K JUSTIN ROHRWASSER – 2020 DRAFT, PICK 159
April 25, 2020
Q: Something that's always been important to New England is not just the field goal kicking but the kickoffs. Some of the reports I think I read on you were that you were able to be very effective in placing your kickoffs at Marshall. I'm just curious, what you feel about your ability to tactically place your kickoffs when you're ask to do so?
JR: I'm very talented and I work constantly on placing the ball in corners, high hang time kicks at the goal line and then also the driven balls out of the back. I'm confident that whatever the coaches would like me to do this season, I'm going to perform well at it.
Q: Another big factor here in New England obviously is kicking outside in the elements. You obviously have experience at the University of Rhode Island and then moved on to Marshall. I'm curious what your experience has been and how much you work on handling bad weather and kicking in bad weather?
JR: That's basically what I've been doing for the past month and a half because I'm out in Buffalo, New York, training and we don't have the best weather every day here. We can't really get into indoor facilities, so it's been training outside in the high wind and the rain and sometimes snow, like this past week. I did spring ball outside in Rhode Island, so I'm very well-versed in bad weather and bad conditions for kicking, and I'm confident I can excel in it.
Q: From what I've read, you seem to pride yourself on making kicks in clutch situations. Can you take us through your process when approaching those kicks? Beyond your success, what is allowing you to continue to make kicks in those spots?
JR: You've got to make sure that every kick is the same kick. You never want to go into a kick thinking that it's a big situation. Everything's routine. It should be routine. You've done it a hundred times. You block out all the nerves and you rely on your fundamentals. I think that just comes from training yourself mentally to be ready for big-time situations. I've been fortunate that I was a goal keeper when I played soccer, so it's a high-pressure position. Transferring over to kicker was a smooth transition, so I can use a lot of the same skills to block out nerves and just rely on what I know how to do, which is kick.
Q: How familiar are you with the lineage here in New England with Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski. and what are your thoughts about following in their footsteps?
JR: There's a fantastic lineage of special teams in New England going back decades. Going into it, I'm just treating it the same as any position I'd be walking into. I'm going to put all my heart into it, I'm going to work my butt off, I'm going to train hard and just put my head down and go to work. I'm going to try do the best I can and be the best version of myself.
Q: How much contact did you have the Patriots throughout this process?
JR: I had good contact with Coach [Cam] Achord. He came to pro day and we kept in contact since. We built a nice relationship throughout it.
Q: What did your time at URI teach you as a player? Did it teach you how Patriot-crazy the New England area is? I know you come from New York, so what did you learn about that and about yourself as a player when you were at URI?
JR: At Rhode Island, I had a great support staff. Our coaches were great and you learn an invaluable, a huge amount of information from them day to day. Coming from high school going to college my freshman year, that's when you learn to so much about the process of college football. I learned a ton at Rhode Island. My teammates and coaches taught me every day. As far as Patriots fans, I was there [in 2016] when they won the Super Bowl and the whole campus was basically on fire. It was unreal. The fan base is fantastic and loyal and it's a great spot. I'm so happy to be there.
Q: How would you describe what type of person the Patriots are getting?
JR: I think they're getting a hard worker and somebody who is going to chase after the best version of themself and a good teammate. I want to do my best in order to help the team win.
Q: Can you tell us your thoughts about Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski?
JR: When you're growing up and watching some of the greats kicks – when I was in high school and just learning how to kick – you look at all these guys and you try to take stuff from all the great kickers throughout history. You try to learn from their film and those are two guys I always watched and was always big fans of them. They're fantastic and great pros, absolutely.
Q: During the pre-draft process, did teams do anything to test you under pressure? Obviously, we talked about how you've proven yourself under pressure in certain situations, but did the Patriots or other teams do anything interesting to challenge you?
JR: Sadly, we didn't get the private workouts, so that's one thing that I'm sure that, if they were going to try to put pressure situations on me, that might have been the time. But, I think I can speak for a lot of my friends that are kickers, as well, and were training for their pro days and the guys I was training with up in Buffalo – pro days are a very special day for any college player that's looking to play after, and there's a lot of nerves going into it for everybody. Every kicker can kick a ball straight and hard over 55 [yards]. Almost all college kickers can do that, but it's the ones that can do it consistently under pressure in situations like a pro day or during the season. In practice, most guys are great. It's when the lights are on, that's when you've got to show what you're made of.
Q: One of your tattoos matches a group called the Three Percenters. What's the story there?
JR: I got that tattoo when I was a teenager and I have a lot of family in the military. I thought it stood for a military support symbol at the time. Obviously, it's evolved into something that I do not want to represent. When I look back on it, I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body, and it's not something I ever want to represent. It will be covered.
Q: Were you expecting to go this high in the draft?
JR: I didn't have any expectations going in. No matter what, I just tried to stay level-headed and enjoy the day with my family. I'm lucky enough to be with them today. I didn't have any expectations going in. I knew if I could get an opportunity, I was going to go take advantage of it. I'm very blessed that the Patriots came and took me.
Q: Growing up, which team did you root for? Were you a big NFL fan?
JR: To be honest with you, growing up, I didn't have much of a team. I was in the Albany area. You had Buffalo four hours west. Three hours down you had the Jets and Giants. I was big into soccer, so I watched football but I didn't have a team. I kind of followed whatever my dad liked. Then I started training my senior year and I went to a few Bills games, so I became somewhat of a Bills fan, but I was never a big team guy because I liked to follow players. I'm the kind of guy if it's a good game, it's a good game. I'm not super concerned who wins when I'm a spectator.
Q: Going back to the Super Bowl you watched at URI, were you rooting against the Patriots?
JR: The Super Bowl was fantastic because I was with a group of teammates at the time, and they were all Pats fans. I was just sitting with them. I rooted along with them because I didn't really have a dog in the fight at the time, but I loved watching different players – all the good players that we watched in that game. I just tried to enjoy the game. I didn't root for or against.
Q: Was that the Super Bowl when the Patriots came back against Atlanta?
JR: 2016, yeah. The unreal comeback. Yes.
Q: Stephen Gostkowski talked about how in 2006, the Patriots did a little more homework than most teams on him. Do you remember anything different from the way the Patriots looked at you than another team?
JR: Well, I did a psychological test with them, and that stood out to me because I think that kicking, a lot of it is mental. The fact that they were looking into that and what my mental makeup was, and Coach Achord came to my pro day and got to watch me in person, have a conversation with me that morning – I think they put a lot of attention to who the player is as a person to figure out what kind of guy they're getting.
Q: Is it accurate that your size is 6-3, around 230 pounds?
Q: That's a football player. Do you think that size may help you at the next level or in any other role besides kicking?
JR: I don't know. I'm really just focused on kicking. I mean, the size – I always was a bigger kicker. I go to the camps with all of my other friends that kick and I'm usually one of the bigger guys. I look more like a punter, to be honest. But yeah, I'm not really looking at anything else. I'm just focused on doing the job I was brought in to do, and that's kick the football through the uprights.