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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: JR Pace, S, Northwestern University

JR Pace Northwestern 2021 NFL Draft
JR Pace was a versatile playmaker and team captain for Northwestern’s defense. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: JR Pace
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 205 lbs
  • Position: S
  • College: Northwestern University
  • Twitter: @jrpace9
  • Instagram: jrpace5

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
My major is Communication with a minor in Business. I was named to the All-Academic Big Ten twice. I had an internship with Paradigm Talent Agency. They deal with the live touring agency. I assisted with managing their database.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
Leadership. I was a team captain for the 2020 season. I’ve very personable and a hard worker.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I plan on being an early starter and impact player. I have high goals and want to do it all. I want to come in and show that I can play and dominate at the professional level.

I think I’m a versatile safety. I can play post, play the box, fill gaps and cover TEs. I have the ability to move around playing free safety and the boundary. In our system I have equally played the free safety and strong safety position. Throughout my four years, I have played in 48 consecutive games with 35 starts. I have been very reliable and never missed a game. I have also been on special teams every single year.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
I had to cover Maryland WR DJ Moore as a freshman. He’s a super freak athlete that runs crisp routes. He’s also strong and physical. He’s built like a RB.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Two players come to mind. Montre Hardage was always a very disciplined player. Whether it was his diet or the work he put out in the field, he was very focused. He kept a very strict schedule. Greg Newsome is a freak of an athlete that absolutely dominated his pro day. He’s a fierce competitor and a dawg on the field.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
My biggest struggles occurred almost every offseason. I had shoulder surgeries that kept me out of offseason training. So, that meant that after I was healed up and finished with rehab that I had to earn the starting position each year. I knew that there was always someone vying for my spot, and I wasn’t going to give it up. I had to not lose faith and keep moving forward. Despite my offseason surgeries, I never missed a game during the season and was the starter for 3 years.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I played a lot of other sports growing up including lacrosse, track and basketball. I’d probably say basketball. I made varsity as a freshman in high school.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I am most proud of earning a scholarship, attending a very prestigious institution and not having my parents worry about playing for school. I’m also grateful for playing at the Big Ten Level and making it to the Conference Championship Game 2 times.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
My sophomore year, we were playing against Utah in the Holiday Bowl. It was the 4th quarter and we were up by 2 scores. Although, we still didn’t let up because the game wasn’t over yet. We didn’t want them to gain any momentum. We were in a prevent defense. They had a 3rd and long and tried to run a fence screen passing the ball to the underneath receiver. I came up and knocked the receiver out cold. That was definitely the most memorable moment in my career.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
My favorite athlete of all-time is Lebron James. Some of my favorite safeties include guys like Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams and Kevin Byard. I try to take bits of their game and add it to my own.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
My favorite artist is Lil Baby. I like listening to his song called “On Me” before games.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Frosted Flakes Cereal

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite TV show is “Breaking Bad”. My favorite actor is Will Smith. My favorite movie is “Paid in Full”.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I really like music and the industry. I like R&B and Soul. I can see myself as a performer.

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
I play because I’m a very competitive person. I like to exert my will on my opponent and dominate. I’ve been playing this game since I was 6 or 7 years old. My dad played in college and introduced me to the sport. I’ve been around the game my whole life. What also motivates me is proving all the people wrong that said I couldn’t make it. I want to put the doubters to rest.

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