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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Jelani Greene, WR, University of New Haven

Jelani Greene also known is “AJ” is a big time WR from the University of New Haven. I love this kid’s playmaking ability.
  • Name: Jelani Greene aka “AJ”
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 195 lbs
  • Position: Wide Receiver 
  • College: University of New Haven
  • Twitter: @aj_greene15

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

• I am from Selden, NY. It’s a much smaller town on Long Island that is filled with families with high school and college aged children; as well as their younger siblings. That environment allowed me to compete with my classmates in all aspects, while setting a positive example for the younger classes under me.

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

• All 3 of these could be interchangeable in their order of importance but I’ll put practice, then strength & conditioning, and then film study. Practice makes perfect and an athlete should always sharpen their weaknesses while polishing their strengths. Increasing your strength and conditioning will give you an edge of your opponent that may practice their craft as much as you do. Lastly, studying film is another way to get an edge of an opponent that may be as skilled and athletically gifted as you. When a defender is just as fast as you and can change direction just as quick as you, knowing that he false steps or tends to jam with a specific hand can be the difference between a catch and an incompletion.

What do you worry about, and why?

• I honestly worry that the mistake that I’ve made in my past will taint my future. My mistake, at the early age of its occurrence, was what I needed and exactly when I needed it to allow me to grow as a person and redefine my life. I was not focused enough on my goals at the time, and the placement of my mistake allowed me to refocus on what I wanted to make of myself.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

• Not qualifying for the national championship for track & field. At first I was upset and feeling sorry for myself, but then I reflected on my preparation. Transitioning from football season into the middle of track season, I was not prepared physically or technically to compete at the level. That’s just another testimony on how preseason work can determine postseason success.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

• My desire to learn. On the field and in the classroom, I  like to learn. I like to learn how to do new things because it’ll make me more versatile and valuable.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

• Casey Deandrade (University of New Hampshire c/o ’16)

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football? 

• I’d pursue my remaining eligibility in track & field  in grad school while studying sports psychology and working as a graduate coaching assistant for the football program. I would also be an aspiring author and entrepreneur.

Room, desk, and car – which do you clean first?

• Definitely my room. That’s where I start and end my day. A clean room allows for clear thinking, comfort, and will most likely lead to the cleaning of the other two. 

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

• One family member. Family is home and unconditional love. I would not be able to live with myself knowing that I picked strangers over my family.

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

• Spider-man. Not only do I love his athleticism and goofiness, but I love his origin story as well. He only enjoyed his powers for recreational usage before a personal experience inspired him to use them for a greater purpose. That is how I am with football; from recess to professional. 

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

• I was dismissed from the University of New Hampshire after poor social decisions off the field after my true freshman season and had to rebuild the credibility of my name at community college. I took 6 summer classes, 9 fall classes, and 2 winter classes, while leading my team in receiving, and graduating a 2 year college in only 7 months with a perfect 4.0 GPA. This experience allowed me to redefine my passion for the game of football, set my priorities, and grow as a person by sharpening my character.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

• My most embarrassing moment was being dismissed from the University of New Hampshire football team after displaying poor judgement and character.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

• It was a catch in the first round of the D2 playoffs. I had gotten slightly overthrown on a deep pass just beyond my fingertips the week before in our conference championship game and I regretted not diving for the catch. Also in that game, I sprained my MCL so I’ve been treating that all week and still ran with a little limp. It was 3rd& long, tied game heading into halftime, same play, and the same ball, only this time, I fully laid out parallel with the ground to make a 50 yard catch.

What song best describes your work ethic?

• Believer – Imagine Dragon

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level? 

• My quickness and ability to change direction allows me to create separation

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

• My mom’s father. I never met him but I would thank him for making my mother the person and provider that she is.

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it? 

• Greene Light

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL?

• Mohammed Sanu

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

• Respected. Without respect in a relationship, there isn’t one and at that point, it wouldn’t matter whether the person likes me or not.

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

• Chad Johnson. He was the first player who excited me and attracted me to the game. His passion, work and preparation was evident in every game and every practice. He was always an advocate against drinking and being out in the club (some of the most common things present in poor off-field decisions), yet his career was still tarnished.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

• I love to win. Loss is just a synonym of lesson. 

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

• My mom. She had a tough childhood and worked to separate herself from her peers growing up through success. She made sure that my childhood was easier than hers was and provided me with all the tools and opportunities to make sure that I can do the same thing for my family.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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