DCT’s Exclusive Interview with Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan

While the Cowboys are pretty set at receiver in 2011, they could surely benefit from acquiring a talented slot receiver for the future.  Roy Williams, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant are all suited to play outside, and when defenses take away Jason Witten over the middle, the ‘Boys are frequently left without a reliable Wes Welker-esque target on 3rd and short to medium.

With so much money tied up in the receivers already, however, the Cowboys won’t place a high priority on securing another playmaker at the position during the draft.  That makes Troy’s Jerrell Jernigan, whose recent 4.32 40-yard dash at his Pro Day figures to vault him into the second or third-round, a somewhat unlikely prospect for Dallas.

Crazy things can happen come draft day, however, and if for some reason Jernigan would slide, his quickness over the middle and ability to convert third-downs could make him an option for the ‘Boys.  If the team places an emphasis on securing a top-notch return man, Jernigan’s value could soar for Dallas.

DCT correspondent Justin Shoemaker recently spoke with Jerrel about his draft prep and NFL idols, among other things.

Q: How is your draft prep going?  What have you been doing since the Combine?

A: It’s going well.  I recently took a brief break for spring break, and it was much-needed.  I have been training and doing some private workouts, including with Atlanta.  I also have a workout scheduled with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and New England.

I also just signed a deal with Adidas, so I’ve had photo shoots and other things like that.  It’s very hectic, but I’m enjoying it.

Q:  What sort of things did you do for Atlanta?

A: They had me catch balls from the Jugs machine and do some other punt return drills.

Q:  Were you satisfied with your Combine performance? Is it a relief now that it’s all over?

A: I was happy with my broad jump and vertical.  I also didn’t drop any balls in the receiver drills and I ran the deep routes well.  I got a lot of compliments on the deep catches, which is important for me.

Q:  Were you able to sleep the night before your on-field tests?  How nerve-racking was the experience?

A: I was nervous, but I had a lot of former teammates call to relax me.  The entire Combine was very business-like.  They break up your schedule and try to throw you off from your normal workouts.  One day he had to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to go weigh in.

Q:  What were your Combine interviews like? What was the strangest question you were asked?

A: I’ve heard of a lot of strange questions, but for me they were pretty basic.  I thought I prepared well and did a nice job with the interviews.  Nothing was too crazy or off the wall.

Q:  Were you happy with your 4.32 40-yard dash at your Pro Day?

A: Yes, I was very happy and excited about that.  I thought it represented my true speed.

Q:  Do you know where you’ll be watching the draft?

A: In my hometown–probably at my Grandma’s house.

Q:  How would you feel about being a Cowboy?  Have they contacted you at all?

A: I would love to be a Cowboy since they have a great Troy player already in DeMarcus Ware.

Q:  Do you have a good relationship with DeMarcus?

A: Yes, sir.  DeMarcus has visited Troy several times and we’ve talked a lot and become friends.

Q:  Which NFL team did you root for while growing up in Alabama?

A: Atlanta was the closest, so I grew up a Falcons fan.

Q: Who were some of your favorite NFL players as a kid?

A: Michael Vick, L.T., Randy Moss, and Peyton Manning.   Michael Vick was always number one, though, because of what he brings to football.  I’m still a Michael Vick fan now, even with him in Philly.

Q:  In addition to Troy, who else recruited you out of high school?

A: Well, my top two choices were Troy and Auburn.

Q:  What made you choose the smaller school?

A: Auburn was really high on me from the beginning, but they backed off just a little at the last minute.  Troy was really interested the entire time, and it just felt right, so I chose Troy.  I’m happy with that decision.

Q:  What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t playing football?  What was your major?

A: I majored in Criminal Justice. If I wasn’t playing football, I think I would be in a juvenile detention center working with kids, most likely.

Q:  Do you pay attention to the hundreds of mock drafts on the internet or draft analysis on ESPN or the NFL Network?

A: I try to not pay too much attention because it can drive you crazy, but it’s always on.  Even if I turn off the TV and go online, I can’t get away from people talking to me about the draft on Facebook and Twitter.

In most mock drafts, I see myself in the middle or late part of the second-round.  I’d be happy with that, but you never know.