James Gillespie: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: James Gillespie
School: Widener University
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
Being a fifth year senior, I came back to school with one goal in mind. To leave my program better than I found it. Although we have been a contender for our conference championship many years, we fell short during my time at Widener. In 2021, we competed for our conference championship and made a bowl game finishing with the best record I’ve had there. Individually, I was 1st Team All Conference for the second year in a row, 3rd all time at Widener in receiving TDs at 32, and 4th all time in receiving yards at 2,889.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
I was able to take advantage of this opportunity by getting stronger and faster during 2020. The 2021 season allowed me to focus on my craft while still putting together more film.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
I think my teammates would consider me a leader by example. Someone who is hard working and detail oriented but still looks comfortable and plays loose. I always try to set a good example and bring guys along with me. My coaches have described me as a backyard football athlete with an IQ of a pro. A natural athlete who can adjust to the football in the air and make the tough catch.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
I love dissecting coverages and finding tendencies of opponents. Having this advantage over your opponent can separate you from others and make decision making quicker and more effective. When analyzing myself, I look at footwork in and out of breaks, speed off the ball, and my decision making process throughout the play. Focusing on the little details will translate in a big play.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I think my football intelligence separates me from others. I’m not the biggest, fastest, or strongest but I still manage to get open and catch the ball. I do this by reading defenses, understanding leverage and finding open gaps in the secondary. Understanding the playbook is crucial to my position and that has always been a strong point in my game. Knowing the playbook like the back of my hand allows me to go play freely without any mental errors.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I plan to continue to run routes and catch balls in addition to working on speed with a trainer. Working out has always been a hobby of mine so I will also work with a trainer to develop a lifting regiment as well as follow a nutrition plan.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
Like I mentioned before my football IQ and my determination to work hard will be my greatest strengths. Coming from a D3 school, I won’t be the flashiest stand out player but I know what it takes to be great receiver and football player. The level I played in college is all guys who genuinely love the game of football. No scholarships, no NILs, just guys who love the game and work extremely hard. I think those are the type of guys people root for and get behind.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
Like I mentioned above, if a team is willing to take a shot on me they would be getting a hard nosed football player who is willing to stop at nothing to help improve his team. My greatest asset is that I have nothing to lose so everyday I would go out and leave it all out on the field. It wouldn’t matter if it was a game, practice, walkthrough, lift, film session or meeting. You would get a guy who loves this game with consistency and a great work ethic who wants to win.
View Film: https://www.hudl.com/profile/3639655/James-Gillespie