INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WJMN) – Surrounded by his family and friends on Day 3 of the NFL draft, Northern Michigan’s Jake Witt eagerly awaited a phone call that would change his life. Witt saw his draft stock skyrocket during the pre-draft process. He firmly placed his name on the NFL radar after posting eye-popping numbers during workouts in the months leading up to draft day.
“Draft Day was stressful but exciting for sure,” said Witt. “I was watching rounds four and five and I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I’m looking at the tackles getting taken off the board. Round six comes around and I’m like, ‘Okay, this is where things can get real right?’ So, I’m sitting there and it was pretty darn stressful at this point. Round six, the beginning of round seven, you know we started getting calls from teams that didn’t have any selections in those rounds that wanted to put their offer on the table in case I went to free agency. So, every time I got a call I’m like, ‘Oh man, is this it?’ But it turned out whether it be my agent or another team calling in that capacity.”
Witt’s phone rang again, and just as he was about to write it off as another false alarm, he noticed this call was different.
“It was funny with this call, like every other call would have either the area code and a number without a name. This one actually said in all caps, ‘INDIANPOLIS COLTS.’ So, I’m like, ‘Oh, boy this might be the real one.’ So, I picked it up my heart was pounding. It was funny, we looked at the Fitbit heart rate tracker after the fact and it was jumping up to like 140 bpm around that time. So, I picked it up and I got transferred to the general manager and that was it.”
After a short conversation with the Colts brass it was official, Witt was a Colt.
“You know, I talked with Chris Ballard and Coach Steichen on the phone and they said, ‘Hey, we’re going to take you right here.’ I looked down at the T.V. and the Colts were still two selections down the line still and basically I hung up the phone and I told everybody in the room that it was the Colts. There was some cheering and we were waiting for the T.V. to pop it up in a couple of minutes and there it was.”
Witt says the best part of the draft experience was the embrace with his biggest supporters.
“To see my parents that excited for me, they been there with me since the start of my journey,” said Witt. “They’ve been to every high school game that I ever played in. Every single college game home and away. They’re my biggest supporters, you know? They know all the work that was put into this. The many hours, the many years and for it to all come to fruition in that moment, you know, it was a lot of emotion and just to see them so excited, celebrating with me was an awesome experience.”
A few days later Witt was on the road heading to Indianapolis to take part in the Colts Rookie Minicamp.
“I opted to drive, so we drove down,” said Witt. “We checked in and did all the physical stuff, like the medical stuff all on Thursday. Friday and Saturday were 13 and 14 hour days of meetings and practices and whatnot.”
Witt says while arriving at the facilities was a surreal experience, once he got out on the field he was back in his comfort zone.
“Once you get out on that field to play football, you know, it might as well have been at the old Ewen- Trout Creek field or the Superior Dome,” said Witt. “It was a 100 yard field, we were out there playing football and we were there to do what we do. I’m there for a reason and they selected me so I went back to my roots, I did what I knew I could do and it was a great weekend. We got a lot of work in and now it’s all about stacking days and improving.”
Before leaving Indianapolis to make the trip back to the U.P., Witt put pen to paper signing a four year deal with the Colts. Witt says while nothing is guaranteed he’s determined to prove he belongs.
“All the work begins now,” said Witt. “It’s all about that contract. It’s there, but what am I going to do with it? Am I going to go out and prove that I’m deserving of it and worthy of it? So, like I said the work starts now and it’s going to be fun.”
No matter where Witt’s football journey takes him he says he is appreciative of the support from people back home.
“I even go down to Indianapolis and I have a bunch of former Yoopers that reach out to me and say, ‘Hey, this is my number, this is my address, come over for dinner sometime,'” said Witt. “That kind of shows how Yoopers are, we’re always supporting each other wherever we are in the country. I’m back home right now and meeting everyone in the community, everybody is so supportive throughout the entire U.P. and that’s what makes this place so special.”
Witt will head back down to Indianapolis next week for the Colts offseason program which will last for about a month. He says he will then be back in the U.P. for a month before shipping out in mid-July for fall camp.
“You can sense the culture, you can sense an improvement in that whole organization just with everyone that they brought in now,” said Witt. “I’m super excited to be there and it’s going to be a fun journey.”