006 : The Player Experience - Blake Cashman

Blake Cashman.PNG

Blake Cashman hails from Minnesota and has made his way from a walk-on in the Big Ten all the way to starting for the New York Jets in the National Football League. We are incredibly fortunate to share his knowledge with competitors at every level and in every discipline. Read up and check out Blake’s social media to learn more about what he’s up to @blockayyyWhat do you play, where have you played, and what has your experience been like?

I play linebacker for the New York Jets. Former linebacker at the University of Minnesota. My experience at both the D1 and professional level has been amazing. It’s not always easy balancing life outside of the demands of football at such a high level, but the joy I have playing the game and the relationships I’ve made with my teammates and coaches makes it all well worth it.

Why football?

Football has always been my favorite sport. In my opinion, it’s the ultimate team game, and I think that’s why I love it so much. You have to put so much work into it such a short season that it makes you appreciate the grind so much more.

What has your training looked like throughout your playing career? What does it look like right now?

It hasn’t changed much from college to the NFL. At the end of the day football is football and the necessary steps to prepare for it don’t really change. I would say now that I’m a professional and there’s always jobs on the line, you definitely have to listen to your body more and not push even the smallest aches and pains. Unlike college, you can’t afford injuries in the pros. My training now is really focused on maintaining my body rather than trying to get bigger or putting on more strength. I’ve already put in the work in college to get to my desired strength and speed. Now it’s about maintenance and health.

Tell us what a typical day in the life looks like as a professional football player.

Well, off season compared to in season is night and day. In season, the days can get long. First day of game prep during the week is usually a 7-7 hour day. It involves weight lifting in the morning, meetings on prepping for your opponent, practice, recovery, then more meetings analyzing the film from practice. Out of season you’re responsible for designing your own schedule which means figuring out where you’re going to train since you can’t really do it with your team. I do speed/conditioning and lifting 4 days a week in the mornings, then the rest of day I’m free to do what I want. Some guys get really involved with exploring career options post football career which I think is a great idea.

What was a major hurdle for you to play D1 football at a top conference? Pro football?

The biggest challenge going from high school to college was building my body. Every high school kid needs to get significantly stronger and usually has to put on more weight. An 18 year old body fresh off senior year  can’t compete with a 22/23 year old senior body. In the NFL, the biggest leap was just being discipline about spending extra time doing recovery work. As you age your body works against you and the game at the professional level is faster and more physical so you have to get your body back feeling good for the next day. In college you can get away with not doing recovery things such as cold tubbing.

What are your goals going forward? Where do you want to be in 1 year?

Going forward, in a short term perspective, I want to be a solidified NFL starter and finish my season healthy. I’ve already had 4 surgeries post season. I don’t want to spend my off season’s doing rehab for an injury.

What are the obstacles to you meeting your goals?

My biggest obstacles is my competition/my own teammates. I need to become a smarter football, as well as a healthier football player. Also, knowing that my speed is my biggest advantage, I need to keep that so really focusing on speed training and agility is key.

What was the best thing about playing football at your school?

Best thing about playing football at Minnesota was the friendships I made with my teammates. The brotherhood bond is what makes the ride so enjoyable.

Over your career, who are some teammates you really enjoyed playing with?

I admired a lot of my teammates. A couple guys that stick out in my mind are Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Carter Coughlin. Body was a senior and really paved the way for me and the other freshman my first year. He showed us how to work and be a leader. And playing with Carter was awesome because we grew up together so it was cool to go on and play together at the D1 level as well.

Who do you love to watch or who model your play after?

I love to watch Eric Kendricks on the Vikings. Besides being an all-pro, I think he is a linebacker that plays with his hair on fire which is fun to see guys like that that play with so much passion. He also is a great coverage linebacker which you don’t see very often in the NFL.

Who inspired you to play?

My dad inspired me to play. He put a ball in my hands right as I could walk. We used to watch football every Saturday and Sunday, and then go out and play in the back yard after the games. I fell in love with the game right away.

How can you describe the recruiting process for college, and the draft process into professional sports?

I was a walk on so I didn’t have much of a college recruiting process, but as a high school recruit you have to blast your film out there on social media and send it to schools. Schools will start reaching out to you if they’re interested and you’ll go on visits which are pretty fun. You get to see the school, the athletic facilities, meet the coaches and some players, and even attend a game or get treated to a 5 star meal.

At the pro level it involves a lot of training for combine testing and then you spend a lot of time doing interviews with different representatives from teams whether it be on the phone, FaceTime, in person, etc. The pre draft process is a great experience, but it’s very overwhelming and exhausting.

What tools and resources did you lean on to further your success?

I spent the necessary time in the weight room. The weight room is essential for building your body up and staying healthy. I also listened to my coaches and did what I was asked/told. Coaches (most coaches) want what’s best for you so they’ll help you in any area that they think needs improvement for your success.

What is a piece of advice you’d want a young player coming through the ranks to know?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail early and fail a lot. It only will help you grow. All the criticism and praise you receive as a player take with a grain of a salt. It’s all just noise. Lastly, spend extra time in the weight and film room, even if it’s only 15 minutes. It will pay dividends.