FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Buster Skrine may not be the biggest player of the New York Jets secondary or even their defense, but the cornerback won't be outworked or for that matter, out-lifted.
It's how he went from an underlooked recruit in high school to getting one of the highest paying contracts of any cornerback in last offseason's free agency frenzy. It was a willingness to work harder than anyone else.
Not one BCS program recruited Skrine coming out of Etowah High School in Woodstock, GA, this despite rushing for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns during a senior season where he was named Cherokee County's player of the year. He ended up at UT-Chattanooga, a program that was 1-11 during his sophomore year. Not one recruiting service had him ranked either nationally or in the state of Georgia. He was overlooked and underappreciated.
But he wouldn't be outworked.
He left Chattanooga as a captain his senior season and with some legitimate NFL aspirations after twice being named first-team all-conference. Outside of Terrell Owens in 1998, Chattanooga wasn't known for sending talent to the NFL. But then, most of his teammates didn't share his commitment to getting better.
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He graduated high school at 140 pounds and by the time he walked off the field at Chattanooga he was 174 pounds of muscle. At the NFL Combine, he opened eyes.
He ran a 4.37 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine to go along with a 6.44 time in the three-cone drill, the best in combine history. But in college he one-time infamously ran a 4.22 time.
He currently weighs in at 188 pounds but he says he can beat that 40-time.
"I think I'm getting faster," Skrine told Metro.
"I'm not sure what I can get now, not sure. A 4.2- something. I'm still in the 4.2s, I know that. But I think I'm faster now."
And nothing has changed now that he is in the NFL or with the Jets, all of which led Jets head coach Todd Bowles last week to praise Bowles for his work ethic and commitment in the weight room.
Hard work, it turns out, is a family affair.
Skrine's little brother is his training companion, a 19-year old who played basketball and football in high school. They'll sprint together, run the bleachers at a high school stadium and do agility drills. Six days a week – they take Sunday off – they will lift for a couple hours and run for about an hour-and-a-half.
"Everybody is always like 'You're too strong to be that small' but I've been strong since high school," Skrine said.
"I've always enjoyed working hard. I've had to with everything. I wasn't really recruited hard out of high school and then I had to prove myself to the guys here [in the NFL]. It was hard work that got me here and hard work is going to keep me."
"I've always been a hard worker, one of the guys in the weight room , running, right when the season ended. No real time off. It's something I take seriously, the practice field, the weight room. Doing the right things. We have a lot of great leaders on this team, I want to be one who leads by doing things the right way."