Josh Jahlas is an senior linebacker and a proud member of WOPA. He took some time out of his busy summer to tell us all about what being a walk-on at Iowa State means, and to give us his answers to a host of football and other non-sports related questions. So step into the lounge, pull up a chair, grab a drink and listen to the story of a walk-on you'll likely see making a large impact on the football field this fall.
WRNL: Since some of our readers may not know much about you, why don't you tell the people a little about yourself?
Josh: Well, I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and played four sports at Kennedy High School. Since I was five years old (basically) I have pretty much played sports the whole year round. In the summer months I love being outside and chilling by the pool whenever I can.
WRNL: How did you end up deciding to play football at Iowa State?
Josh: I had opportunities to continue my football career at various small colleges in and around the state of Iowa, but I didn't ever want to regret not trying to play football at the highest level possible. I also really wanted to study engineering, so Iowa State just really made sense!
WRNL: I noticed that you redshirted your freshman year, and that it took another year before you began to see the field. What did you learn during those first two seasons? What was the hardest part about trying to work your way up the depth chart?
Josh: Man, those first couple years in the program were tough... Working in the weight room to gain size and speed really benefited me. Also seeing other walk-ons make an impact on the program really meant a lot to me. I looked up to guys like Drake Ferch, Wes Boyer, Gage Shaeffer and obviously the man the myth the legend Levi Peters as well. Seeing the contributions they made each and every practice, as well as the games, really left a lasting impression on me and I hope I can do the same for future walk-ones.
WRNL: Your sophomore year saw you getting playing time on special teams. What do you remember about stepping on the field during a game for the first time?
Josh: To be honest, the first time I stepped on the field, I was pretty damn nervous. It was the Kansas State game from the 2014 season, and we were just getting ready to kick off. All of a sudden,my name got called to get in the game. I jumped up and tried hard not to show just how nervous I was. Levi grabbed me and said, "Hey it's just like practice, go have fun and make a play!" and I did just that; I went down and got the tackle, the rest is history I guess.
WRNL: Describe what it takes to play on special teams, specifically what it takes to be a human heat seeking missile like yourself?
Josh: It doesn't take much to excel on special teams, really. You just need to have that competitive edge to beat everyone else to the ball carrier. Also a willingness to give everything you got to make the team better.
WRNL: Tell us what WOPA is all about...
Josh: WOPA means everything to us. We are a tight knit group that is just trying to make an impact with the opportunities we get. Often they are few and far between, but we try to make the most of them.
WRNL: What are your thoughts on Coach Campbell and his new staff? What was the transition like?
Josh: Coach Campbell and the entire staff has been great. One of the coolest moments with Coach Campbell this year was at the spring game when coach invited a lot of former players to come back. Some of them spoke to the team before the game, and that was incredible. Listening to Matt Blair (former NFL All-Pro from the Vikings) talk about how much playing at Iowa State meant to him was extremely cool. Anyways, we are making strides this summer and I can't wait to get back out there on the field! I can tell he's got all of Cyclone Nation excited, and we all are as well.
WRNL: Word is that you are poised to become a bigger contributor this fall. What are your goals for this fall?
Josh: My goal is to get to a bowl game. I'm one of the few left on the team that got to make the trip to Memphis for the Liberty bowl my freshman season, so I know how fun they are. Whatever position I play this fall, I will do my best to make everyone around me as good as they can be.
WRNL: You gained a little notoriety this spring break when you and some fellow teammates saved a girl from drowning on spring break... Was that whole situation just kind of surreal?
Josh: Well as you could probably guess, we spent every day in South Padre out on the beach pretty much until the sun went down. This was our last day and all the Texas boys convinced us we needed to get Whataburger before we left. So after spending $20 there (it was fantastic), we rode some go-karts and got back to our hotel around 8ish. The sun was kind of setting and everyone had pretty much passed out in their beds. I was sitting on the patio drinking a cold one and I saw tail lights in the canal next to our hotel. I started shouting and Lazard, Spreen and Joe Doran jumped into action. I'm sure everyone else has heard the rest of the story after that.
WRNL: Alright, time for some fun questions... What's your favorite non-football activity?
Josh: Taking naps without a doubt. Between school, work, and football I don't get enough sleep!
WRNL: Favorite tv show/movie?
Josh: Game of Thrones and The Dark Knight.
WRNL: Favorite food?
Josh: Without a doubt cheeseburgers. Those Whataburgers we had in Texas were out of this world. Probably had to do with the state I was in, I suppose...
WRNL: Favorite beer and favorite drink (preferably alcoholic)?
Josh: Coors Light, and then it's a toss up between Margs and Rum and Cokes.
WRNL: Favorite and least favorite Big 12 stadium to play in?
Josh: Favorite would be Oklahoma or Texas, as there is so much history in both those places as well as all the people those stadiums can hold. Least favorite would have to be Texas Tech. The turf they have there is like playing on that really old Astroturf from back in the day.
WRNL: Marry, Fuck, Kill: Anna Kendrick, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence?
Josh: Marry Emma Watson because I love all the Harry Potter movies. Fuck Jennifer Lawrence. Kill Anna Kendrick.
WRNL: I hear WOPA members like to have a little fun.. any fun party stories you can share with us?.
Josh: Lots of stories, there's probably not enough time for all of them... Most nights usually end with me making sure everyone gets home safe though (specifically Harger)! I do have one story though... At Drake Ferch's wedding last summer, we all had a great time. We got a hotel room in Marshalltown for after the reception, and there was this bus that took us from the reception back to the hotel. When we got back, we weren't ready to go to bed, of course. It was past the time the pool should've been open (probably around 1 am), and we thought we'd try getting in. Let me tell you, IT WAS OPEN. We saw cameras so Harger went to the front desk asked for extra towels and looked to see where the cameras were located. He then threw those towels over the cameras so they couldn't see us in there. Eventually someone in the hotel complained that we were making too much noise, and we were finally forced to leave.
WRNL: If you had to choose a Jack Trice entrance song, what would it be?
Josh: Pour Some Sugar on Me. You can usually hear that at the bars if any WOPA member is around.
WRNL: Who's the funniest or most annoying guy on the team?
Josh: Well I live with Mitch Harger so he is probably the most annoying guy on the team, to me at least. Anthony Lazard is easily the most entertaining to be around.
Huge thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck to him and the team this fall! In addition, it is this writer's goal to make WRNL Interviews a biweekly series for the duration of the offseason. If you have any thoughts on this idea, or any interview requests, be sure to drop them in the comments.