Ten(ish) Questions With … is a weekly series where we chat with a Detroit Lions player or coach about whatever. Sometimes it’ll be football related. Sometimes, it’ll be about their dogs or something completely different. Want to hear from a particular subject, send an email to Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jerome Couplin is an interesting character. He has a nickname he had little control over -- "The Osprey" -- and did things the somewhat hard way, climbing from little-known high school prospect to FCS star and now at the bottom again as an undrafted free agent trying to make the team.
The safety has had some success thus far, playing with the second unit last week and at least putting himself in position for a shot at a roster spot. I caught up with Couplin earlier this week to chat about his chances, his nickname and more.
*Some answers were edited for space and clarity.
Q: They were giving you a long look on the second team. Did that give you a feeling like, "Wow, I might actually have a shot at this thing?"
JC: “Honestly, this whole time they’ve been telling us it’s a rep chart, not a depth chart.”
Q: But you’ve been around football long enough…
JC: “Yeah, the more reps, the better, don’t get me wrong. The more reps you get, the more you can develop, the more you learn. You learn by being out there between the lines and getting a feel for things yourself. But it definitely gives me the understanding there is the fair competition there and I’ll get my chance. That’s all I can ever ask for at the end of the day.”
Q: When you’re looking at colleges, how do you end up at an FCS school? With your measurements, it would seem a FBS school would have taken a chance.
JC: “I was a late bloomer so I didn’t have the outstanding junior year that most people have when they get scholarships. I had a lot of teams looking at me going into my senior year. I had a real good year my senior year, but nobody would really pull the trigger. Or there was a coaching change situation where a coach who was recruiting me leaves, so I lose contact. After my senior year, I finished with a bunch of FCS offers and went down my list with my family and researched what was best for me. At the end of the day, William & Mary I felt would be the best pick and I don’t regret it. I would have loved to have gone to a big school, but I’m proud to say I’m part of the Tribe.”
Q: Did any FBS schools offer you?
JC: “Nah. Nope. Zero.”
Q: Being here now, ever say, see, someone should have?
JC: “I had that mindset in college so when we played a big I-A team, my mindset was to show that I belong on this field. I’m not undersized. … I could play at that level. Honestly, a lot of people told me playing against West Virginia last year and the way I played, that helped a lot. So, I didn’t get drafted, I’m undrafted, but at the same time, I’m here. So regardless of drafted or undrafted, big school or not, I have been told if you can play football, they’ll find you and they found me.”
Q: Where does The Osprey nickname come from?
JC: “Andrew Goodman, he writes for Forbes. After my pro day, it happened. He looked and was like, these numbers are ridiculous, how in the world did you not get invited to the combine, this and that. … It was nothing I did. I didn’t know about the nickname until after (the story) was released. So I didn’t know about it. It’s not like it’s something people have called me from being younger or in college. It’s something that just recently developed and just go with the flow. I can kind of understand it. I’ve always had long arms, so it’s not the first thing somebody has picked on me about.”
Q: Were you like what? Did you know what type of bird an Osprey was?
JC: “Honestly, I knew more about the aircraft than the actual bird. So I looked it up and he was like, ‘Yeah, man, your arms are so freakishly long. It’s ridiculous. Then you can get off the ground and you can jump, so it works both ways.’ I was like, ‘OK, cool, just go with it.’ “
Q: Has it always been the long arms?
JC: “Yeah. High school, even the beginning of college, I used to be able to scratch my knees without bending over. I didn’t have to slouch over. I’m a little taller now than when I was in college. But it was definitely, people messed with me since Day 1.”
Q: Is that the quirkiest thing you do?
JC: “My family has a history of being loose jointed so I can maneuver my body a little bit. I can put my thumb [on my wrist]. It doesn’t even hurt.”
Q: So, you going to be a contortionist as a hobby?
JC: “Nah. I don’t try to figure out what more I can do. I broke a finger once in high school and they were like how does your wrist feel stretching it. I stretched it and they were like, hold on, do it again. So I learned from injury, actually.”
Q: So ... is that the quirkiest thing?
JC: “Yeah, and the freakishly long arms. [Jason Jones] actually said something to me at practice. I was just standing there by the coach and he was like, ‘Man, your arms are so long.’ But, it comes in handy.”