Following a season in which Western Michigan saw four players either be drafted or sign with an NFL team shortly after the draft, BroncoBlitz.com interviewed the four and got their perspective on their new job as well as their time at WMU. First up is Drew Nowak, defensive tackle and 2011 MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Nowak signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after the NFL Draft and will battle for a roster spot this fall.
BroncoBlitz: Did you have any expectations on draft day, and how much of a relief was is to get the call from Jacksonville shortly after the draft?
Drew Nowak: I wasn't sure what was going to happen on the last day of the draft. All I could hope for was an opportunity to be on a team. I was talking to Jacksonville throughout the last two rounds before the draft was over, so I kind of knew that was going to be a great option for me. It was a huge relief to finally sign with them. I sat all day waiting and I was happy to have it all figured out at the end of it.
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BB: How much contact did you have with the Jaguars prior to draft day?
DN: I had talked to them a week before the draft twice and then the day of the draft.
BB: As a UDFA, you had a little more freedom to make a decision. What were the factors that led you to choose Jacksonville over some of your other suitors?
DN: I think Jacksonville is a great opportunity to come in and work to have a shot at making the team. Every place is tough no matter where anyone can pick, but I thought Jacksonville was the best fit.
BB: Now that rookie camp is in full swing, how do you feel and has the team given you any specific goals?
DN: It is definitely a different atmosphere in the NFL. This is the greatest opportunity in the world but it is earned and you work your tail off day in and day out. No specific goals have been given to me but obviously my goals are to be a part of the 53 man roster.
BB: Who has been the most fun to meet and play with?
DN: It was cool to meet Aaron Kampman and Jason Spitz, because I watched them play with the Packers and followed them a lot growing up.
BB: Do you feel like you have something to prove after winning MAC Defensive Player of the Year but going undrafted?
DN: I just want to prove to myself that I can do it. It doesn't matter to me that I went undrafted. I just want to do it for me.
BB: What has been the biggest transition from college football into the beginnings of an NFL career?
DN: The tempo of practice is very high paced. If you're not ready, you're going to get blown by and you'll never get a chance to make it. Also, the heat down here in Jacksonville is pretty high. That is definitely a big change for me.
BB: What do you feel you need to get done in the offseason in order to get a roster spot for 2012?
DN: I just need to continue to learn the playbook, give 100% every chance I get and improve every day. Each day I will become more comfortable, but applying that on the field will greatly help my chances.
BB: Western Michigan has some history of sending defensive linemen to the next level. How do you feel the program prepared you for the NFL?
DN: Well I think our high tempo practices have helped greatly. We ran a fast paced practice at Western and it's the same way here but faster.
BB: How ready is the defensive line at WMU to deal with your absence and have a productive 2012 season?
DN: Well, I think with the experience of Freddie [Bishop] and Travonte [Boles] it will help them out this offseason in maturing the young guys and helping those kids learn the plays. The tough thing for the young guys is the expectations of full speed all the time. Thats the only way you can have a successful defensive line, and team, is going one speed and that is full speed.
Thanks go to Drew Nowak for his time.