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Transcript - Jaguars DE/OLB Jihad Ward: March 19, 2021

(On how his past has made him appreciate where he is today) "I've praised it every time throughout my whole past, catching the bus, boat, and the train. That stuff, it was a struggle, but I thank God that it hit my way. Everybody deals with adversity in life. If you think your life is good, you're going to hit adversity every time. I don't sit around here and tell people I did this throughout my life, it just made me stronger mentally. I just thank God for that one."

(On which mode of transportation was the worst from Philadelphia to the Globe Institute of Technology) "All of them. No, I had not [taken a ferry before], that was my first time when I was in JUCO. That was my first time ever catching a ferry."

(On his relationship with Defensive Coordinator Joe Cullen) "I would say Joe Cullen, a.k.a. that's my O.G. I would say that's my dog right there. But me and Joe Cullen, we go way back and it's a strong connection back there with me and him when he was getting me right for the combine. He worked me out every time. It's just some stuff that's just really not explainable. He's just a good guy to me. I trust him. I give my all to that guy because he always gives his all to me, so that's my dog."

(On if the pieces are in place for this team to have a great defense) "I believe that we have good players here and stuff like that. We had a good defense in Baltimore. So, I'm not saying we're trying to fill in some pieces, we just have to solve the problem. We have Roy [Robertson-Harris], I saw him earlier. We have a couple players. We have my former player that I went to Illinois with, Dawuane Smoot. It's just a lot of people that I know that we just need to come together. It's all about brotherhood at the end of the day."

(On what is expected of him on the defense) "My role is just being me, Jihad Ward. It's not really explainable on that one. I'm not going to sit here and be the person [who says], 'I'm this, I'm that.' It goes within. Everybody knows how I am, and you'll see. You will definitely see what Jihad is made for."

(On his conversations with former Illinois teammate, Dawuane Smoot, when he knew he was coming to Jacksonville) "When he found out, he called me, he FaceTimed me. He was just saying, 'Yeah, man, you already know what it is.' I was actually on vacation at the time when everything was up to par. So, when I got the information that I was heading down there, I was excited myself, but he was the first person that called me, and he was just excited. He called [Defensive Coordinator] Joe Cullen and he called the rest of the staff and he was just excited. He was really amped up. I don't even know. He was screaming. I don't know what the hell was going on, but he was just excited, so that's my dog."

(On playing with DE Dawuane Smoot in college) "We almost beat Ohio State. I know [Head] Coach Urban Meyer always says, 'We always whoop y'all's asses every time', but you know, I say, 'We almost had you. 2016, we almost had you.' He's like, 'Nah, that wasn't going to cut it until Ezekiel Elliott started running the ball' and stuff like that. But we talked about it earlier, I said, 'We almost had you.' He's like, 'No, you didn't.' But then again, he knew that our d-line was something special. All he saw was big [number] 17 running to the ball and trying to put pressure to the quarterback. So, it was a good moment when I saw him today because he already knew I was going to say something to him about that."

(On building the team around the defensive line) "As a defensive lineman, it always starts upfront, but the main thing is, like I said again, is about brotherhood as the d-line. We have to rush, we have to have good communication with our rushes and also dominate in the front, setting the edge, setting the vertical edge, and basically getting vertical and stuff like that. Once we have good connections right there, I think we have a dominant d-line as I look at this roster that we have going on. I feel like I'm so excited about this whole group of men that we have coming on board, like it's nothing to really explain. I'm not going to sit here and be happy about it now, it's inside me. You know me, I'm just excited and I'm ready to go."

(On what he liked about Jacksonville) "What made Jacksonville for me, pretty sure everybody knew when I was in Baltimore, I just wanted to…. The last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was a [difficult] season, but I'm here to change that. I want to be a part of that change. A lot of people, when you deal with free agency, they want to deal with the winning teams that get a Super Bowl ring and all that stuff. But some people don't realize when you go to teams, some people change, and some people do it the easy way out. I want to challenge myself. I want to be a part of this organization and I want to see the moment. Everybody wants to think Jacksonville is going to be an easy win. No, when you go up against Jacksonville, you better think twice. Watch your mouth when you come to us. That's how you have to bring it to the table. I really don't speak much and all that stuff. You'll see."

(On if Head Coach Urban Meyer was a draw to come to Jacksonville) "Yeah, most definitely. When I heard about [Head Coach] Urban Meyer as being the head coach, I thought I don't know what's going on, but I want to be around [him]. He's been around. He has history. I was talking to him upstairs. He just has so much good history around. I know him from his success, I want to know the culture. It's a difference. So, long story short, he always preaches it's all about the players every time. Once you have a group of men that trust one another and can build, I want to see that. It's so special and I'm glad I saw him today, so it was a good thing. It was a good feeling to see him again and again and again in Big Ten."

(On speaking with former Jaguar and teammate in Baltimore, Calais Campbell) "Coming to here? I haven't talked to Calais [Campbell]. I have not talked to Calais, but I'm pretty sure that he knows about it. He's probably been talking to other teammates and all that stuff. I forgot to text him. I will text him too, even though he talks too much. I know his whole acting and all that stuff. We'll get to that soon. I have a lot of stuff to talk about Calais. That's the OG, we go way back in Baltimore. We have history, all the funny moments that we had in Baltimore, so I have a lot of stuff to talk about Calais."

(On being part of the rebuilding process in Jacksonville) "It's a fresh start. I would say it's a fresh start, but it's really not fresh to me because it's like, what's next? Once I did what I had to do in Baltimore, I'm trying to get my own self going on, a new lane if that makes sense. So, it's not about really me for real, for real. I'm going to be honest with y'all. I'm really worried about the team. I'm really worried about my brothers that I'm just meeting, so that's more importantly what I'm focusing on. It's bigger than me and I've been carrying that ever since. Every time you ask me questions about me, I'm going to mention all of us. That's the type of person I am. So, it's not really a fresh start. I guess that answer that you're looking for, for a fresh start, is what we have to do instead of just me."