NFL Draft Q&A: WR Jacoby Ford

Jacoby Ford's experience as a national track champion should give him an edge in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but he's ready to show much more than just speed while he's in Indianapolis this week. Learn more Clemson's all-purpose star in this exclusive interview with's Ed Thompson.

Jacoby Ford answers additional questions in this two-minute audio clip exclusively for subscribers. Ford talks about scoring five different ways for Clemson, his attributes will make him stand out at the NFL Combine, and more:

Ed Thompson: You went to Fort Union Military Academy. I imagine that was a different experience than most guys have before coming to Clemson.

Jacoby Ford: Yeah, it definitely was different for me.  I went to a private high school first and graduated from there. Then I had a post-graduate semester and enrolled at Fort Union Military for the first semester of 2005.  I was able to play football there and just had to work on my SAT scores to get them up to match my GPA so I could be Division I eligible.

Thompson: Did you find going through that experience and environment at Fort Union was beneficial for you in other ways?

Ford: It was definitely beneficial to me. I felt myself grow as an individual and I had a whole new outlook on life, of being appreciative of everything I had growing up, and it made me more humble.  It changed my whole attitude towards everything I did back home. I was grateful for everything I had leading up to that point. 

Thompson: Talk about growing up and your family life.

Ford: I'm the baby of the family.  I have two older brothers--Davey, who played at Florida State and Zoey, he's the oldest, he passed away when I was younger from a mental illness.  My parents, Patricia and Davey Ford, are still together, they've been married for thirty years.  I live in Royal Palm Beach, Florida down here in the Sunshine State.  We're just a regular family. We go out a lot and took a lot of vacations when we were younger, but they tapered down because everyone went off to school. I was the baby of the house, so I was kind of spoiled growing up.

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Thompson: Why do you think you were a little spoiled?

Ford: I usually got everything I wanted.  Everything I asked my mom and dad for, they found a way to get it.  They just babied me growing up. I'm nine years younger than my second-oldest brother.

Thompson: You mentioned losing one of your brothers. I imagine that had to be a pretty profound moment in your life. How old were you at the time and how did you handle that loss?

Ford: It was tough, but it was probably tougher for my other brother because he was with him a lot longer. I was a lot younger but still knew what was going on.  It was definitely tough to lose a brother at such a young age, but my second-oldest brother Dave just took it as a blessing that I was even born. I was his angel and was like Zoey's twin because me and Zoey looked exactly alike.  So my brother took me up under his wing and treats me like his son more than anything.  I would say my second brother is more like a dad to me because he's done so much for me while I was at school and when he was at Florida State.  He used to take me up there with him for the whole summer just hanging out with him, getting accustomed to college life.  I grew up at a young age, really fast, so I wasn't a typical eleven year-old or nine year-old. It was a lot different for me growing up.

Thompson: You had an incredible career at Clemson--4,086 career all-purpose yards and you finished no worse than eighth all-time at Clemson in all of your different categories from catches to receiving yards to kick return, punt return, and you tied for fourth in career touchdown catches. As you look back on all of your accomplishments are there any that you're most proud of?

Ford: I think the thing I'm most proud of is walking out of Clemson with a Sociology degree. That would probably be the thing that will stick with me all of the time.  As far as fans, I'm sure Clemson fans will probably remember me for the Miami game when I made the touchdown catch to win the game.

Thompson: You finished your degree last fall. Why did you choose Sociology?

Ford: I'm a really social person. I've always tried to be involved with society and help out anyway I can. For instance, I speak to kids at schools who might have a problem--maybe they have a bad attitude or tend to get in trouble.  I just always want to have a different outlook on life, the way people are perceived through gender, those are the things that got me interested in that department, so that's another reason I went along with it.

Thompson: You posted 494 career rushing yards. How much different is it to find yourself running with the ball behind the line of scrimmage versus catching the ball and taking off downfield like you usually do?

Ford: I would have had a lot more yards than that, but I had about four or five runs of over sixty yards get called back.  I had bad luck with that sometimes. I had a 63-yard run called back for a clip and at NC State I had a 77-yard run that got called back because they said James Davis hit the guy too hard.  It wasn't an illegal hit, he just hit him too hard--which is weird, I've never heard of anything like that.  Being behind the line of scrimmage is definitely different.  You have to have a lot of patience and whenever you do see a hole, you have to explode through it, make one move and get all of the yards you can.  I liked being back there in a running back situation.

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Thompson: In the 2009 Gator Bowl, you had 112 yards and five catches. What do you remember as you think back on that game?

Ford: I had a lot of emotion built up before that game because I had just lost a good friend of mine--he passed away due to bone marrow cancer.  His name was Dandre Butler and I was kind of playing that game for him. I had put his name on my eye black and I felt like he was there with me. Everything I was doing was what he wanted me to do.  So I was just out there playing for him and trying to help my team as much as possible.

Thompson: When you were having another terrific season for Clemson in 2009, were you keeping an eye on Minnesota Vikings rookie Percy Harvin who came out of LSU last year as a multi-talented speedster like you? And if so, what were your impressions of him?

Ford: I definitely watched a game every time I could--I wanted to see how well he would do in any situation he was put in.  I loved the way he matured throughout the whole season, that helps out guys like me that can be versatile and do things anytime they get the ball in their hands whether it be special teams or running and catching.  He had a very good year and got Rookie of the Year, which is a great feat.  My hat goes off to him and I wish him the best in the rest of his NFL career.

Thompson: As you're training for the Combine, how much of an edge does your background as a national track champion give you in understanding technique and how to run a timed event?

Ford: I think it helps out a lot because I don't have to stress about running the 40.  A lot of people put a lot of stress on themselves about running the 40, and I don't think anybody should ever stress about running.  Running should always just be second nature to you. You can take a few hints here and there, but in the end, whoever's teaching you the little techniques can't get in your body and run for you.  Anybody who tries to teach me how to run, I'll listen a little bit, but I definitely know how to run from going through two different track coaches--which I had to do when I was at Clemson--and I gained a lot of knowledge from them.  When it comes down to it, I can teach anyone to run a 40 and can give them the tools to be successful and run a good time.

Thompson: Are there any other areas you've been focusing on that isn't as familiar to you?

Ford: I'm trying to do really well in all of the receiver drills that we'll have to participate in.  I want to make a good impression, catch the ball well and run really good routes so nobody will have any doubts about my football skills.  I want to get rid of the perception that I'm a track guy who can play football, when it's really the other way around--I'm a football guy who just so happens to know how to run track.

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You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter (@Ed_Thompson). A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at

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