When athletes move from the college ranks to pros there are adjustments that the athletes need to make. Whether they learn new playing systems or techniques, players coming from college to the pros know that change is inevitable. For Jets sixth-round pick Jacob Bender, there’s one more adjustment that he has to make that his fellow draft picks who came from big programs don’t. The spotlight.
Bender, who played his college football at Nicholls State University, will have another task to accomplish while getting accustomed to the NFL. It will be to enjoy the rigors of playing in the NFL’s biggest market, the media frenzied New York City, the place he will be now be calling home, instead of a small Louisiana suburb.
“It’s a lot bigger than Thibodoux, Louisiana (where Nicholls State is located), it’s definitely a lot bigger than what I am used to,” Bender said. “But I think this is cool. This is cool place. I am excited and can’t wait to around and see the town.”
“I came out here a couple times and went to Times Square and did some other things,” added Bender who has been training in Stamford, Connecticut. “It’s definitely faced paced.”
All other Jets draft picks are used to playing in front of large crowds, in big rivalry and bowl games. Darrelle Revis, the 14th overall pick played for former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh, who plays their home game at Heinz Field. Second round pick David Harris comes from the college football haven of Michigan University, which plays in big games every week. Harris’ last game on the big stage was a disappointing Rose Bowl performance and the Jets’ seventh round selection Chansi Stuckey came from Clemson which plays in the emerging Atlantic Coast Conference. But Bender did not see playing football at Nicholls State is a disadvantage.
“I am just here to prove them wrong. It doesn’t matter where you went to school once you made it to NFL,” Bender said. “I know that I’m going to come in and I’m going to compete. I am going to make the most of the opportunity I have.”
Bender, 22, from Mayo, Maryland said the reason why he chose Nicholls State was because that was only offer he was shown.
“Nicholls State was actually the only offer that I received. Hofstra had initially given me an offer, but they had backed out because they said they were waiting on someone else,” Bender said. “I do feel like I have proven a little, but I still have a lot to prove. Just because I got picked doesn’t mean I made the team. I still have to come in and bust my butt.”
Bender will have some help getting adjusted to life in New York, the Jets system and life in the NFL. Bender will be joining second-year linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold on the offensive line. Bender will be moving to right side of the line after playing the left side at Nicholls State. Ferguson currently man’s the left tackle position for Gang Green. Bender has played the right side before, but only in All-Star games.
Joining Bender, Ferguson and Mangold on the offensive line will most likely be veteran Pete Kendall and Anthony Clement who got resigned in March.
Bender, 6-6, 315, was the 177th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Bender was the first player the Jets have ever drafted from Nicholls State. He played left tackle for Nicholls State, which ran the triple option offense. He was named Sports Network I-AA/FCS All-America third team in 2006. He played in the Magnolia Gridiron All-Star Game. He was named to the College Sporting News Fabulous 50 FSN All-Star Game. He was All-Southland Conference Selection in 2005 and 2006. In the 2005 season, Nicholls State set a school record in rushing yards in a single season. Also that same season he was named to the All-Louisana Second Team