His NFL career ended in 2013, but Jacob Hester is never far from the thoughts of LSU fans. So when local cable outlet Cox Sports Television announced its LSU Gameday Live pregame show to start last fall, Hester was a natural choice to join Gordy Rush, Victor Howell, Emily Dixon and fellow former Tiger great Kevin Mawae on the show.
With a new season set to start, Hester was able to sit down and answer a couple of questions about his transition to the sports media, the 2015 Tigers and some memories.
You're entering season number two with the pre-game show. Thoughts on how season one went?
Just like anything, you get a little belter every time out. But it's been an adjustment -- I'm much more used to carrying the pigskin than talking about it. But it's been a lot of fun to see this perspective on things. I've really enjoyed the away game trips in particular. When you're a player, you just show up, stay in the hotel, go to the stadium and play the game. You don't get a real feel for the campus or the town or the fans or anything like that, and that's been a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to some of the new places this season, like Syracuse, because that's not a place you get to see, you know?
Was it a big adjustment moving to that side of the athlete/media relationship?
It was. I mean you always work so closely with the media, but it's definitely two different worlds. So now I talk to guys and it's just different you know? They're watching what they say a little bit and all. But still, I'm in the locker room, and really I'm part of a team with Gordy, Victor, Kevin and Emily, you know?
Any memories from the past year that stand out?
That game at Arkansas. It was so cold, and Gordy and I were there but Kevin and Victor were back here in the studio. And they kept talking about how great the hot coffee was and how they needed to turn down the thermostat because it was too hot. Meanwhile we're up there freezing in this goofy looking cold-weather gear. It was a long hour, I'll say that much.
Having a former player like Gordy, who has been in the media business so long himself, has to help, right?
Oh yeah. Gordy is such a pro -- one of the best at what he does in this business. He's helped Kevin and I both out with so much. And he's great at framing questions in the segments. Really sets things up on a tee for me to knock it out of the park.
So what are your thoughts on this LSU team as we close in on the start of the season?
I think this is a much different team from last season. Unique, because the leaders on both sides of the ball are just sophomores, but they have experience too. Leonard (Fournette) on offense -- he just has a different demeanor than most guys. Very humble, but professional in how he goes about his business. And then on defense you have Jamal Adams. He's the guy they all just seem to gravitate towards. I'm a big Jamal Adams fan; I think he's going to be one of the best defensive backs in the country this year. Be the guy that carries that #DBU banner.
What are your thoughts on the quarterback situation?
Being around Brandon (Harris) some, I really think he's matured into that starter role. I think back to my freshman year, and I remember missing audibles from Jamarcus at times, or turning the wrong way on routes, stuff like that. I can't even imagine what it was like for him as a quarterback, because there you have to know what everybody is doing on a play. That was something that didn't really come to me until later you know? I just worried about what I had to do, not the receivers or the running backs and all that, and that's what Brandon had to do right away. But I think he's getting there.
We're nearing, not just the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but also of Coach Miles' first game here. What are some of your memories from that time?
It was such a tough time. I'm not even sure if I can describe it to somebody that wasn't there. I remember that we had broken camp and had time to go home, and then the storm was coming so they called us all back so we'd all be in town. So I'm driving back from Shreveport, down I-49 and everybody's going the other way, I'm the only one going south. It was like some sort of scene out of like an apocalypse movie. I was living with Craig Steltz, and all his family was with us in our little West Campus apartment.
Les did everything as well as you could possibly do in that time. He kept family first. It was football when we were at practice and all, but it was family first. Most coaches would have just made it all about football. And it made you want to play for him, you know? Especially when we didn't know much about him coming in. He let you know that you were important to him.
Hester gave us this interview as part of a promotion tour for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket.TV U Package. He was at the LSU Bookstore on Monday meeting students and signing autographs.
NFL Sunday Ticket.TV allows people who live in apartments, condos, and town homes who are unable to receive DirecTV service to have streaming access to every NFL game via internet connected devices like smart phones, tablets, and laptops, plus XBOX one, XBOX 360, SONY PS3/PS4, Roku, and Chromecast. For students living on college campuses, DirecTV is offering the NFL Sunday Ticket.TV U Package at $24.99/month. Visit nflst.directv.com for more details