Two things can be said right off the bat about Jets DE Jake McDonough. He does his homework. And he takes inspiration wherever he finds it.
Both of those traits come together when the rookie free agent from Iowa State channels Mike DeVito just a little bit.
“Coming in here, I knew who wore No. 70 before I did,” McDonough told me this week. “I obviously checked into it. I know how Mike came in here as an undrafted rookie, just like me, and now he’s in Kansas City making a lot of money.
“For me, coming in as a free agent, Mike’s story inspired me. Maybe I can follow in his footsteps.”
The connection with DeVito was solidified during some video review in a defensive meeting after an OTA practice.
“I had made a play or something, and Rex said, ‘Attaboy, DeVito.’ “
Head coach Rex Ryan admitted to the flashback.
“This young man, I like him. He’s tough. He competes,” Ryan said recently. “You recognized the size, the length of the kid — he certainly looks the part.”
McDonough’s length is 6’5″. His weight, he wants any fan who checked out his ISU bio, is not 280, hasn’t been in a while, but is closer to 305-310. But that’s a good thing for how he’s being used these days.
“I was a noseguard in college. Now I’m a defensive end,” he said. “I’m playing a whole new position — and I’m loving it. Learning from Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson, of course] he’s a heck of a guy to learn from. Especially watching film of him and seeing how he does things inspires me to perfect my craft.”
McDonough did a fine job at his craft with the Cyclones. He didn’t miss a game his last three seasons, and after last season he was named Iowa State’s Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a first-teamer on the Big 12 coaches’ all-conference team.
Even more inspiration these days comes from DL coach Karl Dunbar, assisted by Jeff Weeks. Dunbar’s unit is starting to round into the kind of impact group he was known for when he coached with the Vikings.
“Karl’s the best D-line coach in the league, in my opinion,” Ryan said. “And I think you’re seeing all our linemen starting to take off under Karl’s tutelage.”
Needless to say, there won’t be a lot of loose spots on the 53-man roster come Sept. 8. But depending on how Quinton Coples is classified (DE or LB?) and where first-rounder Sheldon Richardson lines up, there could be a spot behind Wilkerson.
“If he doesn’t make the team,” said Ryan, “it’s not because of his work ethic or anything else. He’s a hard-playing kid.”
Tags: Jake McDonough, Jeff Weeks, Karl Dunbar, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan
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