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LIONS INTRODUCE #1 DRAFT PICK TIGHT END T.J. HOCKENSON

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LIONS INTRODUCE FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK TIGHT END T.J. HOCKENSON

Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia Opening Statement: “Obviously, a very exciting couple days here for us as we continue to build our team and get ready for next year. We are very excited about the addition of T.J. (Hockenson). When the opportunity came up last night in the Draft, he’s somebody that we targeted, somebody that we definitely knew would be a great fit here in our organization, and we’re thrilled to have him and his mom and dad here today to celebrate a tremendous achievement, but also a beginning into the next phase of what’s going to be a great career. (We’re) very excited. You know, when we go back to our draft work and study—to have an opportunity to have a player like this come from a program, Iowa, with coaches that we know so well, Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and his staff and the amazing job that they do to prepare those players to come out and be able to execute at the highest level in the NFL. It was real, just a perfect match when it came up on the Draft board. As you sit and wait in the room and you look at the draft picks, and the names that come, you have to target guys that you’re looking at. As T.J. was there, certainly we were getting excited, but didn’t want to get too excited. After the picks came in and we were up, we just basically had to wait because we had the card ready to go right away. It was really just a tremendous day for us, the organization, everything we’re trying to do moving forward. Hard working, great guy, high character, really overachieves at everything that he does, which is great and we’re real excited about it. So, T.J., come on up, congratulations and we’re looking forward to it.”

Lions TE T.J. Hockenson Opening Statement: “First and foremost, I want to thank so many people. You know, my family has gotten me to this point and the University of Iowa. It doesn’t just take one person to get to this point that I’m at in my life. It takes many of people. And I also want to thank this organization. There’s so many people—to just give me the opportunity to be here and to be able to play this great game for a living is super exciting. I’m looking forward to diving into the playbook and working hard and helping this team in whatever way I can.”

On how much playing at Iowa has prepared him for playing at the next level: “I mean, the University of Iowa prepared me tremendously for this next step, not only as a player, but as a person. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and Coach (Chris) Doyle, being there 20 years, that doesn’t happen by accident. That happens by hard work, work ethic. You know, all those people that just instilled so many things into you, and just being there for three years, that really changed my life. It changed my attitude toward the game. They’ve taught me so much scheme-wise, schematically. They’ve taught me how to play this game. And you know, I’m just looking forward to carrying that on throughout my career here and throughout this entire process.”

On what it was like when Lions Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Quinn asked him if he wanted to be a Detroit Lion on draft day: “Well, of course I said yes. It meant a lot. It really did. Like I said, there’s so many people that go into this. There’s so many things that have to happen to be where I’m at right now. And everything fell into that place. I’m lucky to be part of this program. I’m super excited to get started. Like I said, these guys are starting on Monday. I’m like, ‘Hey, Coach, you mind if I come?’ You know? I want to get started. I’ve got to wait a couple weeks for rookie minicamp to come around. I just want to dive into this playbook and learn from the best.”

On if his choice to wear ‘Lion King’ themed socks to the Draft had to do with the Detroit Lions: “I did not know. I’ll be 100 percent honest with you. Throughout the entire Draft, you don’t know. Each pick comes in and you never know whose it’s going to be. There’s certain places that you may be able to go, but you never know. The sock choice was completely by coincidence. ‘The Lion King’ has been my favorite movie ever since I was little, you know, Disney. So, I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s awesome. There’s a lot of signs that came to this with the drop of the puck, or whatever, and then the socks. All I had was blue (clothing), so I was meant to be here and I’m very excited to start this.”

On if wearing ‘The Lion King’ themed socks to the Draft was premeditated ahead of time: “No, I think the night before I left, I packed. And I was like, ‘Oh, these socks are pretty sweet and they’re ‘Lion King,’ so I’m going to wear them.’ That’s what happened – pure coincidence. I’m just excited to be here.”

On what it was like to run into Lions WR Danny Amendola at the airport today: “I mean, it’s so cool. The things that he’s achieved throughout his career. And you know, just being able to share a moment and be able to meet him in person for the first time I’m here, for the first time I’m a part of this team, it was truly special. It’s something that I’m looking forward to continuing to grow upon, is to be able to work with those guys, with such great people, with these veterans and be able to learn from them. And just being able to learn how they see the game, and how they carry about their business.”

On what his perception of the Lions was growing up and his favorite teams as a youth: “I was part of like a little league baseball team. We were the Tigers. So, I had the Old English ‘D’ on the hat. I wore that everywhere. I played a lot of NHL video games when I was really little with my cousins and I was always the Red Wings. There’s been a few signs, that I’d say to this point. This city, this organization, I’ve heard nothing but great things. So, like I said, I’m excited to get started.”

On the type of advice 49ers TE George Kittle has given him as he makes this transition to the NFL: “You’ve got to prove yourself. It doesn’t matter where you go. It doesn’t matter what you do. You have to dive into the playbook. Everyone starts fresh. You have to prove yourself. This game isn’t for people that aren’t willing to work. That’s what’s awesome about coming from the University of Iowa, is (that) you had to work. You have to work for everything. I’m going to go back to those roots and work for everything that’s given to me.”

On how he transformed into a first-round draft pick: “Like I said, it doesn’t just happen by one person. It doesn’t just happen by myself, pushing everyone away or doing anything like that. It happened by all these people coming with me, helping me throughout my entire life, throughout every step of the way. That starts with my family, that starts with (Iowa Head) Coach (Kirk) Ferentz, (Director of Strength and Conditioning Chris) Doyle putting weight on me, instilling the fundamentals that it takes to block, instilling the fundamentals that it takes to run routes and understanding concepts. You’re not only trying to get open, but you’re to get other guys open at the same time. Depending on what the defense shows you and the rotations and everything, you have to see different things. Like I said, it happens by not one person, it happens by many.”

On how much passion he takes on blocking for the run game and where that passion comes from: “I mean, I’ve always been a physical person. Ever since I was younger, I had two older brothers that loved to push me around. They wanted to make me tough, so that’s what’s been sold to me. So just being a 220 (pound) guy going into the Big Ten, it was pretty hard to be physical without getting thrown around. So, like I said, Coach (Chris) Doyle, Coach (Kirk) Ferentz showing me the fundamentals of blocking, putting some weight on me – it just helped me prepare for this moment and it helped me become a three-down tight end because I was always wanting to block, I just never could. Throughout the process and getting so many reps, you get better as time goes on.”

On being able to use his entire skillset with the Lions: “Like I said, I’m just excited for this opportunity. This organization is such a great organization and there’s great people that are running it. So, just to be able to have this opportunity to use all of my skillsets and to be able to learn from the best really means a ton, and I’m looking forward to it.”

On if he saw the video that Stead Family Children’s Hospital made for him last night: “No. I mean my phone’s been blowing up. I think my phone’s been off the entire time. I’m going to have to look at that, though.”

On his relationship with the Stead Family Children’s Hospital: “The Children’s Hospital, with the University of Iowa, is very close. I mean we all go up there, we all visit the kids. It’s really special – you have the wave and it really puts in perspective that this is a game. There’s so many people that are wanting to be in your position and so many people that can’t get out of bed and they’re just little kids and they’re so innocent. They just love life and you walk into the room and their eyes light up. That just puts into perspective just how good of a life that you have and how many people it’s taken to get there.”

On how he would describe the last 24 hours of his life: “It’s been fun. I mean you get to meet so many people. In Nashville, I got to meet a lot of the guys that you don’t really get to talk to, you just hear their names. You get to come here and you get your name called – which was amazing. Like I said, I’m excited for this opportunity, but then you get to meet all these other people. The relationships that you build throughout this process, that’s what carries on for a lifetime. Your time in the game only lasts for so long, but the relationships you build in this game lasts forever.”

On if he had a moment of reflection so far: “I mean, yeah, that shows up all the time. Just being able to talk to so many people and then being like, ‘Man, this has been a dream of mine since I was a kid,’ and it really has. Now it’s here and now I have to go to work.”

On what it means to officially be a professional football player: “Isn’t that cool? I mean really – you get to play football for a living. I mean that’s the best feeling in the world. There’s no words to describe that.”

On if he has a favorite play from his career at Iowa: “I don’t know if I could say that. I think that in every single play, there’s a job that has to be done in that certain play and then you have to either get somebody open, or you have to do your job on that play. You can’t be one of the 11 guys that screws up and then you screw up the entire play. So that’s what I tried to do at the University of Iowa. I tried to dive into the playbook and I tried to learn it inside and out and that’s the same thing I’m going to do here.”

On if he has a nickname: “My last name is Hockenson, so a lot of the guys call me, ‘Hock.’”

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