The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Penn football's Rory Starkey Jr. 15 questions about his sport, his time at Penn, and his life overall. Here's what the junior wide receiver had to say.
1. Introduce yourself.
My name is Rory Starkey Jr., I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. My birthday is January 11th. I’m 20 years old. I’m in Wharton, and major in Management and specialize in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I have two older sisters, and I’m the youngest.
2. What is your favorite part about playing football?
The feeling and the atmosphere of the competition in every game. The feeling that you get walking out on the field and being with your team and seeing fans. There really isn’t anything I can compare it to. That feeling I get when I score a touchdown or make a big play or one of my teammates scores a touchdown or makes a big play. It’s the feeling of accomplishment and excitement of doing something I’ve been doing my whole life, and something I know I’m good at.
3. How did you first get into playing football?
I started playing football when I was four years old. So as soon as I was able to do anything physically, like walking and running, my dad wanted me to get out there. I actually played six and under when I was four years old, so I was playing with older kids. I started playing basketball and baseball too, so I was playing three sports.
4. Why did you choose to play football at Penn?
First and foremost, Penn is a premier academic school, so compared to other schools I was looking at, there really was no comparison in terms of academics and opportunities. For football, the coaches made me feel like I was going to be a part of something right when I got there. I was going to be a contribution to the team that mattered. A lot of times when it comes to D1 football and scholarships, it seems like you’re just another number or another recruit to fill the scholarship space. But here they made me feel like I was actually wanted and was actually going to contribute something to the program.
5. Your grandfather, Mel Jones, played in college and your cousin, Alex Brown, played professionally. How did they influence your passion to play?
I actually didn’t know I had a cousin who played in the NFL until recently. But my grandfather has been a high school coach in Virginia for 50+ years. Whenever he was around, he would always tell me stories about him playing football coming up, and the people he coached and the different things that it takes to get to the next level and the different things that being a football player entails. I’ve always had that connection with him. That's pretty much our biggest connection is football because he’s a coach and I’m a player and that’s all we talk about it. I’ve had that influence my whole life, and I think it’s played a really big part in the way I view football, and the way I go about playing football because I know it’s in my blood.
6. What has been the highlight of your Penn career so far?
I would say all of last season was pretty much a highlight. I felt like I should’ve played my first year here, and I wasn’t used to not playing. I’ve never been in a situation where I wasn’t playing and wasn’t doing something with the team. I knew coming into sophomore year that I had to prove myself and I dealt with injury early on in the season so it was another setback where I was like, “Wow, it really doesn’t seem to be going my way right now.” I just kept pushing and when I finally got out there and I finally was able to show what I could do, it felt amazing.
7. Do you have a pregame routine, or a way you like to get hyped up?
I like to meditate to myself a little, but I don’t really like talking to a lot of people. Right before we go out on the field, yeah I like to get hype with my teammates. But when I’m preparing hours before, I like to take that time to hone in on myself and listen to whatever mood I’m in, music wise. I don’t necessarily have a pregame playlist, but whatever mood I’m in that day, that’s the music I listen to.
8. How optimistic are you about the team playing in the spring?
We’re very optimistic, I’m pretty sure it’s something the whole team wants to do. We haven’t played football in over a year, so we all want to get back on the field as soon as possible. But with everything going on right now, it’s hard to say if it’s the safest or the most important thing to do right now. We’re very excited and very eager to get back on the field, but we’re still gauging everything that’s going on. The biggest thing that we want to make sure the team is doing is staying ready.
9. What have you had more time to do during quarantine?
I started producing music as a junior in high school, so I was doing that pretty heavy in high school. When I got to college, I was still doing it, but I kind of let it die down. But that’s something that I’ve been doing over quarantine. Also recording music, not only producing music. I have a roommate that’s my childhood friend and we’re very creative people and like to make music during our free time.
10. Who has been the biggest inspiration?
Hands down, my dad has been my biggest inspiration. The football part, he’s 1000% in, he makes sure I have everything I need, makes sure I’m doing all the training I need. Whatever I need, he provides for me, and I couldn’t thank him enough. More than that, he’s shown me how to lead a family and how to be a man. And how to care and provide for your children in a way that will benefit them in the long run. On top of that, it’s not just me, I have teammates and childhood friends that he’s taken in and provided for as a father figure to them. Seeing him inspire other kids around me that don’t have the same circumstances has been the biggest inspiration that he’s given me. His heart is huge, he doesn’t care who you are or where you come from.
11. What place on campus are you most looking forward to being back at when we all are able to return?
The Frank, of course, Franklin Field. I will be on that field every day. I will spend most of the time in the training room, the locker room, on the football field, just in the stadium and in that environment again. We’ve been away from it so long, it doesn’t feel normal, and it feels like something is missing.
12. Who is your favorite professional athlete?
LeBron James. I think he’s the greatest, not only basketball player, but athlete of all time. But also seeing what he does off the court, and outside of sports is truly inspirational. I would say he’s my biggest inspiration besides my dad. He knows how to provide and give back to his community and it’s not in a very flashy way. He’s very behind the scenes but he’s also very impactful in terms of the youth. Even if he’s not doing something specifically in communities, he’s going to inspire you to be great from his story. Fatherless home, single mother, struggling, but he turned into one of the greatest athletes of all time.
13. What’s your Netflix binge recommendation?
I’ve been trying to find something on Netflix, but I haven’t been able to lately. But on Hulu, I would say "Snowfall." I mean you have to make sure you’re old enough, but it’s a very interesting show. Me and my roommate finally started watching it and I’m sad that we finished it.
14. Do you have a go-to touchdown celebration?
I actually don’t, that’s something I think I need to work on. It just depends on the point in the game, what type of touchdown, if it was a hard touchdown, an easy touchdown. I don’t really have a set, go-to celebration.
15. What’s your biggest piece of advice for someone starting out with football?
Train every day that you can and take care of your body from the minute you start playing football. There’s so much stuff that I know now, that I wish I would’ve known in high school. There’s so many things I could’ve done differently to fully reach my potential in high school, which is to take advantage of training. Your body is your temple, and without your body you can’t do anything on the football field. Perfecting your craft any way you can, and it doesn’t always have to be physically, you can train your mind and watch film and you can watch different receivers’ games.
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