Josh Jackson Goes In-Depth on Decision to Enter NFL Draft
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Josh Jackson announced earlier this week that he was foregoing his senior season at Iowa and entering the NFL Draft. Friday, the all-American cornerback joined us on KGYM radio to talk about his decision and a lot more.
You can listen to the interview and download the podcast HERE.
Below is the transcript of our interview:
Q. What’s this year been like for you?
Josh Jackson: It’s been really amazing and really a great opportunity for me to come into this year and set high goals after the Outback Bowl and really attain them. I set the goals but to attain them is a whole different beast, itself. Just looking back in the year, I’m just happy with how it went.
Q. When did leaving early for the NFL become a possibility for you?
JJ: After the Ohio State game, a lot of people were starting to mention it to me and just telling me about the impact that I made across the nation. That’s really when things started kind of blowing up. The next week at Wisconsin I did similar things and it really kind of came to life at that point.
Q. Did you talk with any former Hawkeyes about the decision or was this more of a family decision?
JJ: It was definitely an internal family decision. I talked to a couple former players and things like that, but it mainly came from me and my family. We sat down and we weight out the pros and the cons. We just felt the odds were good enough to go. We prayed and things like that and took our chance. Now I’m entered into the draft.
Q. What did you hear from NFL people that led you to think this was your time?
JJ: We sent into the NFL draft advisory and all the results came back pretty positive. I saw some comments as far as first-round, actually a couple comments saying first-round. That’s kind of how I made my decision and what really gave me a guaranteed decision.
Q. What will this time leading up to the draft be like for you?
JJ: It’s really exciting. I’ve started working out and doing some things now. I’m back in Texas with my family and so I’m working out here. I signed with Vayner Sports. My agent is Tommy Sims. They are a really good agency. So, I’ll be working out here for about eight weeks. After that, I’ll head up to the combine. I hope to do good in that. After that, I’ll have a little break and come back (to Texas) and then it will be time for the draft. That’s in Dallas, which is exciting for me and really close to home. I’m sure all of my family will be happy with it being close to the area. It’s going to be a crazy and hectic next three months. I’m really looking forward to it.
Q. With so much focus on Texas high school football, how were you a two-star that slipped through the cracks during recruiting?
JJ: A lot of hard work and dedication was the main formula that I lived by just trying to perfect my crafty every day and not be complacent. Just keep working, really, that’s the main thing and just never quit and giving up on your dreams. This was a big dream of mine since I started playing football. As you fail and come back and try again, you start to see success. After a while, the door opened for me and I just wanted to run at it full speed and take full advantage of it. God blessed me with the opportunities and this season turned out the way it did.
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Q. The combine seems like it’s something suited for you. Do you feel like that’s an opportunity for you to shine and boost your stock even more?
JJ: Yeah, definitely. I’ve seen some of the drills that they do as far as running and jumping and some of the defensive back drills that they do. I think I’m prepared for it. I think it will be a surprise to a lot of scouts to see what I do. I’m really excited to go out there and just give it my all.
Q. We had C.J. Beathard on the show earlier this year and he was gushing about your athletic ability, particularly your jumping ability. What is your vertical leap?
JJ: The highest I got so far is a 42.5. That was on the jump pad. I jumped a 40 just on the regular where you jump up and hit the things. I’m not sure what it’s called. It’s the combine vertical jump. I got 40 on that.
Q. How do you think the Iowa program is going to help you at preparing for the NFL?
JJ: Just looking at the other colleges’ strength and conditioning staffs compared to ours, I can see a big difference, just the way we’re built and the way we come out and prepare each and every day and just the way we work.
Q. Was it a bittersweet decision to go early to the NFL considering how much you love your Iowa teammates and coaches?
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JJ: Most definitely. I love each and every one of my teammates just being able to play with them and go through the tough times with the training and everything. With all that we;ve been through, that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. But there comes a point in time where…I talked to my teammates and they all understood what I was going through and they were very supportive. I’m just every thankful for that.
Q. Will there be a moment or two that will stick out to you 10 or 20 years down the road that were the most memorable from this past season?
JJ: I think the main thing for me was just the chemistry that the defense and the offense had throughout the game, just the way we fed off each other. I think that was the most impressive thing for me.
Q. You had mentioned to us that you were on course to graduate in May. Are you still going to shoot for that or are you going to focus on preparing for the draft and then finishing your education at a later time?
JJ: That’s still a decision that I’m still working out with my advisor right now. We’re trying to find out what’s best to do and how we can accomplish those next couple of credits in order to finish my degree. It’s definitely still a working decision.
Q. Your old news now. You’re not on the team anymore. People want to know who is the next Josh Jackson or who is going to fill in at your position. Give is the scouting report on some of these guys that are returning at the cornerback position for Iowa?
JJ: It’s tough to say because they’re all really good. They’re all very talented guys and they all work really hard and they’re all smart. It’s kind of up in the air for who is going to start next year but all of them can play and all of them are really good. I’ve played with them. And the freshmen that are coming in are also going to be really good. So, hopefully those guys can go in and just try to be their own player, not imitate me but just play to the best of their abilities.
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Q. From the time you got to Iowa up until now, what area of your game was developed the most?
JJ: I think just getting reps on the field. In order to develop, you have to get reps. My freshman year, I didn’t have too many reps. I played a little bit on third downs, same with my sophomore year. As I started progressing and getting reps through the spring ball and camp, I really started to get comfortable and just have a knack for what the game was like. Throughout the whole season, just building and building the reps, I really started to feel comfortable and I was able to play confident and play fast.
Q. James Daniels also announced (Friday) that he was coming out. Did you know he was going to do that and did you guys talk about this process as it was going on?
JJ: I wasn’t completely sure if James was coming out. It was a kind of a decision where I didn’t want to bother him too much. But we definitely did talk about it, what our grades were and if we thought it was right to come out. We both made the decision to come out and I think we’re pretty happy with that and I think we’re just ready to get to work.
Q. For an NFL team, what type of teammate are they getting in Josey Jewell?
JJ: A great teammate and a great player. Josey really is a great guy on and off the field. He’s really a great example for what a leader is. Just me coming up in my career, Josey was a guy I looked up to and tried to model my work ethic behind because he does everything right. He’s going to give his all every time he’s out there.
Q. You play a position out on an island where receivers like to talk trash. You don’t get caught up in that. Is that just natural for you and does it help you focus on what you need to do?
JJ: It’s not just about playing in the game it’s about playing in your own game. So, there’s no talking. It doesn’t affect me, really. I’m just going to play my game and stay focused on my assignments. Their talking doesn’t faze me.
Q. What was it like going to the College Football Awards show in Orlando last month and being around some of the best college football players in the country?
JJ: It was a great experience just to be around those players and meet them and kind of be on the same pedestal as everybody was. It was a really cool experience and I made a lot of friends out there. I think everybody was really just genuine.
Q. Who was the toughest receiver you went against this year?
JJ: I think the guy from Minnesota, No. 6 (Tyler Johnson), he was a really good receiver, and probably (Hakeem) Butler from Iowa State.