Well, just a couple of quick things. One, what was the first impression of the playbook and then, two, what kind of relationship did you gather when you were working with WR Brandon Aiyuk last week?
“Yeah, playbook was fun. I’ve been looking forward to learning a new playbook, and obviously it’s an NFL playbook, so it’s going to be a lot. But for me, I’ve been waiting to learn a new playbook for the last, seven eight months. So it was a ton of fun to finally be able to get into it. Me and Brandon got to work together down in Orange County a little bit last week, and it was cool just getting to meet my teammates. That’s been one thing that I’ve been looking forward to, like I said, for the last six, seven months. So it was awesome to be able to get a little bit of work in with him and get to know him a little bit.”
A playbook follow up, how are you guys sort of attacking it this week? How is the rookie class getting into the playbook, taking that kind of first chunk for this for this mini camp?
“Obviously, this is my first time in the NFL, so I would assume that it’s pretty typical as far as how we’re going about it. Obviously, COVID and everything changes it a little bit. But as far as like you said, just taking that first chunk, and I think that’s what we’re doing. Just trying to get better day by day.”
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan told us that when you came out here a couple of weeks ago after the draft, one of the first things he warned you about was the prices of the Bay Area and some of that stuff. I’m wondering what your impressions were once you kind of took a dive into that and just your initial impressions overall of the Bay.
“Yeah, I definitely appreciated the warning. I knew it would be kind of crazy, but it definitely helped giving me a little bit of a heads up. Super excited to get more familiar with the area. Obviously, we’re locked in right now with rookie mini camp and everything like that, but hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be getting to know the guys better that have been here in the area and getting to hang out with them and spend some time with them and, like I said, checking out the area. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
I’m curious about your choice to major in strategic communication. What drew you to that? Did you look forward and say, ‘Hey, I might be an an NFL quarterback and maybe this could help me when I reach that level?’
“For me, strategic communications at North Dakota State is a really broad field. So I was doing that as well as business administration. So for me, I didn’t really know what my plan B was going to be at the time, but knew I needed to obviously do well in school. It was important to me, important to my family. So for me, it was, I thought, an avenue for me to kind of figure out what I do really want to do past football.”
There’s been talk about obviously North Dakota State’s success with the quarterbacks in the pro-style offense that really does help prepare you all for the NFL. You can’t compare it to playing an air-raid system, but just your initial glance at the playbook, do you say like, ‘Hey, there are some wrinkles here?’ I’m not suggesting it’s like, ‘Hey, it’s North Dakota State all over again,’ but do you see wrinkles or concepts or anything else that might be at least a little familiar?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think, with any offense, football is football. Like I said, it’s an NFL playbook, so it’s a lot. I’ve got a lot to learn for sure. But I also have great people around me, great coaches and obviously great guys in the quarterback room. So just looking forward to, like I said, learning from them as much as I possibly can. I’m very thankful for the people at North Dakota State and my coaching staff and the offense that we ran because I think it did help me whether it was just verbiage, or like you said, concepts. It’s putting guys in spots at the end of the day.
Trey, I have two completely unrelated questions. One is, what’s your connection to Santa Clara women’s soccer? And then the other one is, since you’ve gotten here to Santa Clara, did you know any of the rookies that are coming around? Did you meet them in the past? Do you have relationships with them and what’s that process been like for you guys to kind of bond as this 2021 rookie class?
“Santa Clara women’s soccer, one of my quarterback trainers, Quincy Avery, is good friends with their head coach, so he reached out to me. I had watched it previously just by chance. Just turned on the TV on ESPN+ and had seen their game against Clemson and was super excited, obviously, for them and their big win last night against UNC. It well was exciting. It’s been really cool to get to know the other guys. [RB] Trey Sermon is a guy that I knew. We trained together in Pensacola pre-draft for a few months, so he is the guy that I had gotten to know, gotten to hang out with. Other than that, I hadn’t met any of them personally. [WR] Austin Watkins was a guy that I’d watched a ton of film on becuase he played at UAB. Played a couple of teams that I played. So I had seen him play a good amount watching opposing teams’ defenses. So he was another guy that I was obviously super excited about.”
Obviously you’re about to hit the field and have three of these practices, I guess. Has Head Coach Kyle Shanahan or any of the offensive coaches told you what they want from you, like ‘Don’t do this’ or, ‘Hold back. Don’t try to prove everything?’ What are they telling you about what they want to see from you in this mini camp?
“Just excited, excited to see what I can do, excited to learn. Obviously, they have trust in me and believe in me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. So I’m just super thankful, like I said, for the position that I’m in and to be able to be here. All the coaches that you mentioned, our whole offensive staff is really special. So I’m looking forward to just getting out there and competing and hopefully learn as much as I possibly can.”
How much of the playbook would you say you’ve learned at this point, and is there a section of, some concepts, some plays that have been tailored to your specific skillset?
“I don’t really have a percentage for you right now. But I think, like I said, taking it day by day for the first chunk of rookie mini camp and getting as comfortable with that chunk as I possibly can. Like I said, our coaching staff is awesome. Our quarterback room is awesome. So, me being able to just ask as many questions as I possibly can to those guys has been a huge benefit for me.”
Both you and Jimmy are Walter Payton Award winners. I’m wondering, is there any kind of sense of connection there both coming from the FCS, and how has that progressed? I know that he texted you after you were drafted, but how has that relationship progressed since then?
“Yeah, I got to meet him over the last couple of days, which is awesome. Him and the rest of the quarterbacks in the room and they’re awesome. Just awesome personalities, awesome guys to hang around and obviously great football players. So I’m just thankful that these guys are the guys that they are. Jimmy actually said that in his first text to me just, ‘It’s going to be awesome to have another FCS guy in the room.’ So he’s another guy that’s obviously been in a similar position to me, having been where I am. So just looking forward to learning as much as I can from him and, like I said, all the rest of the guys in the room.”
I have two quick ones. I see you have the shirt on, just wondering if you put the jersey on and what that moment was like for you?
“Yeah, we had a walk-through, so I wore my practice jersey a little bit ago. It’s pretty cool. Obviously, I think I’ve kind of gotten past the point where it’s surreal, it’s work now. It was probably cooler the day after the draft and draft day and everything like that. Right now it’s my job, so I’m excited to get to work.”
From what I understand, at North Dakota State you began your career wearing gloves, which was evidently a no-no. Can you discuss, is it true that you could not wear sleeves as a freshmen even in December in Fargo?
“Yeah, I’m sure [Los Angeles Chargers QB] Easton [Stick] told you that. But yeah, North Dakota State, I wore gloves actually in high school when I played quarterback. It was half the weather, half me having to change footballs when we got to playoffs and things like that. Just weird rules in Minnesota with sponsorships and things. Yeah, North Dakota State, your freshman year, your first year on campus, whether you’re a fifth-year grad transfer or whether it’s your first year on campus you’re not allowed to wear sleeves, no leggings. You’re out there suffering, practicing in blizzards and everything like that. It’s just the way it is. If you try to come out in sleeves, the seniors will definitely rip your sleeves off with no hesitation. So, it’s one of those things, kind of an initiation and earning respect. But everyone’s got to go through it, regardless of who you are.”
Just a question about the 3DQB school in Southern California. There was a question about why you started working with them when you did. I’m just wondering, when you were working down there with John Beck and those guys, there’s a bit of a a Kyle Shanahan connection there. Just seeing whether you were looking at the offensive, studying their specific types of plays, that sort of thing, as far back as March and early April?
“Before the draft, it was obviously focusing on me, focusing on my Pro Days. I didn’t know where I was going to be, so there wouldn’t have been a whole lot of benefit for me to try to learn an offense that I didn’t know if I was going to play in or not. But the last few weeks obviously have been awesome, like I said, with this coaching staff, with John and those guys down there. Knowing the offense and having the connections that they do, just super thankful for them and everything they’ve done for me.”
Happy belated birthday, by the way. With this being rookie camp, mini camp, a bunch of first-year players. Would you describe yourself as a vocal leader, a rah-rah guy? Then my second question would be, did you beat Aiyuk in a race?
“We didn’t race. But, I’m super excited to work with these guys. Obviously as my position playing quarterback, I want to be a leader for these guys and be someone that they can lean on and they can ask questions to, regardless of what it is. So I’m just super looking forward to kind of having our group of guys, those rookies coming in, those first-year guys, and hopefully being able to lead them and help them out and get us going in the right direction.”