NFL Draft: Interview with Northern Michigan OT Jake Witt

Jake Witt wasn’t always a football player, but as he’s gearing up for the NFL Draft, he reflected on his journey and how one sport helped him excel in another.

Fortunately for Witt, this dual experience helps set him apart in this year’s draft. 

“The biggest factor for me that’ll separate me from other prospects is my frame.” Witt said. At 6’7, Witt explained that he “[tests] extremely well [in the] top 10% of my position in every drill that we do,” Because of his basketball background, his football skills show.

Witt played two years of football in high school, then played college basketball for one year, earning numerous accolades along the way. After transferring to Northern Michigan, he joined the football team after the second semester. 

“I played obviously through COVID, COVID cancelled an entire season and then we had two full seasons of play. It was a crazy journey up to this point,”

Witt elaborated on what it was like to play through the pandemic. 

“To be a college athlete, I mean, obviously my first spring ball practice that I was supposed to participate in COVID shut everything down. That was right at the start, we still thought we might be able to play that following fall but we didn’t. That entire next year was completely messed up,” 

By Fall 2021, it was difficult for the team to be in it mentally, but Witt alluded to leaning on each other for support.

“It was tough to stay mentally in it, at times, physically we were training all the time to get ready for it but mentally when all that preparation would lead to just another shutdown.” Witt continued. “In the end, it worked out and we were able to play thankfully but it was a wild ride through that whole thing.”

Now, a week and some change out from the NFL Draft, Witt is preparing for the biggest job interview of his life. Though it’s an exciting time of year for him and his family, his workout and preparation is no easy feat.

“It’s awesome, I would have never expected obviously starting with college basketball.”

Witt’s day in the life typically includes a workout in the morning, then lunch, then going to films in college. Something that’s helped him stay balanced throughout this work is to stay grounded.

“There is a lot of stress, there is a lot of excitement and that’s a big part is just coming back to center every day and taking in everything that you did to better yourself.” 

Now, having the opportunity to be one of the other young stars in the league, Witt looks forward to seeing what could happen next season if he gets that call.

“It’s super crazy to see, I mean, I look at some of the ages of these players and a ton of them are younger than I am right now,” Witt said. “It’s super awesome to have all these younger guys having success,”

Also giving props to some players who paved the way for him, Witt talked about a few guys – including a family friend – who inspired him in the game.

“I would say a huge role model and influence for me is actually a family friend of ours, Zac Seeler. He’s a defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins. He came from our conference, played at Fair State, got drafted, he was the first player drafted out of their school and got drafted by the Ravens, was there for two years, and has now been with the Dolphins for three,” Witt said.

He also talked about some fan-favorites growing up: “Then I would say J.J. Watt has always been a huge role model for me growing up and then on top of that Calvin Johnson is my favorite player of all time.”

Though Witt is excited to get the call from any team in need of his versatility, he talked about a particular team he enjoyed growing up.

“I was a Green Bay Packers fan growing up, we always had those rivalries with Lions fans and Vikings fans.” Witt said.

Witt never thought he’d be in this position, but thanks to the support and dual skillset in basketball and football, he’s excited for what the future in the NFL could hold. His biggest advice to younger players is simple: discipline and dedication.

“My biggest advice would be, everybody says it but it always comes down to discipline and dedication because like I spoke about earlier I had no idea this opportunity would be in front of me when I started playing football at Northern,” Witt said. “If you keep your motivation and your discipline, that will lead you to what you want,”

Check out Jake Witt’s full interview on the First & Jenn podcast.

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