Playing a year at Hutchinson Community College
JF: "That's awesome man. Now, obviously you weren't super highly recruited coming out of high school, and you went on to spend a year at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where you were primarily a fullback. What was that year like for you, both from a personal growth standpoint and from a 'hey now you're playing a totally new position' standpoint?"
JP: "First of all, it kept me tough, because you got to come out diving and hit somebody. Run full speed and just ram them like a ram. From a learning standpoint, it taught me how a running back actually thinks about his cuts and how you got to be behind your blockers. I'm used to people being behind me so that just helped me learn even more with my knowledge of the offensive line. When I'm pulling or double-teaming, where [the running backs] are going to fit. Also, the calls, the personnel, the plays, the motions, and just discussing stuff like that. It's different from the offensive line. Learning all of that helped me."
JF: "Right, and you can see elements of that in your game now. I feel like you pride yourself on being able to pull and get out and block in space, and you see that in your days as a fullback. You can see that transition there, and it shines through to this day."
Moving back to the offensive line in Division II
JF: "Obviously some schools liked what they saw because you got an offer to play offensive line again at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne and you jumped at it. How did that whole process go for you? Did they want you playing offensive line? Was it something from your high school tape that they saw?"
JP: "Yeah, high school. They were like 'man you were a good offensive lineman.' They wanted to see if I still had it, I said 'I'll do anything you need me to do,' and I did it."
Transferring to Mercer
JF: "And it clearly worked out! After a decorated two-year career at Lenoir-Rhyne, you left to go to Mercer for your final season. I know you were able to reunite with your former coach, Drew Cronic, there, but how difficult of a decision was that for you?"
JP: "It was bittersweet. Lenoir-Rhyne was my home and leaving some of my teammates [was tough]. But you always have to better yourself. And then there was COVID and stuff, so I wanted to be closer to my family so they can come to games. Being closer to my family meant a lot to me, that was the main thing."