Jonathan Wynn’s path to the NFL wasn’t ideal.
On the same note, it wasn’t uncommon.
The former Vanderbilt Commodore began his NFL career an undrafted free agent. Soon after, he found himself making the Minnesota Vikings practice squad.
That was then though.
This is now.
And right now, he’s a member of the Detroit Lions.
The Lions promoted Wynn, 25, to their main roster Lions last year following a season-ending injury to linebacker Christian Jones. With the 2020 season on the horizon, his focus will to be an impact player in the Lions’ defensive scheme.
Prior to that, he’s looking to make that an impact elsewhere.
While at Vanderbilt, Wynn majored in Educational Studies and History. That’s when he began to “flex his writing muscle” during his senior year. These efforts have led to him penning the book Summer Juice.
He calls the book “a coming of age fiction about a shy, introverted kid who finds himself one summer with the help of this magical lemonade stand drink, getting him into series of events that creates a memorable summer for him.”
Wynn’s currently in the process of preparing for the book’s Summer release. It didn’t stop him from taking time out of his schedule to speak with me though. We spoke on his prediction for the upcoming season, and the drafting of Jeff Okudah. Lastly, we talked about his favorite place to eat in Detroit, where he provided an interesting answer on a staple food item.
KW: Going into this season, I know there’s been a lot of changes with the team and especially with the defense. What role can you see yourself playing in the Lions defensive scheme?
JW: Really just it’s not more so of a fit, but really just doing my job. Stopping the run and going after the quarterback on the pass. So I don’t think it’s a specific role, it just more so doing my job.
KW: What do you feel is your best skill set as a defensive role player?
JW: Oh yeah, definitely on pass rush.
KW: I know the “stay-at-home” order has affected a lot of different things. How has that affected you with being able to prepare?
JW: I can’t be out as much, but I still find a way to get training done. Outside of that, it doesn’t affect me as much. I still get my training done. So the only thing is outside of that, I just mostly stay inside and stay out of the way.
KW:What kind of training have you been doing to get yourself prepared? Anything in particular?
JW: Really, it’s still a [private] gym that I still work out and at the same time, I still go to the field because it’s still open for anybody. So it’s not too different from a normal workout.
KW: Are these workouts that you’re coming up with things that you know that you need to work on? In addition to that, is there stuff that the coaches have been communicating to you to work out on?
JW: Yeah, it’s more so the coaches communicating, just so I can make something I’m great on those things while I’m going back.
KW: Now, the team has drafted a Jeff Okudah. Do you see him fitting in immediately to help with the defensive scheme?
JW: With Slay being gone and him coming in, it will definitely give him opportunity to show what he can do and put him in a position to succeed coming in.
KW: With you being with the team this past season, I know you’re aware of fans being anxious to see the team deliver a winner to the city. What would you say to reassure fans going into the upcoming season that you guys are working towards that?
JW: I feel like our bond and gratitude toward things on this team has been better. We put an emphasis on that during this time, especially during virtual meetings. I feel like the camaraderie will be better and things can definitely click to where things will come together during the game for us to win.
So, that’s just the main thing right now, but this baby’s tentative right now we’re just. We’re just steps in terms of the process. And just taking advantage of that more so right now, before I think about the games and everything.
KW: There’s been talk of the season starting on time and a possibility of there being games with limited fans in attendance or no fans at all. How would you feel about playing with no fans in attendance?
JW: Yeah. You know, it would be different. It would not have that lively atmosphere when playing. But at the same time, it’ll still be televised. It’ll still be a way for fans to see. I guess that’d be the more extra intention towards that when playing the games.
KW: Okay. Now I see know you’re from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
KW: I’ve been down south, and I know Southern cooking is a lot different to what you’re getting up here [in Detroit]. Any restaurants up here that resemble anything close to back at home?
JW: Well, yes. Just like back home. I feel like it’s a lot of that African American population still heavy in Detroit to where it’s kind of similar to where I’m from in Stone Mountain to where you still have good cooking in Detroit. I guess one spot, in particular that was kind of good being up here in Detroit was…I did like Captain Jay’s. It was good when it came to chicken. I know particularly that stood out was with the chicken for that.
KW: What about coney’s? Have you had your coney fix yet?
JW: Yeah. I have. I’m not a big fan of Coneys.
KW: Ah man! Detroit… they’re going to give you a strike on that one.
JW: I’m sorry. [laughs] I just couldn’t get into it. I just can’t. I can’t get into it.
KW: Hey, it’s an acquired taste, especially if you’re not from here. I get it. You said you’ve been keeping to yourself and your workouts during the stay-at-home. I’ve asked a few athletes this so I’ll ask you. What you have been watching? Any Netflix shows that’s kept your attention?
JW: You know there’s The Last Dance. [On] Netflix there’s been a lot of documentaries lately. Like I saw the Becoming, the Michelle Obama special, which was good. I did watch watch this show called Hollywood. And I was watching a little bit of Snowfall, but it’s kind of been little shows here and there to where I haven’t really finished them. For the most part, when it comes to movies or like the documentary specials, those have been the ones I’ve been watching more lately.
KW: Thank you for taking your time to catch up with me. I want to ask you this one last question. If you could give Lions fans a prediction for this upcoming season, what would it be?
JW: It’ll be a prediction of us… there were definitely last year there was a lot of games that we left out that we could have won. It was so many games that could have went the other way. And I feel like for this upcoming season, we will definitely do our part to make sure in those crucial situations, we come out on top. So have more wins this season than last season.
To learn more about Jonathan Wynn and his upcoming book, you can follow him on Instagram: @wayyback_wynn.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter: @koryewoods and Instagram: @kory.woods