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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: James Gillespie, WR, Widener University

Widener University wide receiver James Gillespie
Widener University wide receiver James Gillespie recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot. (Photo courtesy of Widener University)
  • Name: James Gillespie
  • Position: WR
  • College: Widener University
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 205
  • Twitter: 11_jamesg
  • Instagram: jamesg1121

What makes you a top prospect at your position  in the 2022 NFL Draft? 

I believe my football IQ makes me a great prospect. My ability to dissect film, break down coverages, and react on the field makes me a great option for any team. I treat football, even now, like it’s a business. I thoroughly prepare for opponents and constantly watch film, even critiquing my own play and figuring out ways to take my game to the next level.

At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?

I started playing football at a young age. Maybe 5 or 6. It wasn’t till I reached high school that I realized how much I loved it and wanted to pursue it in college and possibly even professionally. 

What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?

They should know that I consistently work hard on a daily basis. The type of guy who shows up first and leaves last. I consider myself as a leader. A guy who leads by example. I think my best attribute is that. I will work hard on the field, in the film room, and in the weight room and make sure to bring guys along and have them follow my example. My work habits translate on the field and in the locker room. 

If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be? 

I would donate to Feeding America. I am blessed enough to wake up everyday and have a source of food and drink but others are not so lucky. It kills me to see people don’t get the same luxuries we do because they are in an impoverished area.  

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

The best advice I had ever received along the lines of the game of football is “next play mentality”. Being a receiver this means everything. There will be plays where mistakes are made. Balls will be dropped, routes will be wrong, etc. If you dwell on those mistakes you will just continue to make more. If you accept those mistakes and embrace the next opportunity you can learn to control your emotions and stay calm and focused in such a chaotic game. This can even relate in everyday life. There will be days when you feel like you took a step backwards or things didn’t go your way. If you dwell on them you will be miserable and that can pile up. If you look to attack the next opportunity head on you can make everyday feel like a success. 

Who was your childhood hero? 

My childhood hero is my father. My dad was an athlete his whole life and taught me and my siblings everything. He has spent the last 30 years working in the Philadelphia Police Department. My parents would put us through sports and then sacrifice so much to make sure we would get to games and practices. Growing up, my dad played for the Philadelphia Blue Flame which was the local police team. Me and my brother, Collin, would go to practices and games and hang around the team as water boys so we were exposed to that environment early on. 

Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school? 

We have so much talent this year. Talent that has been overlooked because of our team’s recent seasons. One guy we have on the defensive side of the ball is Colin Murt. In 2019, he was a freshman who got substantial time as our starting middle linebacker. We attended the same high school so I see where his pride for winning comes from. He is a great asset to our defense and team as a whole. Guy is a leader on and off the field. 

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

My biggest pet peeve is squandering opportunity. I hate not performing to the best of my ability so much that it drives me to outperform my expectation for the next chance I am given. 

Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome? 

In 2018, I had broken my collarbone in week 4 of the season. Being ruled out for the remainder of the year was devastating to hear, especially with the year I was having. After surgery I had people tell me to think about hanging up the cleats for good and focus on life after football but I wanted to finish what I started years ago. I came back in 2019 and was the MAC Player of the Year as well as an All American. Over coming that injury and stress that came along with it was one of my greatest accomplishments.

Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you?

Widener has always felt like home to me from the second I stepped on it’s beautiful campus. It is a small college feel with a great faculty and student life. Everyone makes you feel so welcome and the relationships I have built over my college years will be some I will have for the rest of my life. I have been blessed to call it home these past few years. 

What is your favorite snack food? 

I have to go with the cheddar blasted gold fish. That was my go to snack in college. 

What is the best part of football? 

Definitely the bond you create with your teammates. Football brotherhood is unlike any other sport there is. I have gotten to know some of my best friends playing football at Archbishop Wood and at Widener University. It is something I will cherish forever. 

If you could sell yourself in one sentence what would you say? 

I am a confident player who is a student of the game willing to do whatever is needed for my team to win. 

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be? 

I would have to go with Adam Thielen. Adam has had a similar path coming up from a smaller college but is relentless when it comes to the game of football. It just seems like every year he gets better and better and that speaks volumes how he carries himself in the offseason. We have a similar build and our style of play is the same. He has a tremendous way of finding gaps in the defense and getting himself open. That is something I hold myself to a high standard on. 

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

Im a big golf guy. I think having Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Keopka at a dinner table together would be hilarious given their rivalry. Lets go with Dan Katz as the 3rd person. Fell like he’d instigate. 

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 [email protected]

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