A back-to-back All-American cornerback at San Jose State, Dwight Lowery looked forward to the opportunity of playing at the next level after the Jets chose him in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
"Not knowing what's next but knowing where you're going to be, it was just a very exciting time," Lowery said. "But looking back on it, I don't think I was ready from a cultural standpoint just because where I'm from is probably literally the exact opposite of New York. So that was pretty big."
To help adjust from the cross-country move, the culture shock, and to learn about life in the NFL, Lowery looked to the D-line and eighth-year veteran and first-year Jet Kris Jenkins.
"He was like a really big brother for me," Lowery said. "I was going through some things, just frustrations as a rookie, growing pains, and whatnot. We went out to have lunch and he talked to me and was just there for me. Because I was across the country, I didn't really have a lot. That's somebody that I really appreciated."
Playing in 16 games while making 10 starts as a rookie, the following season, Lowery and his teammates were introduced to a new head coach when Rex Ryan was hired to replace Eric Mangini.
"Personally, I think it was good for me. Not just Rex, but his staff," Lowery said. "Their coaching style, I think, fit a bit more of what I was used to. So it helped make me feel more comfortable. And the football knowledge of that staff and their experience was very easy to respect.
"They taught well. It was new and exciting, the things they brought from a defensive standpoint. The smashmouth football that we played on offense, the personality fit was just New York mentality, how New York was at the time. It was just one of those things. It just fit."
Collecting three interceptions in 2009 and again in '10, which he returned two for touchdowns – a 26-yarder off of Minnesota's Brett Favre, and a 20-yarder off of Chicago's Jay Cutler – Lowery helped the Jets end both seasons playing in the AFC Championship Game.
Traded to Jacksonville in 2011, Lowery left New York as a three-year veteran with invaluable experience he had attained from his Jet teammates.
"When I moved on from New York, there were certainly things that I learned from Darrelle Revis as a competitor, somebody that played the game at a high level and was highly prepared," Lowery said. "But there's so many things that I learned from so many people when I was there that stayed with me throughout the length of my career.
"It was Darrelle. A guy like David Harris from a leadership standpoint. The whole offensive line that we had, how those guys approached the game and really set the tone for our football team. Calvin Pace, his whole demeanor and how he approached the game. Jim Leonhard, his intelligence. Eric Smith, his versatility and ability to be able to provide the team great special teams play, and just really, his overall knowledge of the game. Donald Strickland, from the short time he was there. He was a Bay area guy, and I was able to relate to him a bit. I mean, I can go on and on."
After moving on to the Jaguars for three years, Lowery would spend one season each with the Falcons, Colts, and Chargers. Tripling the average length of a player's career, what makes him most proud of his time in the NFL?
"I think my ability to overcome and adapt to a lot of different circumstances," said Lowery, who had 17 career interceptions. "I think I experienced about as much as any player ever experienced. I was drafted. I was traded. I was part of an ownership change. I was cut. I tried out. I had two really good, statistically good years, but still had a hard time finding a place to play when I was in like my sixth, seventh, eighth year.
"I always tried to add to my game or be versatile enough to adapt to any coaching situation. And that happened early in my career. Starting with Mangini and going right to Rex was two completely different coaching styles. And that was like a real good introduction. I probably had nine or 10 different head coaches in my career, and all the coordinators or whatnot that came with that.
"Speaking of the Jets, Rex and Dennis Thurman, Mike Pettine, and those guys, they taught me so much about the game I was able to use no matter what situation I was in."
That includes the situation Lowery's in now as the head coach at his alma mater, Soquel (CA) High School. There since 2018, everything that he learned on game days, at training camps and practices, and at team meetings, is benefitting him as the one patrolling the sideline.
"Mostly of my experiences from the Jets, but there's other teams and other situations that you pull from them and apply it to all sides of the ball," Lowery said. "On defense when I was there, they had a really good understanding of how to use their depth and their personnel. And be able to get guys on the field and allow for them to do what they do best. That's been something to where I've been able to get more kids on the field. And being able to identify what they do well and how they can help the football team.
"(Coaching at my alma mater), I think it's awesome. It wasn't really something I was looking to do. I originally wanted to be more of a trainer to the youth. But this opportunity opened, and I was asked if I wanted to do it. It was a way for me to use everything that I learned and experienced and just be able to help the kids that are there, that are walking in the same hallways and locker rooms that I was at."
Making his home in Santa Cruz, Lowery and his wife, Ashley, have two daughters: Amani and Gia.