Born in Brooklyn New York, Jamaal Westerman was signed to by The New York Jets in 2009 as undrafted free agent. The 6ft 3" 265lb OLB played college football at Rutgers. During his time at Rutgers he was named in all Big East team 2006/08 and finished with 26 sacks (3rd in Rutgers school history). He made his debut for the Jets on September 13th 2009 against the Houston Texans during which recorded his first NFL sack.
I caught up with Jamaal during the off season and asked him about college, Jets and his involvement with Ashley Lauren Foundation.
You played your college football at Rutgers, whats your favourite memory/moment from that time?
Definitely the Louisville game of 06. We were both undefeated at the time. It was a close game and our crowd was going crazy. It was the loudest I've ever heard a game at Rutgers. I was on the field for the last play. After we sacked their QB our crowd rushed the field. It was amazing. Everyone was screaming and so happy. I'll never forget that feeling.
You received offers from Boise State and Michigan Central as well as Rutgers, what swayed your decision to attend Rutgers?
The biggest reason I went to Rutgers was the players on the team. I felt like there was a good mix of guys on the team. Half the players were from Florida and the other half were from NJ. I got along good with the players I met on my visit. Also I wanted to be a part of something new. I felt that with coach Schiano and his vision, Rutgers was going in the right direction.
Having played Linebacker during high school, Defensive End during your College days, and now back to Linebacker with the Jets, whats your preferred role?
With Rex Ryan's defense playing OLB allows you to be versatile. This defense is made for guys that can think and are able to adapt to different positions.
Did going undrafted phase you in anyway?
It did not phase me. I Knew that I was good enough to play in the NFL and I just needed a chance. I knew it was not going to be easy but it was a dream I wanted.
What advice would you give to anyone entering this years draft?
No matter what happens drafted or undrafted you still have to go into camp and win a job.
Rex Ryan bought you to the Jets, what's impressed you the most about Rex?
Rex really knows how to get the most out of his players. He is confident in his team and staff, and believes that if we are prepared and play our best we can beat any other teams best. His confidence in us makes us want to prepare harder and player better. It always good to have a coach that always has his players backs.
Best and worst moment on the field for you personally during this past season?
Best moment had to be the game against the Pats. I had 2 sacks on Brady. When we played the redskins I played a good game, unlike the game against the Pats we won. The worst moment has to be the Miami game at the end of the season. After we lost that game, we were out of the playoffs I didn't want to believe it. My first 2 years we made it to the playoffs and went on a nice run. This year felt like it ended abruptly.
What grade would you give yourself for your performances this past year?
I played well but I'm always looking to improve. I want to continue to Improve all aspects of my game.
What are your goals for the 2012 season?
PLAYOFFS. What ever it takes to get in the playoffs. The last 2 Superbowl champs got in and went on a run all the way to the Super Bowl. I am excited to get started with the off season program. I know it will help me take my game to the next level.
What's been the hardest part for you, after the teams 8-8 season?
Just not being in it. Sitting at home watching all the teams compete in the playoffs.
Who's the unsung hero of the Jets organisation?
We have so many people in our facility that makes life a bit easier for us as players. But the staff in the training room are second to none. They might not get all the credit but they do a great job getting our bodies prepared to play every Sunday. Even if that's staying all night doing treatment or bringing in a specialist, nothing is lacking in their preparation.
Tell us some more about your involvement with the Ashley Lauren Foundation?
I was told about the Ashley Lauren Foundation by a friend of mine. I was looking for a way to help children that were in need. After hearing her story and seeing what they have done. They've help many children and their families that face pediatric cancer I wanted to find a way to get involved. I was excited about the partnering with them for my first ever golf classic on May 14th 2012. I think it's going to be a fun way to give back and help aid in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Your plans for the off season?
I'm going to take some time off to visit family and friends. Not sure where that's going to the be...Canada, Florida, who knows. After that back to work, with mini weekend vacations sprinkled in.
Everyone wants a famous person/celebrity to follow them on twitter, who's your desired follow? (Marcus Dixon went for Zoe Saldana)
That's a tough one, President Obama would be my desired follow.
I ask this question to everyone, few have dared to give names... Who's the worst dressed amongst the Jets squad?
I'm not touching that one. Everyone has their own style. Maybe I need to try on some cowboy boots.
A huge thank you to Jamaal for taking the time to take part in the interview, he was absolute gentleman throughout the process. Wishing you a Happy Birthday (Feb 21st) and all the best for the upcoming 2012 season.
You can follow Jamaal via Twitter @Jwesterman55 and like his Facebook page You can also check out his website www.jwesterman.com . For more information on the golf classic mentioned by Jamaal and his work with the Ashley Lauren Foundation visit the following websites http://ashleylaurenfoundation.org/ and http://lunarsportsgroup.com.s90845.gridserver.com/jamaal-westerman-golf-classic/