American football is an ever-growing sport in the UK not only in relation to growing fans of the sport but also those participating in the sport. This off-season in the NFL saw four players signed to NFL practice squads as part of the 2017 International Player Pathway Program. One of the four players was Alex Jenkins who has been on the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints. Alex Jenkins is a former player for the Filton Pride down at Bristol Academy of Sports, which provides hopefuls with links to the NCAA college programmes in the US and other in routes to American sports.
The Nighthawks recently announced the exciting news of James Matthews of the Nighthawks Juniors being accepted into the Academy so we thought it would be good to find out a little more about Filton Pride from a former student who now plays for the Merseyside Nighthawks Adult team, Dom Woo, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about what your experience at Filton was like:
It was different, moving away from home and having to live by myself was a learning curve. In terms of football it was incredible, we would train three days a week and have Strength & Conditioning three or four days a week. It helped develop me so much.
And your currently a Wide receiver at the Nighthawks, did you go to Filton as an offensive guy?
Yes, I went there as a wide receiver. My rookie year was mainly about development; there were seniors in the team better than me who got the most of the reps, 2 of them are playing in the NCAA now, but second year is where I started to become more of an option. It was great though because you were taught all the positions and I got to play a few reps of Defensive line, Offensive line, Running back, Linebacker and Defensive back.
So you had a wide mix of experience there. Personally, from a footballing standpoint, what did you find the academy helped you with the most?
Everything! If I had to single something though then I’d probably say it’s the fundamentals and technique. They work so hard on it during ‘indies’ (drills specific to the position) and the coaches are quick to critique.
Did that include film study?
Yes, we didn’t have as many film sessions as we wanted when I was there but I believe they’ve managed to increase it now.
You touched on living away from home for the first time. Some will likely be in the same position when they join. What did Filton help with the most from a non-football point of view?
Probably discipline to be honest, and that’s both on and off the field. I had to learn quickly, didn’t have my mum to wake me up in the morning or do my cooking and cleaning so it really helped me to mature and grow up.
So do you have any advice for James who will undergo a similar experience as you did?
Listen to the coaches! Don’t get involved with the wrong crowd and give everything 100%. Don’t be scared of messing up too much because you’ll be able to correct it further down the line.
The most important piece of advice, from me, is to take all the reps you can. We had a rule of don’t go out of the drill until somebody takes you out.
For more information you can visit the Bristol Academy of Sports website. We have provided the link here: www.bristolacademyofsport.co.uk
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