SPORTS BABE OF THE DAY COLLEGE EDITION: 21 Questions with 2014 NFL Prospect Jeff Janis, @jrjanis on Twitter
A recent college graduate from Saginaw Valley State University, Jeff Janis is ready to take his talents to the next level. Jeff has not only made an impression on colleges throughout Michigan, but this wide receiver’s impressive numbers captured the attention of NFL scouts across the nation. Jeff was the only Division II football player to play in the Reese’s 2014 Senior Bowl and is now training for the 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Sunday, February 23. Breaking record after record during his collegiate career, make sure you look out for this new graduate because who knows how he will amaze us next!
1. What, or who, first influenced you to play football?
Once I was old enough to start playing football, something in me just said; “I want to play.” So starting in fourth grade, my mom drove me 20 minutes to practice, 5 days a week, and then drove me to the games on Saturdays.
2. How has Saginaw Valley State University helped you to grow as a football player?
Saginaw Valley was great for me! They were one of the only schools that believed in what I could potentially accomplish, coming out of high school. I gave the school everything I had, and I think the results showed on the field. The GLIAC is one of the best if not the best, division 2 conference in the nation. So to achieve at such a high level there, was a great accomplishment.
3. Can you describe how you felt when you realized you were the only DII football player, playing in the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl?
I was beyond honored to get to play at the Senior Bowl. I felt I had the responsibility to showcase to everyone that a DII player can not only compete at the DI level, but also be just as good or even better. I think it also helped being the only DII player there because all eyes were on me to see what I could do. Some may not like that, but I took it as an opportunity to be seen and get that one chance that I may need.
4. Did you ever imagine you would be training for the NFL combine?
After my junior year, I thought it may be possible to play at the next level, but I never thought it would take off into what it has become now. I would have never guessed I would be on the opposite side of the country, training with the best speed and strength coaches, and be surrounded by so many great players. It only happens once, so I am taking full advantage of every opportunity I have out here in San Diego.
5. What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
I think the saying I try to live by the most is; “Live each moment, like it may be your last.” This really kicked in for me after my father passed. That really made me realize that you cannot take any moment for granted, and to get the most you possibly can out of every day
6. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Ten years from now, hopefully I am still contributing to not only a football team, but whatever community it is I am living in as well. I would like to do something to help others overcome whatever obstacle it is in life they may be facing.
7. What player are you looking forward to playing against the most, if (when) you’re drafted this year?
I am looking forward to seeing Jeff Heath out on the field again someday. We are still great friends and it would bring back some great memories at SVSU that we had together.
8. If you could be a professional athlete in another sport, what sport would that be?
Although I am far from being good enough, I would love to be a professional golfer. Golf is another sport that I just love to play with family and friends.
9. Do you have any pregame rituals?
I don’t have any pregame rituals, besides going and running around a little bit and catching some balls. I found in college that I am pretty relaxed before games. I don’t think I play as well when I take the game too seriously.
10. What has been your biggest challenge during your collegiate career?
The biggest challenge I have faced was dealing with my dad passing away in 2010. At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to return to football or not. I took some time off and really thought hard about what my dad would want me to do. It was probably the best decision I had made coming back to play. The team was very caring and sympathetic to my situation, but getting back out on the field really made me feel like I was representing him and playing for him.
11. How important to you was it to finish your college degree?
Knowing the statistics about ex-NFL players, I knew it was going to be very important for me to get my degree before going to the next level. So I planned it out to where once football was over, I would just have to finish up that semester, and I would be graduated.
12. Is there a specific team you have always wanted to play for?
Growing up, I was always a Lions fan. It would be too great to play for them, and have a lot of family and friends able to come to the games.
13. Do you have any advice for other hopeful young men who want to play football past high school?
Although it is a lot of work to be a student-athlete, if done right, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. At first, it seems like you are going to be in college forever, but it is over before you know it. So take advantage of every opportunity given to you.
14. The big question everyone wants to know: are you single, dating, or locked down?
I have had the same girlfriend since about my junior year in high school. Hopefully soon, we will be getting married.
15. Is winning everything?
At the NFL level, yes winning is everything. But personally, I don’t think it is all about winning. I think it is about giving everything you have every day, and going to bed knowing you did so.
16. What is the thing you miss most about the Mitten right now?
Right now, I am missing the ice fishing. There definitely isn’t any place to do that in San Diego.
17. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
The first thing I would do is help others in my family who may need it. They had just as much to do with how I got to where I am today, as my decisions alone.
18. What was the coolest part about the Senior Bowl?
The best part of the senior bowl was being surrounded by the best players in the nation, and it didn’t matter what team they were from. It was great to get to know them, and here about all their stories from the schools they were from.
19. Has anyone asked for your autograph since you’ve graduated?
Yes, I signed more autographs than I can count at the senior bowl. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people actually knew me at the senior bowl, and called me out by name.
20. Who would you nominate to be the next Sports Babe of the Day Campus Edition?
The next Sports Babe of the Day Campus Edition should definitely be Jon Jennings
21. Finally, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as one of the best athletes to ever come through Saginaw Valley, and also want to be remembered as someone who remained humble and never forgot where they came from.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of humility and compassion Jeff Janis expresses every time I speak with him. Jeff allows his dedication and his performance on the field to do the talking for him, never asking for praises or rewards. I have no doubt that with the support of his family, friends, coaches, and his father’s grace, that Jeff will be able to accomplish all his goals and aspirations. Thank you for making my first interview a memorable one Jeff!