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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Shemar Jean-Charles, Cornerback, Appalachian State

Does Jean-Charles fit in the Colts defensive back room?

Appalachian State v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

A fan-favorite series is coming back to the site as it is officially prospect interview season. For anybody new to the site or for people who need a reminder, every draft season I sit down with prospects that are going to be in the upcoming NFL Draft to talk with them about their off-field accomplishments and some film aspects on the field. While I don’t always talk to star players, I have been able to talk to a few players who eventually ended up with the Colts such as Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, and Rock Ya-Sin.

Our next prospect interview is with Appalachian State cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles. We talked about his breakout season this past year, what learning from newest Colts coach James Rowe was like, and how he will transition to the NFL.


Background

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 190 pounds

Class: RS Senior

Jean-Charles came to App State as a two-star cornerback prospect out of Miramar High School in Miramar, Florida. He redshirted his first season and then appeared in 24 games over the next two years in a reserve role as a nickel cornerback. He became a starter in 2019 and was named a Third Team All-Sun Belt selection by Pro Football Focus that season.

The breakout year however came this past season. He finished the year with 35 tackles, 16 pass deflections, and one interception. He was named a Walter Camp First Team All-American for his efforts and the Sun Belt player of the year by PFF. Pro Football Focus also charted him as having a higher forced incompletion rate (34.6%) than catch rate allowed (32.7%) on the year which is a truly rare accomplishment. He was also a Team Captain for App State this past season.

ZH: You had this monster season in 2020 as you earned First Team All-American honors. What led to this breakout season for you as a Senior?

SJC: Let me start with this; I’m a big football junkie. So the offseason before the season even started, I spent a majority of my offseason back home in Florida watching every single clip from our games from the past season and just learned from all of my mistakes. I have a mentor down here/big brother figure who is a current free agent right now for the NFL in Travell Dixon and a couple of other guys who are currently in the NFL right now. Spending my offseason with them and training with them and learning how to be a pro and understanding that the details really matter and I just applied everything we were able to go over to this past season. I know it was crazy with Covid and everything but I utilized a lot of that extra time I got back home to learn from these guys and apply it this past season.

ZH: I saw you were a Team Captain this past year. What did it mean to you to be a leader for such a great college program?

SJC: It was a big honor for me. It was voted on by my coaches and teammates from all positions. We have a ballot with every name on the roster and every coach and player gets a vote and yeah man, it was a big honor for me to be appreciated by them and be a guy that everyone looked up to. I take pride in teaching the younger guys as much as I can and like I said, I study football so taking them and helping them with film work to make the game easier for them is big for me.

Also with all the social justice things going on this past year was kind of crazy. Being one of the guys who was part of the Unity Council with our Head Coaches and other coaches around the university talking to higher up officials at the school and leading things like friendly protests was something that meant a lot to me. I really appreciate everything that came with being a Team Captain.

ZH: So you were big with social justice work at your school this year. How did the whole process of being able to do that start for you this year?

SJC: Yeah that was crazy man and it was pretty cool. Me and one of my other teammates, who doesn’t play anymore, named Elijah Diarrassouba basically got all the players together and we sat down with Coach Clark and it was a really cool moment. There was one day we didn’t even practice, we just sat in the team meeting room and formulated different plans and different objectives we wanted to get done before the season. Everybody was able to get their emotions off their chest and how they felt about everything and getting that perspective out there to our coaches and teammates who maybe didn’t understand. It was a pretty cool moment.


Relationship with Colts’ Defensive Back Coach James Rowe

For anyone reading this who may be unaware, the Colts’ hired Appalachian State Secondary Coach James Rowe this offseason to be their Cornerbacks Coach for this upcoming season. Rowe coached at Valdosta State back when Kenny Moore II was a player there and also spent two years in the NFL with Washington from 2017-2018.

ZH: So James Rowe was an NFL coach who came to App State this past year to coach your secondary. How big was his impact on your game this past year?

SJC: I tell people this all the time; Coach Rowe is firsthand the smartest coach I have ever been around. His football intelligence and the way he is able to break down the game and simplify it for his players is something I have never really been around before and I’ve had plenty of great coaches in my past and awesome DB coaches that are great but he’s different. I have to say he is probably.. yeah the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. The way he is able to understand offenses, understand passing concepts.. our whole secondary became better players because of him.

I took a lot of what he was telling us and those nuggets and I put them in my back pocket and really applied them during the season and before the season. We had a talk prior to the season and I asked him what is something that I can get better at and he was honest with me and told me everything I needed to work on if I had aspirations to play at the next level. I appreciate his honesty with that and Coach Rowe is just a great coach. One thing that people don’t really see too is he is one of those guys who are just bigger than football. I know a lot of guys who preach that around parents and when recruiting but he is one of those guys who will really teach you life lessons.

Things like how to manage our money. There was one day he spent almost the entire day teaching us how to manage our money with different accounts we could set up for ourselves, how to get ourselves LLC’s, and different things that they don’t really teach people in school nowadays. He taught us the things about being a better man at the end of the day. So the combination of that and the highest football IQ person I’ve been around and I’m so excited for him with the Colts.

ZH: It’s such a big difference when coaches give a shit about you right?

SJC: For real man. A huge difference. Not just the top players either. He’s going to treat everybody the same and he’s just a great man who helped me a lot.

ZH: So you said you were a football junkie to start this interview. Were there things that Coach Rowe knew on film that even you as a football junkie were completely unaware of?

SJC: Oh yeah, every week man. He’s picking out weaknesses in offenses every week and figures it out so quickly. One example was our first game of the season against Charlotte. We played Charlotte last year and they put up 40-something points and had nearly 400 yards rushing. We just couldn’t stop them for some reason and they brought back basically their entire team going into this year with the same scheme and same players. When we were watching film, he pointed out different things we didn’t notice last season. For example, they were a big RPO team so when they lined up in certain formations with certain splits, we knew RPO was coming and took that entire play out of their gameplan early in the game and that was because of him pointing that out to us.

ZH: Yeah I believe I saw a play on film where you drove on a RPO slant route for a pass break-up early on if I remember that film correctly.

SJC: Yeah I knew it was coming just watching film with him and watching film on my own. That’s just certain anticipations we got because he made it easier for a lot of us.

(The play I remembered was actually a quick hitch)


Talking some Kenny Moore II

ZH: So Coach Rowe coached Kenny Moore II at Valdosta State back in 2015 and honestly when watching your film I saw a lot of him in your game with how confident you are and your length for a smaller corner. Did Coach Rowe ever bring him up to you?

SJC: Hell yeah man. Rowe loves Kenny. He always showed us clips from guys in the league he coached, especially when he was up at Washington. We had a whole conversation one day towards the end of the season about him and he was going on and on about him and how he knew how good he was. He told us about how he came from a smaller school than us and he’s making plays in the NFL so anything is possible but yeah he talked about him a lot haha. He’s a great slot corner and I watch him a lot too. He has long ass arms too for his size. You can be watching the T.V and just see he has those long-ass arms. He is a helluva ballplayer. He’s physical, real smart, can jump, obviously can catch— we all remember that one interception he had in the back of the endzone..

ZH: I jumped up so quick on that play man. Lost my shit for a good couple minutes haha.

SJC: You are the only one bro. That was a helluva play. To have comparisons to him from you and I guess that’s not a bad thing at all haha.


Confidence

ZH: Getting to film and the biggest thing that stands out to me is your confidence on the field. There seems to never be any guessing in your game. Obviously, a big part of this is your film study habits but how big is it for you to have faith in your keys and reads?

SJC: This might sound biased but I think corners have the hardest job on the field. Outside of that, I think we have the most unique job in all of sports because we are one of the few positions where you have to move backwards making plays. A lot of that confidence I have just comes from preparation. I know a lot of guys talk about it but I think my coaches and teammates and roommates can vouch for my level of it. I prepare like I’m getting ready to play every day. My goal in studying film is to simplify everything as much as I can so on gamedays I can go out there and play as confidently as I can. When I have a feeling of what could be happening before the snap of the ball, it allows me to fly to where the play is going that much faster to make plays. To add on that, you gotta have fun playing corner. It is one of those positions where you can’t take a play off because if you mess up one time then everybody sees and remembers it. I just prepare with my film study and have fun out there and it allows me to be confident in everything I do.


Underrated in a weak CB class

ZH: I’ve watched so many cornerbacks already for this upcoming class and personally there aren’t many on film that I’ve liked more than you. Yet I don’t see your name on draft websites and you didn’t get the Senior Bowl invite and such. Do you think you are being underrated a bit in this draft class?

SJC: I try not to worry about that as much as possible but I mean, yeah. I believe I’m the best in the class and I would never say that somebody is better than me. That is just the competitive person inside of me. I give respect to where it is due and there are a lot of great corners in this class but at the end of the day, I do believe that I am the best. I feel like I can play multiple positions including special teams and make plays. Yeah, I think I’m pretty slept on but I’m just gonna keep working. It’s pretty much the story of my life. Signing week I only had two schools offer me— App State and Bowling Green— every other school pulled out after surgery on my shoulder. So yeah I’ve always been slept on and I’m ready to prove I can play at the next level.


Final Thoughts

I really like Shemar Jean-Charles and I think he would fit what the Colts like at corner. He is a long and physical corner who plays with a high level of confidence and intelligence on every play. While he may be a little small for the typical Chris Ballard mold, I could see the Colts taking a shot on day three due to his production last year and his connection to new Defensive Backs coach James Rowe.