German-American football player Bjoern Werner is all of 6’4” 255 lbs, and was practically unstoppable coming around the edge for the Florida State Seminoles in 2012. He was third in the nation in sacks with 13, and 25th in the nation in tackles for loss. As one can imagine, Werner faced many challenges on and off the field coming from Germany, but he overcame adversity and is now projected be a top-10 draft pick. We caught up with Werner and talked about those challenges, being married in college, and how college football crowds compare to the soccer ultras overseas.
Bjoern Werner on…
… the differences of playing football in Germany versus the U.S.
It’s not much different, because I came over in high school, so I went through the same process as American players. Language was the biggest problem at the beginning. Another big thing was athleticism. There are more people in the U.S. being athletic and taking it more seriously. That was a big difference from Germany.
… his impact on German football
I’m trying to be a role model. I want to have a long-lasting NFL career, and I hope I can help German football be bigger. Maybe create a pipeline – maybe like an academy with camps and combines like what IMG Academy does here. I’ll have a lot of connections. All of the coaches at Florida State notice Germans more now, because I’m proof. But right now I’m focusing on my career.
…advantages of being from Germany
Being serious and not taking for granted the opportunities. People gave me a lot of opportunities. I just put in the hard work. I see kids that have all the talent because they get comfortable. Being from Germany, I feel like I have to use everything to my advantage. Being to meetings on time, eating right, being coachable…there might be kids in Germany that WOULD have done that. So I feel like I have to do it for them.
… being married while in college
My wife is great. She’s coming from Germany in a few weeks. I was married in college, and people couldn’t believe it. They wanted me to live the college life. I was like – that is not why I came over here. I kind of grew up a little bit faster than American kids. She was my high school sweetheart before I left, and she always supported me. We were separated for two years and it made us stronger. And one thing led to another.
…college football fans compared to soccer fans abroad
Because the game is different, the support is different. The stadiums here are louder because of the student support.
…added pressure of being a top draft prospect
I came over here for this. I knew I could do it. I put the hard work in. Whatever team picks me, they are going to get a hard-working guy. It’s my goal to be the best, but I will always work hard. If I am in the top-10, that will be great, because I worked hard and did my best.
…mindset of a defensive end
Beat the offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. You have to get the big boy out of the way. Do a couple moves to get around him. It’s a lot of fun. It’s usually a way bigger guy. Then once you get around him, you have to get to the quarterback. Especially with these dual threat quarterbacks these days; it’s not easy. It’s going be hard in the NFL because of those guys.
…training at IMG Academy
It’s amazing, the whole campus. You have the golf carts to cruise around on. When you look at the schedule, you think, ‘wow.’ It’s a tough schedule. I never had this in Germany. Here, I just walk 50 ft from field to the gym. The coaching, I love it. When someone tells me what to do, I just do it, and work hard. I’m really enjoying it. Back in the day, I did my own stuff. Here they show you what to do, and if you work hard, you get better.
…his bucket list besides getting to the NFL
Never thought about it, but pretty much just the NFL. That’s the goal, that’s my focus. Maybe go to Hawaii with my wife one day.