Remaining humble and waiting for his chance has been a trademark of Jeremy Wareâ€™s football career.
The former Michigan State standout cornerback can proudly lay claim to being recognized as one of the hardest working players during the Coach Mark Dantonio-era.
Many former Spartans, including Ware, cite their â€œfamilyâ€ at Michigan State as a motivating factor for success, but Ware had a solid foundation before he came to East Lansing, crediting his home life for uplifting him.
â€œIt just comes from my mom, growing up with all those brothers and two sisters,â€ said Ware in a recent interview with Spartan Nation Radio. â€œIt was all we had; it was all we knew was to grind it out. â€¦ Thatâ€™s all we knew how to do.â€
As the Oakland Raidersâ€™ seventh-round pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, Ware was likely expected to mature under the tutelage of veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha, who is known as perhaps the leagueâ€™s elite corner. Raiders fans have been talking about Ware, and thereâ€™s no doubt they expect him to rapidly progress, bringing his speedy and hard-hitting reputation from East Lansing to Oakland.
With the likelihood that Asomugha will leave the Bay-Area for another team, this season â€“ now that it sounds like itâ€™s going to officially get underway â€“ could be Wareâ€™s breakout year. Thereâ€™s no guarantee that Ware will take the starting role if vacated by Asomugha, but if his past is any indication of his abilities, donâ€™t count Ware out.
Ware said he doesnâ€™t concern himself much with the â€œbusiness sideâ€ of the NFL. He prefers to manage his own affairs, not worrying about what the next guy is doing. But, he realizes there is potential to make an impact should one of the NFLâ€™s hottest free agents depart.
â€œIf he does leave, that will be a good opportunity for me to show what I can do,â€ said Ware of Asomugha.
But having the likes of arguably the NFLâ€™s top shutdown corner to emulate certainly has its benefits.Â Â â€œIâ€™d love to have him back,â€ said Ware. â€œHeâ€™s a great person to learn from, and Iâ€™m still young.â€
In his rookie campaign in 2010, Ware came off the bench in eight games and contributed with an interception and tackle. Small strides, yes, but Ware stressed the importance of moving forward, something he learned from Coach Dantonio while at Michigan State -- a lesson which allowed him to make it to the NFL.
With a 4.37-second 40-yard dash time and keen field awareness, Wareâ€™sÂ talent captured the imagination of the Oakland brass during Pro Day in 2010.
"Oaklandâ€™s coaches indicated they really like me speed, my ability to tackle in the open field and my ability to play man-to-man coverage.â€
His speed was never in question while hunting down targets as a Spartan, and neither was his ability to lay the hammer.Â Â Last season, Ware upended San Franciscoâ€™s Moran Norris, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound veteran fullback, saving a first down during a 28-24 preseason loss.
However, perhaps Wareâ€™s hit â€“ at least to the Spartan Nation â€“ is what heâ€™s most famous for. In a heartbreaking 15-13 loss in 2009 to the Iowa Hawkeyes at Spartan Stadium, Ware flattened Hawkeyes receiver Colin Sandeman. In a questionable call, the hit was deemed illegal (for the record, it was clean).
Memories of Wareâ€™s past and hope for his future are the talks nowadays among the Spartan faithful. Seeing one of its own earn a job in the NFL brings great joy to those whom watched Ware since his arrival to East Lansing from South Carolina.
And he hasnâ€™t forgotten where heâ€™s came from, either.
Last season, he said his teammates would watch Spartans football just to harass him if they lost. Well, Wareâ€™s teammates had to wait until Week 9, because Sparty rolled to an 8-0 mark before losing 37-6 to the Hawkeyes in Iowa.
The loss hurt, but Michigan State went on to capture its first share of the Big Ten since 1990, posting an all-time record of 11-2 (11-1 regular season).Â And Ware thinks his â€œSpartan Dogsâ€ are capable of building on their triumphs from a year ago and repeat as conference champions.
â€œI know weâ€™re going to do it,â€ said Ware, confidently. â€œWe have to shoot for the national championship now,â€ later adding that Dantonio encouraged â€œbaby stepsâ€ regarding progress and that the Spartans are ready to â€œgo for it all.â€
The Green and White still run deep in Wareâ€™s soul. Heâ€™s a Raider, now, but heâ€™ll forever be a Spartan.Â Â â€œI know the Spartan Nationâ€™s proud of me,â€ he said. â€œAnd I love Spartan Nation.â€
Spartan Nation Did You Know?
As a prep standout at Lehigh High (Fla.), Ware started all four years for coach Larry Gary. As impressive as being a four-year starter is, perhaps more significant was the fact that Ware never allowed a touchdown pass against him during his days at Lehigh. As a senior, Ware had 40 tackles and seven picks.