Jan Jorgensen is waiting by his phone this weekend, hoping that he won’t have to rely on the Social Studies Education degree he received yesterday at BYU’s April Commencement, at least in the immediate future.
Jorgensen, who earned his degree this past December, says that he is hopeful that he will hear his name called in one of the later rounds of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
As a three-time All-MWC performer at defensive end and the career record holder in sacks and tackles for loss in the Mountain West Conference, Jan says that it was a bit unnerving on graduation day to have his future so up in the air. “It’s a little frightening not knowing, hoping to move on to the NFL or looking at getting a job in the real world. There’s a lot of pressure there all of the sudden.”
Most prognosticators see Jorgensen as a free agent prospect, but he feels that there’s a chance that one of the several teams that have shown interest may come calling on draft day. “I feel like my chances of being drafted are 50/50 right now”, Jorgensen says. ” There are a lot of teams that have called and shown interest, but you never really know what teams are thinking. They don’t like to show who they are really interested in.”
Many were surprised when the Helper, Utah native was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, held annually in Indianapolis to evaluate the top draft-eligible talent from the college game. “It surprised me too”, Jorgenson admits, “It was frustrating because I saw some guys get invited that I know I am as good as or better than. There were some offensive lineman invited that I played against and blew them up.”
Not being invited to the combine puts players at a disadvantage. But Jorgensen says that he has been able to showcase his talent for NFL scouts and coaches. “We had our Pro Day at BYU were I was able to do many of the same workouts as they do at the combine. I also got to play in the East-West Shrine game which helped me make up some ground.” And what kind of feedback has he received from teams? “They tell me that I am a solid all-around player, not spectacular at any one thing, but solid. I still need to continue to work on my game against both the run and the pass”
Another disadvantage for the “Janimal” is BYU’s 3-4 defense. A few teams in the NFL employ the 3-4, but most run 4-3 defensive alignments. “It’s a big disadvantage”, Jan admitted. “The way I played my position at BYU doesn’t really translate to the NFL. I wasn’t really able to show a lot of scouts that I can play the position the way that many of them want me to play it in the NFL.”
Many prospects feel that it’s better to not get drafted in the 6th or 7th rounds and sign as a free agent instead. Jorgensen though would prefer to get drafted even if it’s in the final round. “The nice thing about getting drafted is that you get a signing bonus,” Jorgensen says, “You have the knowledge that a team is interested enough to make an investment in you. As a free agent though, you do have the ability to look around and see where there’s the best fit. I’ll just have to see how everything works out.”
In Jan’s quest to make it into the “League”, he has been able to rely on advise from former players and friends who are currently playing in the NFL. Jorgensen keeps in touch with former Cougars David Nixon and Bryan Kehl. He has also been working out in the off season with former Cougar and Buffalo Bill Ryan Denny. “One of things they tell me is that I just need to make it into a camp, work hard and show what I can do.”
By late Saturday or early Sunday, Jorgensen’s wait will be over. By then he will have been drafted or signed a free agent contract. But what if by chance his football playing days are over? “I will go into teaching and coaching,” Joregensen replied. Here’s hoping to somebody missing out on having a great teacher and coach… at least for a while.