effective."
Prosuk has become accustomed to being compared to former English international Peter Crouch, a 6-foot-7 striker who plays for Stoke City in the English Premier League.
Given his height, the 180-lb. Prosuk also has heard more than his share of "Why aren't you playing basketball?" questions.
"I used to play basketball," he said. "I just wasn't a fan of it. But there's not a lot of 6-foot-6 soccer players out there. So, it's very unique someone my size to play the sport. I just tell people that it's my goal to play professional soccer. It gives me a good chance to really live my dream and achieve my main goal."
That would be to play pro soccer.
That Prosuk can play in close quarters wasn't an accident. When he wasn't training or playing with one of his youth teams, including FC Copa Academy, Prosuk practiced on his own or worked on his skills with his father.
"When I went to Copa, my sessions were very technical based," he said. "They were all passing patterns and very close possession drills. I was able to play close control, quick passes and quick movements. When I got to a bigger field, it was very easy for me. I always imagined myself in a tight space. I always wanted to play one-two touch, very simple. It's just got me to feeling very light on my feet."
Prosuk was above-average height until a growth spurt during his freshman year in high school and became the tallest person in his class. By then, he had developed his soccer skills.
Now, he’ll get another chance to showcase them in Kissimmee.
"I'm really excited to play with kids who play at the same level as me or even better," he said. "It will help especially when I go back to school and play. It will give me some nice experience too playing in front of professional coaches. And I'm also looking forward to playing in warm weather. It should be really fun."
When he had an opportunity to play top-flight amateur soccer with an NPSL club such as a NJ Copa FC player in 2016, he jumped at the chance.
"I remember talking to Roberto when I came home for winter break," he said. "He told me how he was starting an NPSL team, New Jersey Copa FC and how he wanted me to be a part of the first-ever team." I couldn't turn down the offer. I was honored to be part of it. We actually did really well. I thought next year it would be even better and it was. I kept coming back because I love the club. I love what it does. I love how they treat their players and how they become better soccer players. Playing at NJ Copa FC, it helped me become a better and more efficient player on the field, getting used to playing at a high level and getting me ready to go back to school and play at the same level or even higher."
Prosuk helped Copa (7-1-2) capture the Keystone Conference crown last year.
"He has a knack to find himself in great situations," Aguas said. "Somehow he is finding himself making the right run or finding the right rebound. He's a pest."
Aguas was most impressed his forward in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup loss in which Prosuk did not score.
"When it was 1-1 and we were trying to hold the game, we asked him to chase every single ball that was cleared by us into their backs," he said. "The amount of work he put in in that match to be able to keep the tide was just impressive."
Prosuk was smitten with soccer as a youngster. He played baseball at the time, but there was no comparison.
"It is way more exciting and more passionate than any other sport I've played," he said. "The more I grew, the more I played, the more I grew on the sport the more I realized I wanted to become a professional soccer player. And ever since then that has been my goal. The love of the game with me, is like a tremendous honor. I love playing it and I wouldn't play any other sport."
He hopes to use that passion in the showcase as a springboard to a pro career.
"I would do anything to make that happen," he said.
Photo Credit: Simone Ferreira and New Jersey Copa FC