New York Jets First Round Picks Introductory Press Conference, 4.29
[please click photo for link to the video]
Brian Costello, New York Post: What is this like having three people? You’re kind of in the same boat here, usually if you get drafted by a team, there’s only one first round pick. But the three of you kind of now get to go through this together and go through the whole experience together.
Sauce Gardner: I would say it’s a blessing. We have pretty good relationships, so I feel like it was all God’s plan for all three of us to be on the same team.
Garrett Wilson: Like what he said, coming in and having two other dudes doing the same thing as you, it takes some of the pressure off, for real. Like he said, it’s a blessing.
Jermaine Johnson II: Like both of the guys said, it’s a blessing. I know I’m speaking for all three of us when I say there’s a lot of hard work put into it and our support systems did a lot behind closed doors. For us to be rewarded in this kind of way is pretty awesome.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: It’s been a while, the same thing for all three of you guys, it’s been a while since the Jets have made the playoffs, been a while since this team, those around the league considered good. So, how much do you guys embrace the opportunity to kind of change the culture and be part of the turnaround?
JJ: I’m here to give the Jets everything I have. That’s definitely on the list. If that comes with me giving everything I got and these guys giving everything they’ve got, we’ll gladly embrace that.
SG: I agree with what he said. We come here to be the best teammates we can be and sacrifice whatever it takes so we can win and turn our program around. No matter what it takes, we’re going to do whatever it takes.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: For whoever wants to answer, can you describe what your day has been like today? Did you guys all travel together to get here and how did you get here and what it’s been like since you’ve been here?
JJ: We shot over here directly after the draft around 10:30 p.m., Vegas time. We all flew over here on the PJ and we landed, we got a little time for rest and then we headed over here. We were greeted with open arms and a ton of energy, ton of excitement. We know we’re loved here, and we’re wanted, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of this organization.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Jermaine, can you talk about your past? It’s pretty unique and how much perseverance that took, you got to want that. What were some of the most difficult periods of that path?
JJ: For sure. You see the transfers and everything. It wasn’t a clean cut, cookie cutter way to get here, but I wouldn’t want it any other way because it truly created the man that’s seated in front of you. I embrace it all. That is the real blessing. People talk about blessings being materialistic things, the real blessing is the journey for me and who I ended up becoming out of that. I couldn’t be more excited to go on the path that I went on.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Was there a particular low point where you weren’t sure where it was going to end up and whether it was Kansas or wherever it may have been?
JJ: There was, there was ups and downs. I feel like some people expect me to say junior college, but that went according to plan. I had a good time there. I ended up leaving, I guess it would be that point of Georgia when it kind of wasn’t going how I expected it to, but then again, if I didn’t go through that adversity and tribulations like that, I wouldn’t be the man sitting here in front of you, or the player.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What did it mean to you to get a call from the Jets?
JJ: It meant everything. This was my first pick and I know how these guys feel about me in the building and to hear they were trying to trade for me since pick 15 all the way until obviously 26, it means the world. I know I’m wanted, and I’m loved. Everyone makes me feel that way. I’m excited. It makes it that much easier to have me give everything I can to this organization.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: When you look all the way back to Independence, was your eye on the NFL at that point or were you still kind of in the middle of it? What was your mindset when you were there?
JJ: Yeah, 100%. Nobody in my family has really made it to this point. I’m a first-generation college grad, so I’m kind of trailblazing. I was aiming as high as I could from as young as I could, so to be able to sit here and do that, that’s just a testament to my family and what they sacrificed for me to be here. I’m just trying to do this all for them.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Garrett, you obviously are now kind of part of the top three receivers with Corey Davis and Elijah Moore. Specifically with Elijah, I was wondering if you happened to have any contact with him over the last 24 hours or so and just if you know anything about him and what kind of a duo you two could form?
GW: He was in the training room getting some work, so I saw him walking through today and I got to chop it up for a short amount of time, say what’s up, just talk about how excited we were to get to work and when we’re going to start working out, get on the same page. We actually had the same trainer for our combine, our different experiences. So, he was back down there this past offseason, got to see him down there. He’s a great dude, great player. It’s special seeing him get in and out of his breaks. As a duo, I’m excited to bring what I do to the table and learn from guys like him and Corey Davis, I’m really excited.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Have you heard or seen Zach Wilson, or have you talked to him?
GW: We haven’t gotten in contact yet, but I’m sure that’s coming soon. As soon as we gain contact, we’re trying to figure out how we can get work in, build up some chemistry like I said.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: What are your impressions of him and what do you think it’ll be like to play with him and what do you like about his game that kind of might fit your game?
GW: He’s got a lot of talent. I remember watching his pro day last year. I mean he displayed his arm, it was just special to watch. Being a receiver that likes to stretch the field and make plays, I feel like he can put it anywhere on the field. That’s what you want in your quarterback. I hear about the type of person he is as well, I know he has what it takes to be great, for sure.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: During the pre-draft process, you’re obviously going to hear a lot of player comparisons to guys you resemble who are currently in the NFL. Was there one that you heard that you particularly like that you kind of say, “Yeah, I do kind of model my game after him?”
GW: I’ve always kind of modeled my game after Stevie Johnson. He played with the Bills back in the day and he kind of had a basketball background, he was elusive, and I like the way he played the game. There’s so many good receivers in the league, you try to take something from all their games. Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, they all got different things that they bring to the table. Being a young dude that wants to be as good as I can be, I’m trying to take something from all their games, for sure.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Stevie Johnson is an interesting name to throw out there. Is there a connection there between the two of you?
GW: No, I just like Stevie Johnson for real. He has that basketball background, and you can tell when he’s playing. That’s the draw there.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: I have a question for Sauce. I mean you’ve been asked about this a ton about not giving up a touchdown in three years in college. Can you describe, I mean who would you say is the best receiver you faced? And also, you must’ve been beat at some point with some long passes, or no? There must’ve been something?
SG: Yeah, I’ve gotten beaten before. Nobody is perfect. The best receivers I’ve guarded are probably Jameson Williams, Calvin Austin, I remember I guarded Garrett in like the fourth quarter my freshman year in college. So, yeah, those are probably the best receivers I’ve went up against. It’s just a tribute to putting the work in, the unseen work, required hours. Just making sure I practice to be consistent because I know nobody is perfect and that’s just what came with it.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Sauce, Cincinnati had some good records before, but you guys elevated it last year to a different level making the playoff. Do you see any parallels here to try to lift this program up?
SG: Most definitely. I feel like that’s what makes this so special for me to be able to be here. I feel like I know what it takes, so I’m willing to, like I said, sacrifice whatever it takes so that way we can get the ball rolling.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You mentioned (Darrelle) Revis yesterday, that you watched him a lot, was there any other corners that you watched or patterned yourself after?
SG: Yeah, I would say Jalen Ramsey, Darius Slay. Like you said, Revis. Those are the main guys.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: This is for Sauce and Garrett. How familiar are you with Jermaine’s path, with transfers and community college and all that kind of stuff? And what do you think that says about him to be sitting here at this table with you guys?
SG: I feel like that’s what makes me like him even more. Knowing he’s been through so much and he just kept going. I used to watch the show on Netflix, what is it, Last Chance U? I remember I saw him, then I heard he was at Georgia and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, the guy that’s from Last Chance U he’s at Georgia now.’ Then, for me to be able to play with him, I feel like that’s what makes it so special because a lot of people that have been through that, they would’ve been giving up. I feel like he’s just blessed and he’s very strong, just keeps going.
GW: Honestly, I was learning as he was telling you all. That says a lot about how he approaches his work, he knows his worth. He’ll be a great player. You don’t get overshadowed, that doesn’t happen. He always rose to the top of the team and that says a lot about him and how he goes about his business.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Sauce, what was the draft like for you? Where you hear your name called at number four and then these two guys follow very shortly thereafter then ran a little bit later.
SG: I heard my name called, it was like I was in a rollercoaster, my heart dropped. I knew this was the place I wanted to be, I felt like it was part of God’s plan. Then I was doing the media and everything like that, then I saw Garrett walk in doing media with a Jets hat and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, this is going to be crazy.’ Then, I’m on the phone with Coach (Tony) Oden and he tells me, “Yeah, we just traded up. We got Maine (Jermaine Johnson II).” I’m like, ‘Jermaine Johnson?’ He’s like, “Yeah,” so I’m like ‘Oh yeah, this team is going to be real special.’
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: For all you guys, kind of off of that, what you were saying Sauce, the three of you guys are going to be linked and you kind of talked about this earlier, you’re going to be linked from here on out. A lot of fans and he franchise itself think this could be a pivotal moment for the team. Do you kind of look at that as how special this is for you guys that you guys are looked at as being those type of players?
JJ: Yeah, that’s part of it. We come from the limelight, it ain’t nothing new to us. We’ve been leaned on before as those guys on the team. I think we’re going to attack it. And, again, we’re not going to do anything else but be ourselves and the best teammates we can be. What comes of that it’s going to come of it. I’m extremely excited because not only what these guys can do on the field but the men they are off the field. That’s important to this culture and to this organization. Me, myself, I’m just excited to be here and to pour everything I can into it.
DJ Bien-Aime. New York Daily News: Garrett, for you, you got drafted and Chris (Olave) got drafted right after you. How dope was that experience for you?
GW: It was crazy. All three of me, Jamo (Jameson Williams) and Chris were in the same room at one point. To hear my name and my dream coming true and we talked about this stuff every day. To know that their dreams are coming true and their going to different cities, it was just a special moment. I’m getting hugs with them after. Their dreams coming true and mine’s coming true. It’s a great day, that day right there changes lives. It’s a special moment and it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, for sure.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Sauce and Garrett, what do you think the training camp battles are going to be like between you guys?
SG: I would say real competitive. At the end of the day, we’ve got the same goal, we want to win, but we’re going to make sure we battle. Iron sharpens iron, we’re going to keep making everybody better.
GW: Just like what Sauce said, he’s going to push me to be my best and I’m going to try to push him to best his best. That’s where greatness comes from and that’s what we’re going to try to bring out of each other, for sure.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Jermaine, can you talk a little bit about the whole Last Chance U experience? What was that like and you got some notoriety out of that part, how did it all come about?
JJ: I didn’t know it was going to be at Independence when I had chose to go there. My head coach, Jason Brown, he kind of surprised us with it or what not. A lot of people don’t know, I was supposed to have a big role on that show and the director kept asking me to be a feature guy, but I wasn’t really interested in it. I want to keep the main thing the main thing and that’s playing football. My goals were very clear to me and I wasn’t really super interested in being an actor or anything like that. I was interested in being the best teammate I can be and I’ve been like that. I’m a family man and my family is the most important thing to me and the Jets now, I’m part of that family. I’m a part of their family. These guys are what’s most important to me now. It just kind of built who I am and I’m thankful for that.
(follow up) So you resisted it a little bit? You resisted the notoriety a little bit?
JJ: Yeah, I don’t need none of that kind of stuff, I don’t need it. I put the work in. What matters to me when we’re winning those games with my brothers that we won. We did make some history there my first year, that’s what I remember. I still haven’t even watched the show to be quite honest.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Sauce, coming out of Detroit as a three-start recruit, what was your role like? Obviously, you were a little overlooked, I mean three stars is good, but a lot of five stars out there. How did you get to this point coming out as kind of an under the radar guy?
SG: I would say just keeping a strong relationship with God, trusting the process. Like I’ve been saying, I’ve always been at the bottom of the barrel. When I got in High School, I was like 5’8”, 130 and I came in playing receiver, that’s why Chad Johnson is like my favorite player of all time. Then I just got thrown into the fire versus our rival, made the most of that at cornerback and I wasn’t even practicing playing cornerback. Same thing when I got to college, being the fourth corner on the depth chart, 6’0, 150 pounds, getting thrown into the fire versus our rival, getting a pick six and then being able to get a starting role as a true freshman. I feel like that’s just me keeping a strong relationship with God, that’s the main reason why I’m in the position that I’m in because He’ll present me with an opportunity and I always make the most out of it.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Sauce, is it kind of weird going from that to now being regarded as maybe the top corner in the draft by a lot of people? And how do you kind of deal with that and like not change what got you to this point?
SG: I don’t think it’s weird because through it all, I always put a lot of work in, so I always stayed true to myself and knew I’m the best. At the same time, you can’t forget what all you went through, so that keeps me going, all the intrinsic motivation and just knowing my mom was proud of me. That’s the main thing that keeps me going.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: With the wide receiver room at Ohio State, Garrett, and you touched this before three guys in a row who were in that room, Garrett Wilson, yourself obviously, Chris Olave and then Jameson Williams. That’s amazing to some people. Can you talk about the wide receiver culture at Ohio State and what Coach (Brian) Hartline teaches you guys and how you stay patient, because sometimes it was hard to get on the field?
GW: Main thing Coach Hartline is preaching there is how to train like a pro, take care of your body like a pro, approach media like a pro, so all those things, when he’s teaching that, he’s not going to coddle you. The one’s that don’t decide to take that approach to the way you go about your business, you kind of just go by the wayside. And the one’s that do, you see them be successful in our room. Every year, we’ve got guys coming in pushing the standard up. This past year it was Marvin Harrison, Jr. and then Jaxon (Smith-Njigba) the year before that. It gets better every year. Coach Hartline has something really special going on there, it’s just now getting started, They’ve got some dudes over there, for sure.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Are you guys Wide Receiver U now?
GW: I ain’t going to fake it, yeah, we’re Wide Receiver U. I think so.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Sauce, the video is going viral. I was wondering if your ears are still ringing from Robert (Saleh) screaming at the phone at you after the draft pick?
SG: Just a little bit, not too much. He’s from Detroit, so I feel like we clicked instantly, and I feel like that’s the reaction I was expecting, being from Detroit. He was just real excited.
Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Sauce, this is the Big Apple, so how do you feel about people calling you “Apple Sauce” right now?
SG: The main thing is the main thing. I came here just to be the best teammate I can be. Focus on football. I’m not going to focus on that too much. I just want to be the best teammate I can be. Like I said, do whatever it takes so that way we can turn the organization around.
How do you see your fit in this defense? Robert’s history has a lot of zone, but I think they played more man last year. How do you feel like you fit?
SG: I fit great. However they want to use me, I’m willing to be versatile, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. Like I said, they want to play zone, they want to play man, they want to blitz me, they want to put me at linebacker, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes, however they want to use me.