On the surface these three young men are worlds apart. Three of the Jets' first six draft picks – a ranching quarterback from Oregon, an eccentric linebacker from the South, and a soft-spoken human highlight reel from Ohio – came to the Big Apple with not many agreeable background traits. However, upon entering Weeb Ewbank Hall, one common yet intricate goal bonded these three budding athletes together – help the New York Jets celebrate on Sundays.
Kellen Clemens, the Jets' third selection, is the only son of John and Vicky's five children. Ever since he was young enough to hold a football and ride a horse, he spent the majority of his life doing both very well. When not on the gridiron, Clemens was on the family's historic 3,500-acre ranch in Burns, Oregon tending to hundreds of cows, baling hay and building fences. The 49th overall selection in this year's draft was just a blue-collar kid with country miles of talent and dreams, unknowing where his future lay. While the University of Oregon served as a valuable steppingstone, looking back at it now makes Eugene seem to be a small pond, and Clemens the big fish.
"It was a little bit of a shock at first going from one side of the country to the other," Clemens said of his recent move. "As it set in, I had an opportunity to talk to the coaches and I was really excited. For my wife and me, we are really excited to be here. It's a great opportunity to see a whole other side of the country, literally."
It has now been a little less than two months since Clemens moved to New York. He and his wife found an apartment and recently moved in, making them official New Yorkers. While there is so much to offer a young couple in a new city – especially for Oregonians in New York – Clemens admits that he has not been able to take part in the New York lifestyle as of yet, partially due to his adamant work ethic.
"I haven't seen anything except for the facilities at this point because we have been working so hard," he said. "Really, it's too early. I haven't seen or done enough at this point to know what my lifestyle is going to be like. I'll have to wait for the off season on that one."
Before that time comes, Clemens has a lot on his plate and he's rightfully taking in as much as possible. Head Coach Eric Mangini has noticed the dedication from his youngest signal caller.
"Kellen, he doesn't leave the building and he's always studying. He could move in here" said the first-year head coach. "Every time I see him, he's working, and I think that's the right thing for him to be doing right now. I think it's the right thing for all those rookies to be doing right now."
While Clemens is in the midst of a four-way battle for the starting job, his goals remain basic and extremely unselfish.
"My goals are pretty simple," said Clemens. "To learn the playbook, to compete, to push the other guys, and to be in a position to help the team win - that's the ultimate goal."
With their fourth round selection, the Jets fortified their defense by choosing an outgoing, sincere southerner whose long hair and tenacious play matches a wild personality. Anthony Schlegel, known as one of the mop-topped Buckeye linebackers while at Ohio State University, is an avid outdoors man and a true Texan to say the least. Although Schlegel spends his free time boar hunting in his native Texas, there is a very devoted and passionate side to this former world-record setting weight lifter.
"I'm having a good time learning the playbook," Schlegel said. "When you are at this level of football, it needs to be a passion for you and I have a passion for learning about it. It is just a lot of studying and being a student of the game."
In accordance to being a good student of the game, he has the ability to neglect the countless distractions that come with the New York scene. For the most part, he admits, it's because he doesn't have the time or the interest to get involved with any extra-curricular activities outside of playing football.
"I just stay in my place and don't really do a lot," said Schlegel who is referring to the apartment he has moved into with his wife, Stephanie. "I actually just study my playbook all the time and work out, so I don't have time to get bogged down. I just stay focused on football."
Much like Clemens, the 25-year old outdoorsman from Dallas offers an extremely unselfish assortment of goals for his NFL career.
"My goal is to make the team and to be a contributor," Schlegel said. "I have no clue what is going to happen with me. All I know is I'm going to study my tail off and do everything I can to be a factor on this football team."
The transition for the rookies has been going very well thus far, as they clearly have the desire to learn the plays and participate. For one rookie, the transition called for a little more than just a change of pace, it meant adapting to a whole new position. Brad Smith, the former Missouri superman who set an extremely prestigious college football record, was selected as a wide receiver.
"It's been good," said Smith. "It's been a lot of studying, a lot of working trying to figure out the nuances and learning how to be successful at that position. It's a little different for me as far as the running and being able to make the certain cuts, but I'm learning how to do it. There is not a lot of room for error because everything is moving quickly."
As a college quarterback, Smith became the first player to throw for at least 8,000 yards and run for at least 4,000 yards in his career. Speaking with the young man now certainly proves that his game does all the talking. Smith is a soft-spoken superstar, a quiet riot per say. He was a finalist for the Draddy Award in college, which is known as the "Academic Heisman" and was also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Like the fellow draft picks mentioned above, Smith hasn't been able to experience his surroundings as of yet, but that doesn't bother him.
"It's been fine. I haven't experienced too much of yet," said the 6'2" receiver from the small rural town of Liberty, Ohio. "I am just kind of laying low and trying to work hard and trying to figure out what to do out there to contribute to the team."
Clearly, these three young men have the talent and dedication to perform well enough on and off the field to help this franchise win. While they have yet to engulf what this amazing city has to offer, it's pretty obvious as to what their mindset is.
As Brad Smith puts it best, "It's football anywhere you go."