Not long after the Tennessee Titans made Jack Conklin their first pick on Thursday night, both the team and Conklin talked about how the Michigan State offensive tackle was the right fit for both Conklin and the Titans.
The Titans are as excited about Conklin’s character as they are about his football skills, according to general manager Jon Robinson.
“When Coach (Mike) Mularkey and I set out three months ago, we talked about building a tough, team-first, accountable football team and we were able to add a player last night to this roster that embodies everything that Tennessee Titan football is gonna be about,” Robinson said. “He is an outstanding football player, but more importantly for us, he is an outstanding young man. He is gonna represent this football team, his family, the Tennessee Titan family, the city of Nashville proud.”
Conklin, who is from the small town of Treadwell, Mich., (population 4,000), was a walk-on at Michigan State, but worked himself into an All-American and the eighth overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Conklin said he hopes to create a identity with the Titans, who are in a rebuilding mode.
“That’s really what I fell in love with here when on my visit was that they’re trying to build, trying to build a team that other teams are going to look at on the schedule and say, ‘Crap, we’ve got to play these guys. They’re gonna pound us the whole game. My body is going to hurt after this game,” Conklin said. “That’s what I’ve been all about at Michigan State the past four years. That’s what’s been built into me and that’s why I’m excited to be here.”
Mularkey is excited about the intensity he expects Conklin to bring to a much maligned offensive line that is getting a makeover in the off-season with the additions of Conklin and free agent center Ben Jones.
“We’re thrilled to have a player of his caliber who plays with the intensity that he plays with. I’ve been reaching that since I’ve been coaching. He’s a football player. He loves the game,” Mularkey said.
As for why he believed the rebuilding Titans, who have won five games the past two years, were a better fit than a team already with a established winning tradition.
“It really felt like when I came to Michigan State actually. My first year there we were 7-6 and the next year we won the Rose Bowl,” Conklin said. “It’s really not about what happened the year before. It’s about the guys who get together and about the people you have together. … If you get guys who are really working hard and are gonna buy into that, championships are gonna come from that. That’s what I felt here and that’s what I felt at Michigan State. That’s immediately why I felt like I wanted to be a Titan.”