Jason Pinnock has the kind of background that has prepared him for the pro career he's just started to head out on as a fifth-round rookie cornerback for the New York Jets.
Pinnock grew up in Windsor, CT, which he describes as a small town but with a big perspective on life.
"We call it 'the Connetiway,' " he has explained. "It's a form of camaraderie. I'm a big hometown guy and everybody knows everybody here. It's about building that brand. Just because you're a smalltown guy, you can have those bigtime dreams. They're attainable."
Being from Connetiway ... er, Connecticut, Pinnock grew up a New York sports fan. Specifically, a Jets fan since, oh, around 2007, which is when the Jets landed on "Revis Island."
"I've been a fan since Darrelle Revis," he said. "I've had a couple of conversations with him, not many. He's a smart, smart football player."
It wasn't hard to run into Revis since Pinnock decided to stay within driving distance of the East Coast by playing at Pittsburgh, Revis' school, for four years.
Another element of that Pinnock background was playing at a school that had a practice field situated right next to a Steelers practice field up in the Pittsburgh hills. He was asked on NFL Network's Good Morning Football what it was like seeing the pros work on a regular basis.
"It's humbling, but it also lets you know the goal is attainable, right there in front of you," he said. "You see those guys every day, you build relationships with them. It offers younger guys in college the opportunity to see how to be a professional before you're required to be a professional."
The 6-0½, 205-pounder built himself into a third-day-of-the-draft pro prospect. He became the Panthers' fulltime starter last season, played 43 games (19 starts) in all, and totaled six interceptions and 25 pass defenses. At his pro day, he turned in a 4.49 time in the 40. His 20 shuttle time of 4.10 was tied for the sixth-fastest among all corners at their pro days.
And his 39.5" vertical, with which he implements one of the trademarks of his game — "Can sky and pick the interception over top of the receiver," Lance Zierlein analyzed on nfl.com — would've been sixth among all corners as well.
What does he think the Jets are getting in their 175th overall pick?
"You're getting everything you're asking for in a corner," he said. "A gritty player. You're going to get length and speed. I can change direction, drop my hips. I'm a vocal player, presnap and postsnap. I'm a great teammate. ... A lot of things."
And what's that vocal player all about? Well, Pinnock is a self-described trash talker.
"I'm what you would call on the Internet a troller," he said. "I like to get 'em just a bit flustered, not too much. I may say, 'Man, after this series let's go ask your OC to get you some touches, get you the ball, because I'm getting bored over here.' "
Pinnock, as a fifth-rounder, knows he has to improve his game. But he's prepared to hit the ground running as a pro corner in Florham Park, NJ, beginning Friday with head coach Robert Saleh's first Jets rookie minicamp. He's ready to begin attacking and attaining his dreams.
"I'm so ready to get to work," he said from his hometown of Windsor. "I'm ready to hit the road and get to work."
See the Top Photos of the Cornerback from Pittsburgh and 175th Overall Selection by the Jets in the 2021 NFL Draft