Michael Pittman Jr. said: "I'm going to run faster than what a lot of people are saying about me ... I think I'm going to shock people."
Okay, well, what will shock people, and what are they thinking you'll run? We all know the 40-yard dash time is the most viral stat that comes from measurement testing throughout the NFL draft process. But for the USC wide receiver, it's not just a number, it's a chance to prove something to people.
To prove he has the juice.
Anytime you're the son or daughter of someone famous from the very sport you play, the spotlight is going to be on you sooner and brighter than it would be for anyone else.
Pittman Jr.'s father, Pittman Sr., was a former fourth-round pick from the 1998 NFL Draft. After being selected by the Atlanta Falcons where he had a three-year stint, Pittman Sr. spent most of his career in Tampa Bay where he was part of the franchise's first and only Super Bowl victory.
So now Pittman Jr. isn't just a son of a former player, he's the son of a former Super Bowl champion.
That motivation, in its own way, is juice.
Though they don't play the same position, Pittman Jr.'s family background becomes evident when you start to hear him speak. At the 2020 Senior Bowl, he was asked what he looks for in a cornerback when he's lined up across the line of scrimmage.
Pittman Jr. made it sound like he's been answering that question since he was four years old.
“The first thing that I’m looking for is if he’s a lateral corner or if he’s a shuffle corner," he said. "Is his first step going to [be back] or is he going to shuffle? It also depends if I know he’s a ‘bitter’ or if he’ll step and hold. It really just depends on the individual.”
Pittman Jr. saved his best colligate year for last. The former 4-star wideout accumulated 1,275 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns — numbers that nearly doubled his previous career-bests.
The NFL noticed, but so did Pittman Jr.
One drawback to being a coach's, or player’s, kid is that you always have your eyes on the furthest destination; the highest marks. Such a mindset is extremely motivating. It is likely an element of your preparation that keeps you going, but it can also be dangerous if you don't keep it in check. Pittman Jr. reflected on as much when asked about his performance versus Iowa.
“That was not my best outing," Pittman Jr. said. "I was having a hard time focusing because I was already thinking about the next step (the NFL), which is my fault. I should have been more ready and more focused.”
Though it was a time in the season Pittman Jr. would like to have back that realization shows maturity; the kind of maturity instilled a selfless attitude, no matter what it is he's doing.
“[I want people to see] I’m a positive guy, and I lead by my actions," Pittman Jr. said. "I’m a team guy and I’m always willing to work with anybody whether it’s the top starter, the rookie, the janitors, the people who make meals for us, I’m willing to work with everybody.”
Though I can't speak to helping the janitors, I did hear Pittman Jr. talk about his work on special teams, something often considered "dirty work." Pitman smiled about it when he was asked. During the Senior Bowl media luncheon, he talked about his technique when it came to blocking punts — something he did four times in his career.
“I’m relentless and then I don’t quit," he told to Chris Hayre of the Los Angeles Chargers. "So, whether it happens in the beginning [of the game] or happens in the end of the game, I’m just gonna get you — and I’m just gonna keep coming.”
That is the juice.
Pittman Jr. didn't waste any time showing his stuff during the first practice of the week. As one of the taller receivers in the group, cornerbacks who went up against him braced themselves to get beat with length and strength. What they didn't know was that the 6-foot-3, 219-pound Pittman Jr. was going to beat them with quick feet and long strides all day.
Can't say he didn't warn you. He made it clear he was going to shock people.
That — that right there — is juice.