Insider Exclusive: Q&A with FB Jacob Hester

FB Jacob Hester (Chris Graythen/Getty)'s Michael Kranzler continues his one-on-one with Jacob Hester, this time for Insiders only. The Chargers' third-round pick talks about replacing Lorenzo Neal and living up to the pre-draft hype. He also makes a promise to Chargers fans: "I won't disappoint them for trading up to get me."

Michael Kranzler: A.J. Smith seems to have drafted you to replace the production of two important players from last season, running back Michael Turner and fullback Lorenzo Neal. What can you do as a player to fill in and make the most of the responsibilities as both a running back and fullback?

Jacob Hester: It's going to be tough to replace Lo'. He's one of the greatest fullbacks of all time. I'm not going to try to do what he did. I'm a little bit different of a player than him, so I'm just going to come in and do the best that I can. I'll be playing two positions, so I'll definitely have to have my mind on the game at all times and really learn my playbook. It's tough to learn the plays as a rookie, but I don't have the luxury of waiting. I've got to learn two positions and learn them quickly.

MK: Much has been made about LaDainian Tomlinson mentoring you on the field. What exactly has he been helping you with and how much of a difference does it make?

JH: When you're a rookie, you're going to mess up, you're going to make mistakes and you're going to do stuff that's not quite right. Anytime I'm on the field and there's something I'm not quite understanding from the coaches, he'll explain it from a player's perspective and really break it down and say "here's what you need to do." He doesn't have to do that. Veterans can go about their business, but he's really taken the time to help all of us rookie running backs.

MK: What is it like being reunited on the Chargers with a former teammate in Buster Davis? Has he given you any advice about being a rookie or anything else?

FB Jacob Hester
Alex Brandon/AP

JH: It's good. Me and Buster had a good relationship at LSU, so it was really good to come here and have somebody who you can always go to and talk with who you feel comfortable with. Even if you've got friends on the team, you've only known them for a couple of weeks, so to know somebody for four or five years, it's always good to go and get advice and pick his brain a bit and ask him what to expect and everything else about your rookie year. It's been good to have him here.

MK: Speaking of former teammates, what was it like playing with John David Booty in high school? Who do you think is going to have a more successful rookie year between the two of you?

JH: [Laughing] Oh, that's tough. He's a great quarterback, obviously, and it made my job as a running back easier when teams had to pay attention to him. We still remain really good friends. He was actually in my wedding. We remain very close and he's in a great situation, just like I am. We've both got a chance to play a lot of football if we do the right things and work hard. Hopefully, he can get a chance to get in there and show them what he's all about.

MK: As good friends, do you think there should be any sort of wager on the season between the two of you?

JH: [Laughing] I don't know, I haven't signed anything yet, so I don't have any money to wager.

MK: Every year around the time of the draft, draft experts like to talk about how certain prospects may not have tested especially well at the NFL Combine, but that they are just "football players." How do you feel about that sort of analysis, which has also already come from teammates such as Philip Rivers?

JH: The Combine doesn't really have anything to do with football. It's just something that you do, almost like a track meet. I did have some success at the Combine on my bench press and my shuttles, but that's not what makes you a football player. I'm not a flashy guy. I'm not going to wow you with this and that, but hopefully I can just come here and work hard and be a football player.

MK: Mike Nolan of the San Francisco 49ers was extremely high on you before the draft. What does it mean to you to hear from an NFL head coach that he "would be shocked if [you] were not a damn good player"?

JH: That meant a lot. He was my coach down there at the Senior Bowl and I got a chance to really get to know him. He's a great coach and an even better guy, and for him to say that, it's one of the biggest honors I've received. Hopefully, I can live up to that. He's a respected guy, so hopefully I can live up to his words. I haven't played a down yet, so I've got to keep working to get there.

MK: Is there anything that you want to say to all the Chargers fans out there or that you would want them to know about you?

JH: I just want them to know that I'm going to work my tail off and I won't disappoint them for trading up to get me.

Click here for the rest of this interview, where Hester talks about finding his niche in the offense, making an impact on special teams, and pursuing the championship trifecta. Recommended Stories

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