The Jets were not only adding a wide receiver to their roster when they chose TCU's Jeremy Kerley in the 2011 NFL Draft, they were adding a punt returner, as well.
A two-time Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year, as a senior, Kerley was also a second-team All- Mountain West wide receiver.
"I was excited," Kerley said of being drafted by New York in the fifth round. "I know a lot of people don't get the opportunity, so when my name was called, I was happy. I was relieved."
After leading the Jets in punt returns for the first of five consecutive seasons as a rookie, Kerley also stepped up when needed, and led the team in receiving his second year with 56 catches for 827 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was unfortunate how it happened, with guys getting hurt," Kerley said. "But, yeah, it was cool just to be in that position and kind of lead the team how I had the opportunity to. So I'm just glad I had the opportunity to take advantage of it.
"(The coaches didn't say what they expected from me) for the most part. I had some expectations of my own. But, no, they didn't put any pressure on me or anything. They kind of just let me be me."
Also leading the Jets in receiving the following season, 2013, with 43 catches for 523 yards and three touchdowns, what were Kerley's expectations?
"My No. 1 goal that I had was to lead the team in yards and receptions. And to not have a hiccup, I guess, on the offense with those guys being gone," he said. "We went 6-10, but for the most part, we did alright with the guys we had. I was pretty happy with how my season ended in 2012."
Kerley not only played admirably when he was seemingly close to being the last receiver standing, but he did so while playing under four different offensive coordinators during his first five seasons.
"You know what, to be honest, a lot of people don't understand how tough that is to try to get comfortable. Even for your family, because you're always worried about guys coming in, coaches coming in with the guys that they like. And if you don't fit that style of offense or whatever, it kind of uproots your whole life," Kerley said.
"I kind of just rolled with it for the most part. My first offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, was a good dude. After that, we had the late Tony Sparano, rest in peace. That was my guy. I had so much fun playing underneath him and I think the reason why I had so much fun was because we bumped heads a lot. He was a question guy during meetings. He'd ask all these questions and I never really paid attention, so I didn't really answer half of them. And he always used to just stay on my ass. But I liked him and I admired him a lot.
"And then I had Marty Mornhinweg. He's another one. That's my guy. I love him. He's another guy I'd go to bat for. And then at the end I had Chan Gailey. Which, I don't know, it's bittersweet with Chan. I know the team went 10-6 (in 2015), I just felt like I wasn't what he wanted in a player. And his reason was, he liked bigger, taller receivers. Yet everybody that he brought in to replace me was the same height, the same stature. But it was what it was. Like I said, a lot of guys don't understand how tough it is to have four offensive coordinators in five years and still survived it."
After playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, Kerley returned to the Jets in 2017.
"I had been released by San Francisco, and (head coach) Kyle Shanahan, he was a real good guy, he told me that he would help me get on whatever team that I wanted to. And I knew the Jets' receivers were hurting at the time, so me and my agent were like, 'Let's go back where it started from.' I'm assuming that Kyle made the call over. I had to work out, which probably you wouldn't even call it a workout. I ran one or two routes and that was it," said Kerley, who would have to serve a four-game suspension that season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances.
With the Jets for six of his eight years in the NFL, Kerley played in 99 games for New York, San Francisco, and Buffalo. He had 270 career receptions for 3,116 yards and 13 touchdowns to go along with 173 punt returns for 1,503 yards and a touchdown.
What are among the fondest memories from his time with the Green & White?
"Anytime that we beat the Patriots, that was pretty cool," Kerley said. "But I'd have to say, opening day in 2012 when we opened up with the Bills (and won 48-28), I had a (68-yard) punt return for a touchdown. That was my first punt return for a touchdown in the NFL. And in that same game, I had a (12-yard) reception touchdown. So that was my one and only multiple touchdown games. Which was pretty cool.
"And then in 2013, coming off of a dislocated elbow, I missed four games. The game that I got back, we played Oakland at Metlife (Stadium), and there was (25-yard) bomb that I caught between three or four defenders for a touchdown. So that was kind of like my welcome back game. It was cool to win that game (37-27) and have that touchdown. I felt the energy of the crowd when I scored. I always got a lot of love in New York. When I scored, it was like the whole crowd was cheering for me, and it felt pretty good."
During his first year away from the game, Kerley did something else that made him feel pretty good – launching his own fashion line, DYM Denim. He and his wife, Kristal, named the company after their three children: Dae'shon, Y'manni, and Ma'liyah.
"It's something that I'm passionate about. That's my baby, that's my inspiration. Fashion is something that's always been a part of me," Kerley said. "Growing up, I didn't have a lot of money. My family struggled a little bit. So when I got some money in my pocket and had the opportunity to change that, I always had an eye for that, so I changed it the best way I could. It's jeans, it's t-shirts, it's tank tops for women, it's tights for women, it's shirts for women, it's a couple things."