Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jeremy Ruckert each had to wait until the third round of the 2022 NFL draft to hear their names called on Friday night.
Their waits might have lasted a bit longer than they had hoped, but once both of them actually were selected, they seemed as though they couldn’t have been happier with where they ended up.
Petit-Frere, whose appreciation for his opportunity to play in the NFL was evident throughout the draft process, was beaming as he spoke with Tennessee Titans reporters on a Zoom call just minutes after he was selected by the Titans with the No. 69 overall pick in the early third round. Petit-Frere said he was never concerned with what round he got selected in, but he was thrilled to be going to Tennessee, where he’ll be coached by a former Buckeye in Mike Vrabel, join an offensive line room that includes another former Buckeye in Jamarco Jones and block for one of the NFL’s elite running backs, Derrick Henry.
“Me getting this opportunity to play for a great organization like Tennessee, for me to be under great coaches like (offensive line Keith) Carter and Coach Vrabel, I'm just, I'm more than happy, I’m blessed,” Petit-Frere said Friday night.
Ruckert was not drafted until the fifth-to-last pick of Day 2, but the destination was worth the wait. A native of Lindenhurst, New York, Ruckert was selected with the No. 101 overall pick by the New York Jets, the team he grew up rooting for as a kid. In his Zoom call with Jets reporters shortly after being drafted, Ruckert said the opportunity to play so close to home is “a dream come true.”
“I mean, I’ve dreamed of this as a little kid. Grew up a Jets fan. My whole family grew up as Jets fans,” Ruckert said. “This means just as much to them as it does for me, and that means a lot to me, in general, just because of all the support that they've given me throughout my life, doing everything they could to help me be where I am today.”
Petit-Frere is excited about teaming up with Jones, who signed with the Titans as a free agent this offseason, because of their Ohio State connection.
“At least we have two Ohio State guys in the O-line room,” Petit-Frere said. “Hopefully, we can make it more Ohio State guys, but whoever we put in there, it’s just a great room.”
When Petit-Frere was asked about the opportunity to play with Henry, he could barely contain his excitement.
“Oh my god, are you kidding me?” Petit-Frere reacted. “I mean, there's only a few people that you can say, ’Hey, I got a chance to block for’ that would make you be able to have stories about and to be able to block for someone like Derrick Henry, one of the best running backs in the league and one of the best running backs ever to play college football, I mean, oh my god, it's such a blessing. I hope I get a chance to meet him, I hope me and him become great friends. Who knows, maybe we become best friends. And I just want to be able to block for him as best as I can. I want to support him, I want to make sure that he's the best player he can ever be.”
Ruckert, meanwhile, will get the chance to continue playing with his former Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson, who the Jets drafted in the first round with the No. 10 overall pick. That only adds to Ruckert’s excitement about playing for his childhood favorite team.
“He's my guy. Ever since he first came into our building (at Ohio State), he was great,” Ruckert said of Wilson. “You can tell he's a great player, but he's always a great personality and fun to be around and uplifted so many guys. The player he is speaks for himself, but what people don’t understand is the type of person he is, and I can't wait to continue to be his teammate and continue to work alongside of him. I'm excited for him, and I'm just excited in general.”
Friday was clearly a special night for both Petit-Frere and Ruckert as they realized their dreams of becoming NFL players and in Ruckert’s case, of playing for the team he’s always wanted to play for. But they also both made it clear that they aren’t going to allow themselves to get caught up in the excitement for too long, as they look to turn being drafted into long, successful careers in the league.
Both players say they’re willing to do whatever their new teams ask of them, with Petit-Frere saying he’ll play anywhere on the offensive line or even long snapper and Ruckert saying he’ll kick the ball if he needs to.
“The story is still being written, and I can't wait to get to work,” Ruckert said. “But I mean, this moment right now, I'm super excited. And my family’s super excited. And I'm excited for them. So I just can't wait to get to work and be part of it.”
Want to see what pure joy looks like?— jamie stuart (@jamiestuartTV) April 30, 2022
Heres the moment Long Islands @Jeremy_Ruckert1 got drafted by his favorite team the @nyjets. @NewsdaySports @NewsdayHSsports @BeerShot21 pic.twitter.com/hYqmzrQAnj
Petit-Frere said the biggest thing he took away from his pre-draft visit to the Titans was that he needed to “be ready to work” if they drafted him, and that’s exactly what he plans to do, with the goal of doing whatever he can to help the Titans win a Super Bowl.
“I told everyone (at his draft party), it didn't matter what round I got drafted, when I got drafted. I said, ‘Look, I'm gonna be excited for the first few minutes’ but once I kind of locked back in, I told them that ‘Look, you're gonna see me be excited for a little while, But right after that, it's time to work,’” Petit-Frere said. “My mentality now is, I'm ready for me to go to Nashville, I'm ready for me to train as hard as I can. I just want to get with the strength coaches, I want to get Coach Carter, I want to get with Coach Vrabel. I want to ask them ‘Hey, what do I need to do to train before I get to Nashville? What do I need to do for me to learn more offensive line stuff before I get to Nashville?’
“I'm not trying to start at day one, I'm trying to start like already ready for me to be part of the offensive line unit, already be part of the team. I want to be a veteran when I get in there. I want to train like I'm a veteran. I want to learn like I'm a veteran, I want to practice like I'm a veteran. I want to do all the things that it takes to be a great player in the NFL.”