So if the last 10 minutes of the Super Bowl reminded you a lot of a certain receiver in Nebraska red, well, you weren’t alone:
You vs The Guy she told you not to worry about pic.twitter.com/llulaH4Aiw
— ESPEN (@espensandnes) February 6, 2017
— Jordan Westerkamp (@JordanWesty1) February 6, 2017
“This one scout was just asking me a bunch questions, just looking at me and rattling off a bunch of questions,” Jordan Westerkamp recalls.
“And then he stopped. And he looked at me and said, ‘Where does the sun rise?’
“And I said, ‘The east.’
“And they go, ‘Are you sure?’
“Just things like that, just to catch me off-guard, little things like that. But I really enjoyed it. It was great.”
All you need is a single opportunity to change your life forever…..When that opportunity comes you better be ready!!!!
— Jordan Westerkamp (@JordanWesty1) January 31, 2017
Be ready. The postgraduate ethos is eternal, its principles universal, even if the stages are oil and water. The months before the NFL Draft are a bit like the run-up to law school that way, cramming for specific flashpoints on the road to the rest of your professional life. There, LSATs. Here, pro days.
Westerkamp’s body is his textbook, each page precious. So they grind in south Florida Monday through Saturday, dawn to near dusk, starting at 6:30 in the morning and ending at 4 in the afternoon.
“So we’re there all day,” the former Cornhuskers wideout says. “It’s a ton, but I love it. I absolutely love it.”
Westerkamp estimates that 18 hours each week are devoted just to rehab, much of it in the pool, getting the left knee back up to speed — game speed — again, a rep at a time.
“I go there and work out all day and just get better,” he says, “and get home and I can’t move my body, because I’m so tired. It’s been great. I love it. I’m getting there.”
He’s driven like a ’78 Malibu, burning rubber for kicks. Doubt is No. 1’s racing fuel, slights his spirit animal. That Westerkamp wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine — teammates Nate Gerry, the latter of whom is training with him at Bommarito Performance Systems in Davie, Fla., got the call, along with tight end Cethan Carter — was simply more powder for the keg.
“Undersized, slow, not athletic” #ProveThemWrong
— Jordan Westerkamp (@JordanWesty1) February 12, 2017
“It was a tough year, just with those crazy injuries,” says Westerkamp, who tore the meniscus in his left knee in December, scratching him from the Music City Bowl, having already missed two games of his senior season with back problems. “Everything happens for a reason. I know there’s a plan that’s already set for me.
“I always try to remain positive. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. That’s not going to help you at all. Remain positive. Everything happens for a reason, control what you can control, and work your tail off.”
Since Jan. 7, the tail’s been working overtime, often alongside Gerry and former Huskers linebacker Josh Banderas down in Davie. Mother Nature can be a fickle mistress, but Westerkamp’s knee is healing ahead of schedule and there’s a chance he’ll be green-lighted to run and cut again at full speed within the next 10 days.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” says the Chicago native, who led the Big Red in catches (38), receiving yards (526) and touchdown grabs (five) despite the football gods wreaking havoc on his senior season. “It’s kind of a relief. They had to repair some cartilage in the knee as well and do a bone (clean).
“I’m moving around a little better. I feel completely normal, but with the surgery that I had you have to allow the bone to heal, so it makes you (wait). You feel good about it, you feel completely normal, but you still have to give a couple weeks just to let that bone heal. What they’ve been telling me is I’ll be able to do all the running and all the on-field activities. I would have to refrain from contact stuff, (but) I should be able to within a month or two.”
The waiting is the hardest part. No, no, no, that’s not right. The hardest part is watching your teammates scratch and claw for points in Nashville, and knowing that there isn’t a freaking thing you can do about it. The brothers you’ll cherish forever and the moments you’ll never get back.
“It’s tough,” says Westerkamp, who hadn’t missed a collegiate game before 2016 and whose Nebraska tenure wrapped with him second on the Big Red’s all-time receptions list (167). “Obviously, it sucked at first … but that initial pain, it was just not physically, more emotionally than physically.
“It was just horrible. I wanted so badly to finish out my senior year and play in that bowl game and finish against Tennessee and go out with a possible victory. When the injury occurred, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? Another weird injury?’ It was just a really weird season with these awkward injuries. But I quickly stopped feeling sorry for myself. I know that wasn’t going to get me any better.
“Being down there and seeing the other guys I’m working with (fighting) … I try to go as crazy as I can just to get better and use all that stuff as motivation.”
Set expectations. Exceed them. Get better everyday!
— Jordan Westerkamp (@JordanWesty1) January 25, 2017
Worst-case, he’s rolling near 100 percent in time for Nebraska’s pro day on March 14. That’s good. And the buzz out of Westerkamp’s non-playing invite to the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., last month was even better.
“I’m still grateful,” he says, “that they allowed me to go.”
The days before the Jan. 21 contest allowed the former Huskers wideout valuable face time with NFL coaches, scouts, and front-office types. It was another one of those pre-draft flashpoints, and early word from the Bay was that Westerkamp rocked the interviews.
Even the weird ones.
Especially the weird ones.
“There were some questions that (you) were just kind of like, ‘What?’ ” the Huskers wideout chuckled. “(Stuff) that you don’t think about every day.”
Prove them wrong. The sun comes up in the east, same as it ever was. If there’s a beam to catch, Westerkamp will be ready. And, Lord knows, willing.