Josh Uche seems poised to make a second-year jump, and it’s becoming easier to see why the Patriots drafted him.
Uche comes off like a man obsessed with football, in a good way. And obsessed with getting better. He could represent an out-of-the-box transition to a smaller, but speedier and more versatile, linebacker for the Patriots’ base nickel defense, and he seems willing to put in the work to play at a high level.
The second-year pro out of Michigan has received consistently good reviews from reporters who attended the team’s open practices in the spring. Alex Barth of 98.5 The Sports Hub said Uche “stood out compared to just about every other player on the field” in his minicamp takeaways.
Uche also sounds like a standout off the field. He repeatedly stressed the importance of film study and examining whatever video he can get his eyeballs on in order to get even “just one percent better.” And, in a sign of how the newest generations of NFL players are making the most of modern technology, Uche credited YouTube as a longtime resource.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller recently invited Uche to a summit with other NFL pass rushers, past and present. Uche credited Miller, and his YouTube highlights, as an inspiration for his own career.
“I’ve been on YouTube watching [Miller] since middle school, I want to say,” Uche told reporters Wednesday. “So, for him to invite me, to be a part of it, meet DeMarcus Ware, Chuck Smith, couple other guys, and just talk about our craft, pass-rushing, it was just a dream come true.”
Uche will have momentum going into training camp at the end of July after what sounded like an impressive showing at OTAs and minicamp. It’s hard to glean any kind of progress when the pads haven’t gone on yet, but Uche seems to have taken full advantage of the opportunities granted to him. The task, now, is to maintain that momentum over the next several weeks, the players’ final extended break before they reconvene for training camp to get ready for the 2021 season. Uche plans on – you guessed it – more video work. All football, all the time.
“I mean, in the profession we’re in, this isn’t something that you can kind of turn on and off, in my opinion,” Uche said. “So, football is something I try to work on year-round, whether it’s watching film, watching old games, or just continuing to be involved in football and what it is we do here, the Patriots. Whether it’s working out or watching film or taking notes on different things, I just try to keep myself involved constantly.”
Uche didn’t specify whether he’d dig up “old games” on YouTube, but the website remains a treasure trove of highlights for him to dive into over the summer, in addition to the traditional All-22. There’s little doubt that Uche is going to fire up the ‘Tube at some point between camps. The mere fact that he’s so focused on football is an illustration of the Patriots’ interest in him as a draft pick. Uche’s combination of athleticism and work ethic gives him as high a ceiling as any young talent on the team.
“I’m a football player at the end of the day, so I’ve got to be able to do whatever it is coach needs me to do, whatever phase of the game, kicking game, whatever it is,” Uche said. “And, you know, I just need to make sure I become a good football player. So whatever I need to do to get that done is what I’m going to do.”
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.