Even before he was drafted by the Jets, Tommy Bohanon was getting advice from an NFL executive on how to develop into a better player. He always stood there humbly, willing to listen and learn. It was a good move on his part as it turns out that executive is now his boss -- Jets general manager John Idzik.
Bohanon counts Brad Idzik, the son of the Jets general manager, as not just a teammate in college at Wake Forest but also as a friend. The two are so close that Brad was at his NFL Draft party this past April and he chuckles when he remembers receiving a call from the Jets and talking with John Idzik about being drafted while his son stood just feet away.
During his senior year, Bohanon got advice from the elder Idzik, who at that time was an executive with the Seahawks. The two used to bump into each other from time to time and Bohanon was always keen to listen to whatever advice was offered. He took advantage of his friendship with Brad to continue to grow as a player.
“He could definitely tell me a few pointers here or there if he saw something he liked or if I did something that I needed to improve,” Bohanon told Metro. “He was very rarely there because he was at Seattle. When he would be there he’d say, ‘Hey, if you’re doing this, you can work on these things and stuff like that.’
“It’s definitely a special thing to play for a great guy like Mr. Idzik.”
Bohanon was not only drafted by the Jets but looks likely to emerge from preseason as their starting fullback.
He says his head isn’t spinning, but an awful lot has come quickly for Bohanon, who has supplanted Lex Hilliard atop the depth chart.
“Lex is a great player and we have a great running back room all together so it is surprising,” Bohanon said. “I’m very grateful to be in this position, [to] come in and play a lot in the preseason and everything.”
One part of his game that is emerging is his blocking, something that is a surprise to many people. Wake Forest often operated out of the spread offense which emphasizes more of a pass-catching role for the fullback. But on Saturday night in the second preseason game, Bohanon repeatedly picked up on his blocking assignments to great effect. He even delivered a crushing hit or two.
Early in Monday’s practice session, Bohanon picked up on a blitzing Calvin Pace, leveraging his pads and standing up the veteran outside linebacker. Pace was stopped dead in his tracks, unable to get at quarterback Geno Smith. It is the product again of Bohanon showing a willingness to listen and learn.
Either before or after practice, Bohanon will spend 15 minutes, and sometimes up to a half-hour, working with running back coach Anthony Lynn in a piece of equipment known as the training chute. While it looks like a trampoline, the training chute’s value comes when a player is under it. Bohanon has to squat down to run under it all the while keeping the proper pad level. If he stands up his helmet will hit the top of the equipment. When he emerges from under it – and the training chute can be set-up for a run as short as just a couple of yards up to 15 yards - Bohanon will either hit a blocking sled or have to sidestep a series of cones.
It helps teach him how to keep his pad level right as he gets ready to hit.
“I definitely think it is something that people don’t appreciate as much because of playing at Wake and being in the spread a lot. But I feel that’s something that I’ve been working on and it has progressed very well,” Bohanon said.
“First you have to have great pad level and have to have great technique and that’s nine-tenths [of blocking]. The other one-tenth is having the want to do it and going in there and putting your head in there and wanting to knock the other guy over.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.