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Notes: Jeff Okudah guests on Glover Quin’s show ‘The DB Room’

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The underdog Lions need Jeff to be Jefe

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 Big Ten Championship Game - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Detroit safety Glover Quin interviewed the team’s most recent first-round pick Jeff Okudah on The DB Room. While split screen video of the interview was posted to YouTube, be advised there were technical difficulties with this new format (Quin’s regular videos are just fine) and there are major audio balance issues that make it tough to watch. Quin’s volume is extremely low while Okudah’s volume is very high, so viewers can either keep adjusting the volume every time the person talking changes or learn to live with blown speakers.

The interview has some fun moments, though, and we learn:

The former Buckeye’s high school “wasn’t necessarily known for football, but through playing other schools that were,” Okudah felt he had opportunities to develop and improve early on. The best player he went against in Texas high school football: While a freshman at South Grand Prairie High School, Okudah was once assigned to block Myles Garrett in punt protection. “He was a senior, and I didn’t know who he was at the time. . . I was kind of naive, and tried to throw my shoulder into him. He just threw me out of the way, smashed the punt - touchdown.”

The defensive players at Ohio State were very competitive among themselves, but also felt very strongly about supporting each other in the move up to the NFL. Okudah says he was actually more curious about where some of his teammates would be picked rather than read too much into what was being said about himself leading up to the draft. With Chase Young at Ohio State, the two of them would good-naturedly go back and forth about who was the “President” and who was the “Vice-President” of the defense. “So, seeing how we would push each other, and seeing how his career went, it was just really cool to see how we ended up being (pick) 2 and (pick) 3.”

When asked by Quin to come up with one player whose play style he admires, Okudah named Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. “I think it’s really calculated, really cerebral.” Okudah has named Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, and Gilmore as current pros he tries to emulate, but the mental aspect he draws from Gilmore may be the most important.

Okudah is a handshake guy, and says he probably got it from watching the Cavaliers, “LeBron, you know he has all types of handshakes. So, just watching that and how tight knit everyone looked, I just started getting handshakes with everybody. By the end of my time at Ohio State, I had a handshake with the defensive coordinator, training coaches, almost the whole defense.” Expect to see it in the coming years: “The handshake is something that is real serious. Before the games. After the games.”

According to the new Lion, an oft-replayed interception he made against Nebraska while flat on his back on the ground was actually the result of an intentional move. “That play, we’re in cover 3 right there and my guy ran a post. I saw they had number 1 (Nebraska WR Wan’Dale Robinson) in the backfield and he kind of released out and ran a corner route I believe, or an over route. Everyone thinks I fell down, but really I saw it as he’s coming across and I knew that the only way I would get it is if I dropped. . . I had so much momentum going the opposite way, I just dropped and tried to catch it.”

As for the “Free Jefe” tagline? Okudah says it was a small change to simply drop the second “f” in his name and add an “e,” to turn into Jefe. An unidentified Ohio State coach gave him a pre-game pep talk:

“I don’t need you to be Jeff anymore, I need you to be Jefe. That’s who you need to be. I need that swagger.” So, going forward everyone started saying “Free Jefe.” And it just stuck. Everyone liked it and it just stuck. I think it was kind of natural because Jefe and Jeff sound so similar.

Finally, his favorite memory from high school football may bode well for Lions fans.

“In my junior year, we played Euless Trinity, who was a top 3 team in the whole country. We were underdogs coming into the game. They were supposed to win State. It was kind of weird because the way high school football works, no one expected us to win. But we beat them on a last-second field goal, and that was really special to me because that was something that the whole town was really proud of. A lot of guys transferred to different high schools to try and form powerhouses, but I went (to Grand Prairie) with bunch of guys I’ve known since middle school. We did something special, and that’s something we can always talk about.”

Underdogs? Last-second field goal? Sounds about right.

And now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • Hat tip to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein for pointing this one out:

  • Not Lions-related, but absolutely Detroit-related: