Following a very busy summer, college life as a student-athlete has begun for West Deptford product Jamil Pollard. His short-lived time at Penn State is becoming more of a distant memory as he continues to settle into his new life at Rutgers.
"Everything has been going great actually, I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was," Pollard said with his trademark smile. "Everyone has made it easy. Coach [Jim] Panagos has been on me non-stop. He's like the college version of my high school coach [West Deptford head coach Clyde Folsom]. Everything is great. The atmosphere has been phenomenal. It just feels great being here."
Pollard was first introduced to the college classroom this summer at Penn State before transferring into Rutgers. But now that the fall semester has started, he's seen those number of classes increase.
Balancing classes with playing college football has made for a very busy September.
"My mind was blown at first. It just felt like the day never ended," Pollard said. "You find a way to pass out at night. After study hall, school, football, it seems like a really long day. "
Pollard has not played in a game this season and will continue to work as part of the scout team on his way to earning a redshirt.
But he expected that even before he arrived at Rutgers.
"This was my plan. Coach Folsom has been talking to me since my junior year about things I should do in college," Pollard said. "He got it through to me and it's a smart idea to get me ready. There are a lot of 3-techniques here and a lot of really good D-tackles. I see them move their hands and they are a lot quicker than me so I was glad to get this year to do what I have to do."
Pollard still does his part day in and day out, practicing against Rutgers' starting offense. He assumes the role of starting defensive tackle on a unit that runs the plays of whichever team Rutgers is facing that week.
In that role, Pollard has helped contribute to the team's undefeated start.
"It's a team effort. Coach Flood makes it a point to recognize that we all play our parts, scout team to starters," Pollard explained. "When I'm working against the starting line with Julian [Pinnix-Odrick], we go hard every single play like we're in a game."
On the field, Pollard has also received a thunderous introduction to the world of college football.
"I expected everyone to hit hard but the first time the left guard Twan [Antwan Lowery] rocked me, I've never been hit like that before," Pollard said. "He came out of nowhere at a full sprint and tossed me off my feet. The physicality of college football will shock every high school player."
Now that Pollard has had the chance to settle into his new life at Rutgers, he's not only welcomed the change but he has also embraced it.
"I love it here. I go home every now and then, I see my family a lot. I saw my brother last week, we were talking. I got him a Rutgers shirt. It's so nice being back here. I love New Jersey."