JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars rookie linebacker Chad Muma is a smart kid. That observation stems as much watching him play linebacker as knowing he's about to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. The former Wyoming Cowboy earned All-American honors in his senior year in Laramie by finishing third in solo tackles in college football players and second in interceptions returned for a touchdown. He has a knack for learning on the fly, which was visible to anyone watching him adapt to the speed of the pro game against the Las Vegas Raiders last Thursday; by the second half, he looked less like a rookie in his first game action and more like a player on whom the Jaguars can rely. Senior correspondent recently caught up with Muma at Jaguars 2022 Training Camp.
Question: War Memorial Stadium in Laramie is 7,165 feet up in the Rocky Mountains, almost a mile and a half high. How are you adjusting to life at sea level in Florida?
"It's definitely intense. Going through training camp the first couple of days, I'm feeling that heat. I'm feeling good and am getting adjusted to playing in this heat. I'll be glad when I can feel good all the time and be fully acclimated to playing against guys who probably aren't. I've always had dry heat. I've never been exposed to this kind of humidity in my playing career. I'll get used to it. The altitude was always an advantage and now the heat and humidity will be."
Q: How different is it being a professional football player after four years in college?
The biggest part about being a pro is that you have to correct your mistakes quickly; the coaches and players are all the best of the best and you can't be the weak link. They depend on me to do my job, which means I have to know what I'm doing. When I make a mistake, I have to learn from it and move on quickly. That can be tough when you're a rookie and not getting all the reps like I did at Wyoming. You have to learn from other players' mistakes. You have to pay attention and find a way to get better because if you don't, you're not going to be a pro for long."
Q: The Jaguars are expecting big things from you, that's why they used a third-round pick to draft you. This seems to be a strong situation for you to come in and learn and play.
I certainly think that it is. I couldn't ask for a better guy to learn from then Foye Oluokun, a guy who led the league in tackles last season. I get to practice with him and then talk to him about anything, a certain fit in the run game or coverage in the passing game. Being able to tap into his knowledge and experience gives me a chance to get up to speed quickly and to learn from those mistakes and be ready to play. It helps that we have a new system and a new coordinator in Mike Caldwell because to some degree everyone is learning something new, and the curve isn't as steep as it might have been. Both those guys and Tony Gilbert have helped me a lot."
Q: Has your family been able to be a part of this experience with you from Denver? Are they enjoying it as much as you seem to be?
"I sent my family some Jaguars jerseys the other day so my folks could be outfitted the right way in Broncos country. I wouldn't be where I am today as a player or a person without them so it's exciting to me to see them excited about this and I can't wait to see how it goes for all of us when the season gets rolling."
Q: The Jaguars have had just one winning season in the last 15 years but there is a sense of real enthusiasm in north Florida because of Head Coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Do you share that as well?
"I definitely feel it and I sense it from the people I meet and the other players and coaches. It's tough to talk about what it's been like in the past since I wasn't here. But to listen to the veterans who were here talk about what it was like, and to see how much they respect and enjoy playing for Doug Pederson, I feel really lucky to be here and am glad to be a part of the Jaguars organization. Hopefully, we're about to change all that and turn this thing into something that everyone can be proud to be a part of. I love what Coach Pederson stands for and know that all the guys are working hard every day to be the best we can be."