We know that every NFL player is extremely talented. They wouldn't have made it this far if they weren't. But playing in the NFL is more than just physical talent. So to find out what drives them, focuses their energy and mind, and is important to them, I asked several Jaguars the following question: "Who was and is your biggest football influence?"
The answers were diverse and interesting.
Today we find out about former Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien, a second-year player from North Miami Beach, Florida.
Who was your biggest football influence growing up?
Cyprien: My favorite by far was Randy Moss growing up. I know he plays offense, I play defense, but Randy Moss -- I was definitely a fan of everything he did and how great he was as a receiver.
Who helped you become the player you are?
Cyprien: I always loved playing football. I used to just play on the street, throw with the guys, until I got introduced to little league football in my neighborhood. I always had the drive in myself to be good and just play well. But I think the turning point kind of had been high school where my coach -- Jeff Bertani, North Miami Beach Senior High -- he really pushed us to a level that I don't believe normal high school students are pushed to. With that standard I had for myself since high school, bringing it to college, it stood out and it was a difference. That same drive that I have now from high school got me drafted and I'm bringing it here now and just hoping it continues to make a difference.
How did he push you?
Cyprien: He was a leader for our whole team, and not only on the field but how we conducted ourselves in school. He connects with everybody off the field, even now. On the field, in my neighborhood where I'm from, my school was the first team pretty much for both players to go both ways. We went both ways and we trained to do so, so in the summers we did crazy conditioning that most people would just stop and give up on, but we felt like if you didn't do it then you couldn't be a Charger. This is what Chargers did so if you wanted to be one this is what you had to do. With that said we only had 32 players on our team every year.
Two-way players? Was North Miami Beach Senior High a small school?
Cyprien: My graduating class was 600. We were 6A and we only had 32 players. It’s either you stayed or you left. If you wanted to be a Charger, if you wanted to play for us, you had to play his way. That just made us closer as a team and we knew that's what it was. We pushed ourselves like that and we were always well-conditioned. Not only that, we competed. We weren't just going through the motions when we played both ways, so it was great.
Sounds like tough love.