Brampton’s Jamaal Westerman came into his second NFL training camp having to impress his superiors yet again.
And proving that lightning can strike the same place twice, the 25-year-old turned enough heads to earn a roster spot with the New York Jets.
After playing his way onto the team last year, Westerman made eight tackles in three preseason games this summer, including one sack.
His performance has caught the attention of head coach Rex Ryan.
“He’s done a tremendous job. He’s really stood out,” said Ryan to newyorkjets.com. “When we put the third group out there, the guy dominated. He’s doing well.
“He’s doing well on special teams as well.”
Westerman was born in New York before moving to Florida to begin his high school football career.
But his family ultimately moved to Brampton where Westerman attended Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School, home of the Knights
His rise to the pros began there when he led the league in sacks and tackles his senior year.
That success carried with him to Rutgers, where the 6-foot-3 defensive specialist finished his college career with 26 sacks, good enough for third-best in school history.
Now, Westerman is soaking up the experience of being a pro, but remains steadfast in his pursuit to be the best player he can be.
“Hopefully I just take the opportunities that I’m getting and make the best of it,” said Westerman to newyorkjets.com. “Get my technique down perfect, play hard, work hard, and just try and get better because there’s a lot of guys there [competing for the same roster spot.]”
Such an opportunity has come calling as starting outside linebacker Calvin Pace has gone down with injury and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Coach Ryan has already said backup Jason Taylor will take over starting duties, meaning Westerman will have the opportunity to see more playing time as early as the home opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Road to the NFL
Getting to the point of suiting up in the home opener for an NFL team has been a long journey for this former Notre Dame Knight.
At one point in college, it even looked like he wouldn’t even have a chance to make a practice roster.
In his fifth and final year with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Westerman injured his left bicep, forcing him to miss the last part of the season, including a bowl game.
He underwent surgery to repair his arm and his college career was over.
Such an ending left Westerman as more than an afterthought as he was not taken in the 2009 draft.
Being looked over was not what the Knight had in mind after graduation.
“I worked very hard to get myself in condition,” said Westerman to nj.com in rookie camp in 2009. “Was I disappointed to not get drafted? Yeah. A little. But now it’s time to show people who I am and what I can do.”
And after being signed by the Jets prior to the 2009 season and with expectations for more playing time this year, Westerman has shown that he belongs in the NFL after all.