Q: Tell us about the process. When did you get a feeling that the Patriots might draft you and basically what does it mean to you at this point to be a member of the New England Patriots?
MJ: Yeah, it was a really great experience just going through the whole draft process. And I got a chance to meet with obviously the Patriots on Zoom with Coach [Josh] McDaniels and stuff and we just talked football and went through some stuff. And from this point forward, now that I'm on a team, I'm really just looking forward to learning from him, from the other quarterbacks, and just coming in and doing what I did at Alabama, just work hard and kind of go from there.
Q: I'm curious, you go from one essential dynasty of a program to one of the winningest programs in the NFL. And I'm wondering if you feel your time at Alabama, in the winning that you saw there, kind of helps you keep up that prestige that the Patriots carry, they expect to win every year. Robert Kraft said that earlier this month, that he expects to be a contender every year. How do you feel like your time at Alabama will relate that to the Patriots?
MJ: Being at Alabama definitely helps, but we have to move forward [inaudible] new life with the Patriots. So whatever I did in the past, kind of doesn't really matter. I just got to come in and work hard and hopefully good things will happen. But the past is the past and the future is the future and I'm just kind of focused on what we're focused on right now.
Q: How much did you study the Patriots over the course of the last few years? You expressed your respect for the organization, obviously, when you were on stage. I know you worked with Bill O'Brien, reportedly, as well working with him on the Alabama offense. Did you have a chance to pick his brain about the Patriots in particular?
MJ: Yes, I watched a ton of their stuff with Cam and even with Tom Brady when he was there and I just love what Josh McDaniels does. He does great job. He's very creative. And just to watch good football plays on tape is what you want to look at and good quarterback play. So, I always try to find games from the Patriots in the past and looked at them through the draft process just because it's a great football team and to be a part of it now is awesome and I'm looking forward to just learning from those other guys.
Q: I saw where you had been a Patriots fan, you had been at a Tom Brady fan. Is there a, was there one of the Super Bowls or a Tom Brady play or something that really stands out to you as something that kind of led to that fandom or something that really fueled that?
MJ: Yeah, I mean, I just love watching him, how he maneuvers through the pocket and stuff. But for me it's just being myself and being my own player and obviously he did great things for New England and I'm just looking forward to going in there and working. I've watched all the Super Bowls, regardless of the team, so it was awesome. Obviously, Tom and the New England Patriots were in a lot of them growing up, so I got a chance to watch them and I just like good football in general.
Q: Following up on that, Patriots had a great run with Tom over 19 years, and you coming in as a first-round pick, there will be a lot of expectations with that. How do you feel you're prepared to handle that?
MJ: Yeah, I mean, for me, I'm actually joining a really great quarterback room with Cam Newton, who is played in the NFL for a really long time. He's earned the respect of his teammates, going into New England, being a captain. And then you got Jarrett [Stidham], who I really loved watching at Auburn and kind of use as a role model. So both those guys are role models to me right now and I'm just going to go behind them and learn how they did it because they have seen a lot of good quarterbacks too like Tom and everybody, so obviously just play my role and listen to them and take advice and help them however I can, whether it's taking notes or whatever I need to do to help the team win.
Q: You actually just touched on it a little bit there, but I was going to ask what you know about Cam Newton and how you feel about coming into a quarterback room with a guy that has that much experience and that much, yeah, that much success throughout his career?
MJ: Yeah, we got two Auburn guys and one Alabama guy [laughs], so I know that. But Cam's awesome and I've only heard great things when talking to people that I know from the Patriots about how great of a guy he is and how much everyone loves him. He just has fun with it, and I do too, so hopefully we can kind of have fun together and I'll help him out, like I said. I mean, it's his show and I'm just there to support him and then kind of just help out the team in whatever way I can.
Q: We saw Coach McDaniels and Coach Bill Belichick with you at your pro day and I was wondering what your interactions were with, was like at that point and what it's been since then?
MJ: Yeah, like I said, we have been on Zoom a few times and stuff and they did come to my pro day and that was awesome. I know Coach [Bill] Belichick and Coach [Nick] Saban have a really good relationship, so they were just kind of talking behind and I just said hello to Coach Belichick and Coach Josh. And, yeah, they were just watching and kind of just looking at everybody. So it was good for them to be there and hopefully I got to show the type of quarterback I was at that pro day and I'm just glad that they took me and it's going to be awesome.
Q: Actually, just picking up on that, I was wondering what sort of interactions you have had with Coach Belichick, either at your pro day or just in general over the years, given I know he's somewhat involved with the Alabama program?
MJ: Yeah, I mean, he was always coming down for pro days when I was like a freshman and stuff and obviously I didn't talk to him. But he's a great coach and I'm just glad that he was there and I got to show off some of my skills and stuff. But at the end of the day, he's the coach and I'm the player and I'm just looking forward to him kind of coaching me hard and me just take good coaching, so that's what it comes down to.
Q: You just said that it's Cam's show and that you're there to support him. Do you feel like you are competing for a starting role once you actually get to the Patriots and start practicing in training camp?
MJ: I've never played in the NFL or anything and I don't know what it's like, so I'm just going to go in there and work really hard like I always have and I always will. And like I said, I mean, Cam earned the respect of the team already and my job is to support him and Jarrett and help them become better players if I can. I've never played in the NFL, but I have seen good football and I know that I can help them with anything they need, whether it's taking notes or taking stress off their mind. So I'm just going to be that great teammate that I know I can be.
Q: What was the process like for you because I think that most people thought you would be going to the 49ers at No. 3, so what was it like maybe waiting a little bit longer than you thought you might?
MJ: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, you kind of want to just get the right fit and I feel like, secretly, I really wanted to go to the Patriots all along, so I'm actually really happy that it happened. But it doesn't really matter. You get picked. You got to take the opportunity and take advantage of it and learn the new system, learn the new coaches, learn the new culture, and Coach Belichick's done a great job establishing that throughout his time in New England and I just got to learn how to be a great teammate and do my job and stick to what they're telling me to do.
Q: I know a lot of people already asked you about Bill and all that, but you have a couple former teammates in the locker room and some other Alabama guys. I know Damien Harris tweeted at you, but what have those interactions been like with the former 'Bama guys already in the room?
MJ: Yeah, they have some guys up there, like you said, Damien and Anfernee [Jennings] and everybody, so I've just been in contact with them. I saw Anfernee down there working out at Alabama so we talked a little bit. And obviously me and Damien are pretty much best friends. He's helped me through the draft process and I've been telling him the whole time that I wanted to come to the Patriots and so I'm just happy that it happened. But at the end of the day they're going to be guys I look up to and guys that I want to be a great teammate for. So whatever they need to, I'm going to do my best to continue that relationship, but it just goes back to being a good guy and being a good friend however I can be like I did at Alabama.
Q: The moment when you were drafted and walking down across the stage and hugging the commissioner you had a moment there with commissioner Roger Goodell. Just what was that like? Did it live up to reality of being drafted?
MJ: Oh, yeah, it was awesome and that's just a great experience to be with my family and to get invited here and to see all the other guys go before me with their families and the celebrations and stuff. So it's all good, but now you just got to kind of look at it and just enjoy the experience, but it's time to go to work. And going up there with Goodell was awesome. It's like video game-type stuff. But we were just talking about how great of a fit it might be and I think he totally supports me and he's a great guy and it was good to just be able to shake his hand up there on TV and stuff.
Q: It sounds like you've been in contact with the Patriots here and there throughout the draft process. When you think back about those meetings, Zoom, in person, whatever it was, what were some of the consistent things they wanted to talk to you about every time you got to meet with them?
MJ: Yeah, I think they did a great job, first of all, figuring out what type of person I was and what type of person I am by just learning my background, which is what a lot of people do, but it felt more personable with the Patriots. And then from there, watching my tape, even watched some stuff from the Senior Bowl and stuff and talked football. And that's what I love to do is just talk football. So to get a chance to do it with Coach McDaniels is just awesome. He's a great football mind and hopefully we can just continue to build a relationship that we started kind of through the Zoom process.
Q: When you talk about they knew your background really well, I know the draft process of dredging up everything, good and bad, did they want to talk about some of the mistakes I know you made your freshman year with the DUI or was it more about your character since then?
MJ: Yeah, I addressed that with every team. I've learned from it. Obviously, it made me a lot better person, so I'm really glad it happened in a way and I've just moved on and anybody that knows me knows that I'm a great guy and I try to be a great friend to everybody. And, yeah, I've just grown from it and hopefully I can move on, which I already have, through out the past couple years.
Q: You have said all along that you wanted to be a Patriot, so you must have done self-evaluation, so what skills in your tool box do you think can help you succeed in the NFL, particularly in the Patriots system?
MJ: Yeah, I think for me, you know, you can base everything off college, but I'm very accurate and stuff with the football, and I'm a great teammate, like I said earlier, and a great leader, but at the end of the day, I'm on a new team and I kind of have to figure out what I'm good at and what I'm bad at and just work on it. So once you can address that, you can just move forward, but at the end of the day, it comes down to being a good teammate and fitting in where I can fit in and do the best I can every day.
Q: Another coaching question, past and present. What was the most striking thing you've learned about Belichick during this process and maybe even before, and then the second part of the question is about Nick Saban. How do you think he's prepared you for the next level? Were there things that he specifically has drilled into you or given you advice on?
MJ: I think with both of them, obviously I love hearing both their leadership styles, they're very similar and that's why they have been so successful, but obviously they're close friends and I've loved to get coached by Coach Belichick all along and now it's going to happen, so I'm just looking forward to it and Coach Saban did an awesome job coaching me and stuff and I learned a lot from him, but it's two different coaches and I'm just looking forward to getting into my new spot and taking coaching really well.
Q: I wanted to ask, you said multiple times now that you wanted to get drafted by the Patriots, so why did you want to get drafted by New England?
MJ: Honestly, New England's just a great place. In watching them the past years, they do everything right. It's all about the team. That's kind of what I grew up knowing is being a good teammate and then obviously winning it comes down to winning football games and New England's done that, but they don't look in the past, they just look in the future, so we got to just focus on trying to win games and then take it day by day and eventually you'll win a lot of games. So, I'm just looking forward to getting in there and meeting my new teammates and seeing what happens from there.
Q: What happens now? When do you, logistically, when are you allowed to be some place, when can you get with teammates and so forth, what's kind of your next steps to try to accelerate your process?
MJ: Yeah, I really have no idea. Really just tonight you don't really know where you're going to go and now I know where I'm going to go, so that's about all I know. And I'm super blessed to be in the position I am and whenever I get the chance to go up there I'm going to go up there and do whatever I can to learn the playbook and meet some teammates and just kind of play my role and learn from the quarterback room and just stay in my own lane. So I'm looking forward to it and hopefully -- I've only been to New England and Boston one time, so it's going to be interesting to kind of get back up there.
Q: What you did do in that one time you were in Boston?
MJ: I think we left on a cruise and I actually, I almost like lost my foot because my foot got stuck, I had a Croc on in an escalator and it got stuck in the escalator, that's all I remember. But yeah, kind of crazy.
Q: When was that situation with the cruise ship?
MJ: That was a while ago. I'll have to get you the exact date, but I was probably like 10. I just remember I literally almost lost my foot. But anyways…