Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ path to the NFL was created by Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Martellus Bennett. All of those athletes played college basketball before converting to tight end in the NFL. Each former hardwood player thrived on the football field.
Seferian-Jenkins is not the second coming of Graham, nor does he profess to be, but he played on Washington's basketball team, which was the Pac-12 regular-season champion in 2011-12. He came off the bench that season before eventually focusing on football.
Most NFL draft experts believe Seferian-Jenkins is a first- or second-round pick. Seferian-Jenkins had 36 receptions for 450 yards and eight scores in 2013. He compiled 146 catches for 1,840 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons, and reportedly visited the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Seferian-Jenkins also spent time with Shutdown Corner during the pre-draft process:
Shutdown Corner: Has the draft process been everything you thought it would be?
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: It’s been really interesting. It’s really a process when they dig in deep and find out who you are, find out things about you. It’s really an interesting process because you get to fly around the country to multiple organizations and see what they’re about, and see if you fit with them. It’s really interesting because I’m all over the country all of the time. It’s really cool.
SDC: Are you building up the rewards points with an airline?
ASJ: You know what? I should have, but it’s never too late. I’ll do that on my next trip.
SDC: What are teams trying to determine from their conversations with you?
ASJ: The common theme is them just wanting to get to know me as a person. They want to see how it fits with the guys compared to their locker room. That’s the biggest thing with them.
SDC: What led to your decision to pursue college football instead of basketball?
ASJ: I really have a love and passion for football. I enjoy basketball, but it’s not something I love. You have to let things go that are not for you.
SDC: How were you able to play Division I basketball and not love it?
ASJ: I just like playing the game. I enjoyed playing it with my friends. It’s like a video game. I enjoy playing it, but I don’t love video games. I just like playing them.
SDC: How do you feel about comparisons to Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham?
ASJ: I appreciate them. They’re very flattering, but at the end of the day, I got to still play football. I got to do what I have to do. Hopefully at the end of the day people will understand that I’m my own player, and I’m going to bring things to the game that people are definitely going to be impressed with, and I got a lot of room to grow. We’ll see. I really don’t personally care. That’s just something to talk about right now because there isn’t really much going on.
SDC: As you see the tight end position evolving, how excited are you about playing in the NFL?
ASJ: At the same time, you got to understand that Jimmy Graham and Ron Gronkowski have put in lot of hard work and dedication to their craft, and they’ve succeeded time and time again. That’s why they go to them. They have trust in them. Those guys are athletically superior to a lot of tight ends. The game is changing.
SDC: What can you say led to your statistical decline from 2012 to 2013?
ASJ: I didn’t play as well. It’s a simple as that. You can look at the stats, and it’s clear I didn’t have as good of a year. I’m excited to get back and play this upcoming year and get my stats up. But at the end of the day, my team was more successful. We went 9-4, best record in 20 years, and that’s the most important thing.
SDC: You had stress fracture surgery in your foot after the season. Did that injury contribute to the decline?
ASJ: It had nothing to do with anything. I didn’t even know I had it. They found it at the combine. They were doing an MRI and found it. It’s pretty weird.
SDC: How have you been feeling since the surgery?
ASJ: I’m good. I’m already healed up. My fracture is gone. I’m excited to get out there and start doing stuff when my name is called.
SDC: You have been very open and honest about the DUI you received in college. Are you tired of answering the question or is it an area you believe is necessary to address prior to the draft?
ASJ: Quite frankly, people are going to ask me that whenever they want to ask me to make a story. That could go on forever. Personally, I really don’t care. I don’t have any problems answering the question because it’s from the heart. If they want to ask the question, I don’t have any problem answering it because I’m not afraid to tell people my story, the adversity I overcame, and the poor choices that I made so other people don’t make those same poor decisions. It really does not bother me.
SDC: If you do not mind sharing, what is your story?
ASJ: Obviously, the DUI and not being in a good place and making a poor decision. How it affected me. How it affected my teammates. How it affected my family. How bad it could have been, and how lucky I was. Anyone that ever wants to hear it, I’m more than willing to help them out and have them hear me.
SDC: What would it mean to you to be the first tight end taken in this year’s draft?
ASJ: It would mean a lot to me. I’m a competitive guy. I want to be the first tight end take in this draft in May, but I also know the most important thing is what you do on the football field. Once you get into the NFL, it doesn’t matter what draft pick you are, what round you are, if you’re undrafted or not. It’s football time again. The draft, all of that doesn’t matter anymore.
SDC: What was your major in college?
ASJ: It was American Ethnic Studies.
SDC: What was your goal with that major?
ASJ: It’s a study of all ethnicities in America. I plan on getting a business degree with that. We’ll see how I can corner all markets with that so I can understand all people. It should definitely help me out when I go into business … You just got to learn about all different types of people. There’s a lot of people in this world, and it’s important to learn about them. Granted, everybody is different, but I think it’s real important to know all the people that you are around, and how they operate their history, and things like that. You know where they are coming from a little bit, and you don’t insult them, or take something for granted.
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