A New Jersey native, Muhammad Wilkerson is coming home as a new member of the New York Jets. The Jets picked him with the 30th overall selection in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. The defensive lineman out of Temple spoke with Khalil Garriott of the NFL Players Association about his draft-day experience, how his basketball skills help him on the gridiron, the NFL's lockout and much more.
It was just a dream come true to get drafted into the NFL. I knew I had a lot of teams interested in me, and once that 30th pick came around, I knew that the Jets were going to call. I had close friends and family members with me -- about 100 people were there. On the other end of the phone was head coach Rex Ryan and I also spoke to Mike Tannenbaum, the general manager. They were asking if I was ready to be a Jet, if I was ready to come in and work hard every day, and help out the team as best as I can.
I'm just praying, like every other guy that's been drafted, that the lockout/labor situation will get settled. I just want to get out there and play football. Right now I'm just working out and training, and hopefully within a few weeks, the lockout is over with and everyone can play ball. It's a little disappointing. Hopefully, something will get settled and everybody can go meet their new teammates and we can get this thing rolling.
Now that I'm here in the NFL, it's a little messed up. I got drafted, and now I'm ready to play, but I can't. I just pray that everything gets settled quickly so I can meet my new teammates and start being a pro.
It's only sunk in a little bit that I'm going to be an NFL player. I'm just ready to get out there and play some football, meet the rest of my teammates and get things rolling.
I think it's going to be really exciting to play for Rex Ryan. I think I'm gonna have a lot of fun. I think it's a good fit for me, and I think that everything is going to be fine. The Jets' defense is really aggressive, and I play aggressive. Everybody plays for the brother beside them, and I want to run out there and make plays, so I feel I can fit in well.
I started playing basketball when I was about 10 years old. Basketball helped translate over to football; it helped with my footwork and being able to cut in different directions and change directions. When I have time, I try to play a few pickup games to break a nice sweat, do some conditioning and also have fun. I always played basketball growing up, and I still like playing with my friends and having fun. My high school won the Group 4 state championship my junior and senior years. I played power forward on those teams.
When people compare me to Trevor Pryce, it's just an honor to be compared to someone like that. He was a good player who contributed for many years in the NFL. I'm just gonna go out there and play my best.
-As told to the NFLPA's Khalil Garriott
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