By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider
Patient and prepared is how you might describe Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford’s road to the NFL. Some people might be surprised to learn that Langford did not play organized sports until his freshman year of high school when he was a three-sport student-athlete at John Glenn High School just outside of the city of Detroit, where he played football, basketball, and ran track.
Langford became involved in sports mostly for the camaraderie of it all and the opportunity to be with his friends who in large part, all played football. He would soon take note of how some of his friends were able to leverage their athletic abilities to get into various colleges around the country. By his junior year, Langford began to focus more on football and ultimately went on to Michigan State where he played wide receiver, cornerback, and safety before finding his sweet-spot at the running back position.
About this time last year, Langford was at home in Michigan surrounded by his parents, two younger brothers, and a bevy of relatives and close friends who came together for a family barbeque to watch day one of the 2015 NFL Draft unfold.
Round One would come to an end without a phone call. Not knowing when he would get the call, but holding steadfast to his belief that the call would indeed come, family and friends returned for each round to be there to support him whenever the call came through.
The long awaited phone call finally came during the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Where were you when you got the call?
I was outside in my backyard playing basketball with my younger brother and some of my friends. My cell phone was in my pocket when it rang, I saw the Illinois area code but had no idea it was the Bears calling.
What was your (and your family’s) immediate reaction?
I couldn’t believe it. I never thought the Bears would draft a running back. When I walked into the house, my dad and my mom saw me on the phone and instantly began crying. To see where I came from freshman year at Michigan State (redshirt freshman) to get to this point was like a dream come true.
Words of encouragement for this year’s Draft Class.
Make the best of the opportunity, whenever you get your name called or the phone rings, enjoy it because you never know how things will end up.
On the transition from college to the pros.
It’s been a learning lesson. I see the difference in college and the NFL and how much of a business it is and how much of a professional you have to be. Coming in and being behind someone like (running back) Matt Forte and having a (position) coach like Stan Drayton and veterans like (running back) Jacquizz Rodgers in front of me who can show me the way make it easy. I’m learning a lot from these guys and try to be a professional the best way I can.
On stepping into the starter role.
From the first OTA (organized team activity), I came in to get myself prepared. I never knew how much I was going to play, or when I was going to play. I knew when I got a chance to play; I would make the best of the opportunity. When Forte went out, I just wanted to do my best.
On what differentiates him from other running backs.
Versatility. Whether it’s third and short or pass blocking, I can be an every down back.
On his keys to success.
Being motivated by being an underdog. For my whole life, I’ve been the underdog. Nobody thought I could be a starting running back. My faith and always believing in myself are what helps me.
On how he spends his time in the off-season.
Traveling to places I’ve never been. I’ve tried fishing and golfing this year, both new to me. Fishing was a fun experience, it was relaxing to be out on the water and I caught a few fish! Golf, I’m still learning.
The best piece of advice received.
From my dad. He constantly reminds me to believe in myself and keep my faith – he always says ‘if you don't believe in yourself, don't expect someone else to’.
On who inspires him.
My family, especially my dad. My freshman year, when I wasn't playing at all, he came to all of my games. He was my number one fan. To this day, he coaches me and critiques me, which I need. My little brothers, who look up to me and are now getting the same jersey numbers I had, really keeps me motivated.
On what career he would have pursued if football weren’t an option.
I might be a high school coach or social worker. I’d use my degree in Sociology to help young kids be successful.
Steak, Potatoes, and Asparagus.
Favorite Childhood Memory.
Family reunions. Going to Alabama seeing my whole family or having all of the family come to Detroit.
Favorite TV Show.
Martin. I have the entire series.