Brian Witherspoon (Getty Images)
When choosing which Jaguars player I wanted to interview, I wanted to select an exciting player who doesn't get a ton of national publicity. I also wanted to choose a guy who took a tough path to the NFL and wasn't handed anything. Former undrafted rookie Brian Witherspoon was the player I chose, and he gave some great answers to some tough questions on my radio show on ESPN 1420.
Charlie Bernstein: It's early, but how is everything going?
Brian Witherspoon: OTA’s have been real good, the team’s looking real nice, real crisp. We’ve got a lot of young talent out there, our draft picks are looking good, everything’s going real well.”
CB: Your path to the NFL certainly didn't involve any "red carpet treatment." Describe your journey being an undrafted guy from a place that hardly anyone has heard of, Stillman College?
BW: It was a very difficult path, a lot of ups and downs, coming from a small division two school that nobody has ever heard of. A lot of extra hard work, a lot of grinding, a lot of praying. When I got down here for OTA’s and minicamps, a lot of people gave me no chance of making the team. I just continued to work hard, push myself, push my body to the limit, and a lot of good came from it.
CB: Do you feel you have to work that much harder just to make the roster being that the team has a very small monetary investment in you?
BW: Even if you’re a drafted guy, I don’t think that guarantees you anything. Especially on the business side of the NFL. When you come in undrafted, they’re not investing a lot in you, and you have to work that much harder to prove you belong.
CB: You were a rookie last season and you turned heads in the preseason and early on in the season with a couple big kickoff returns. Were you beginning to feel comfortable in your role?
BW: I was very comfortable. I knew that one of the ways I could make the team was with special teams and I took advantage of it. So far it’s worked out pretty well for me.
CB: Near the end of the season, the big returns weren’t quite as prevalent. Was it better coverage, or did you maybe not see the holes quite as quickly?
BW: I think it was better coverage. It’s the NFL. If they want to game plan against you and take you out of a game, they can. My body started to wear down at the end of the season playing at the weight I played at, so that’s why this season I bulked up a little more. Gained about 10-12 pounds.
CB: What weight are you playing at now?
BW: I’m playing at about 185 right now, last year I played at 172.
CB: Have you lost any speed at your new weight?
BW: No, actually I feel a little bit faster. The new strength and conditioning coaches have been great.
CB: At the end of the year you were able to get some reps at corner and did a pretty good job. Do you think the Jags see you as a young guy who can compete for the nickel job or mainly just as a special teams player?
BW: It’s in the works. They’ve worked me in at corner a little more, they’re trying to teach me a little more and help me become a better student of the game, and it’s going pretty good right now, I’m enjoying it.
MORE COMING IN PART 2: Witherspoon talks about the new players (veterans and rookies), his speed, and more...
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive and radio host for ESPN 1420, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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