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There are several former University of Pittsburgh football players that are spending their winter preparing for a future career in the NFL. The biggest is most certainly defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett.
Jarrett, a Pittsburgh native and a two-year starter for the Panthers, has been working out down in Tampa, Florida to prepare for Pitt’s senior day workouts. It’s a different animal than usual football workouts, as players such as the 335-pound Jarrett will perform drills such as the 40-yard dash that don’t often occur during regular game play.
But doing well in those drills is an important part of getting noticed by an NFL team, especially for a player like Jarrett that is expected to go in the latter portion of the draft or sign as an undrafted free agent. That’s why specialized training for those workouts has become the norm.
I caught up with Jarrett over the phone this week. He’s what Pitt’s big nose tackle had to say about working out in the Sunshine State and preparing for the NFL.
AS: How is your knee? I know you were a little banged up at the end of the season.
TJ: It feels good. Everything is ready to roll. As soon as the season was over, I took some time and let it heal, and it’s been ready to go since I’ve been down here in Tampa Bay. I’ve been training every day, multiple workouts a day sometimes, and I’m starting to feel really good. I’m getting stronger, getting faster with my 40 [yard dash] and all the techniques for the different workouts.
AS: How different is it than what you do to prepare for football?
TJ: The focus on what we’re doing right now isn’t to prepare for football. It’s to prepare for the different workouts like the 40-yard dash. For football, we would never practice that. There’s never a time as a defensive lineman that you’re going to focus on running a 40. So, I’m focusing on the “L” drill and the 40-yard dash. It’s a lot different. It’s all about technique and getting a good start with explosion and acceleration.
AS: Have you gotten any feedback about what kind of teams are looking at you and where you fit in NFL schemes?
TJ: My agent has said there’s a couple teams that are looking at me, preferably 3-4 teams or teams that like that zero technique. But if a 4-3 comes, I’ve done both. I like both. I feel like I can dominate at both spots, in a 4-3 or in a 3-4. Wherever I get picked up, I’ll be happy and thankful.
AS: Do you much think about the draft or the process beyond that?
TJ: I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t think about the draft and where I’m going to end up. Everybody’s thought process is like that. That’s why we go out and train so hard, so we can get drafted as high as possible. It all goes hand in hand. You put film out there for the coaches to see, but they also want to see how well you prepare for the drills. I feel like in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about it.
AS: Is it different being self-motivated as opposed to doing everything as part of a team?
TJ: My first couple workouts, I felt like I was a little homesick. I was missing my team. But that the same time, you have to understand that transition. In order for you to fully transition, that’s what you have to do. I’m growing and maturing to where I don’t need external motivation to be where I am. I have to perform at a level where I can do what I want to do and that’s why I have to hold myself accountable.