J.C. Tretter saw the “920” Wisconsin area code pop up on his phone and figured the moment had arrived.
The Green Bay Packers were calling Saturday afternoon to inform Tretter, an Akron native, that they were drafting him into the NFL, using the 122nd overall selection in the fourth round.
“It was wild,” Tretter said. “I talked to a bunch of people in the organization, and it started to well up inside me. I think back to all those times doing all the hard work and putting everything you can into it and knowing what you’ve dreamed of is finally coming true. I’m just extremely excited about it.”
Tretter didn’t have the Packers on his radar coming into the draft. He had met with them informally at the combine, but didn’t make a pre-draft visit or work out for them.
“That was all the contact that I had,” he said. “They weren’t one of the teams that were high up on my ideas of who would be interested.”
Nevertheless, Tretter lands in a solid spot. He gets to block for MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who signed a contract extension just days ago that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
“It’s a perfect fit, I feel like. It’ll be great to get with Aaron and see what he sees, get on the same page with him. He’s a great guy to learn from with all that he’s done at quarterback,” Tretter said. “I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”
Tretter will graduate from Cornell on May 26 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial labor relations, then relocate to Wisconsin.
He said the Packers haven’t given him any indication as to which position he’ll play, but most of his pre-draft work has been on the interior of the offensive line at guard and center. He played the first two years of his college career at tight end, the last two at left tackle.
“They didn’t give me a clear-cut idea of what position it was that they were interested in,” he said. “I wanted to be as versatile as possible and I wanted to be able to help the team out wherever they needed help. I’ll do whatever they want of me.”
“Once we get him here and see how things work out, we’ll put him in the place we feel best that he can help us win games,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s a very versatile player. A very smart player. He’s a very mature kid that understands the game of football and has a lot of upside.”
Campen said he liked Tretter’s willingness to play to the whistle.
“He does finish,” he said. “He stays engaged with his person. He does a good job with the fundamentals, maintains proper base, width, those types of things. And he’s an active hands player. I mean, he’s going to punch you all the way through the block.”
While some scouting reports on Tretter have suggested he needs to add strength, Campen didn’t sound concerned by it. Tretter did 29 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Tretter will join Niagara Falls native and University at Buffalo product James Starks on the Packers’ roster, at least for the time being. NFL.com reported Saturday that Green Bay is interested in trading Starks after drafting Alabama star Eddie Lacy in the second round and UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin in the fourth round.
Tretter was an All-Western New York honorable mention selection as a senior with Akron in 2008. He celebrated Saturday surrounded by friends and family, including his father, Joe, mother, Cynthia, and sister, Katherine. He was also joined by some of his Cornell teammates.
“We tried to keep it kind of small. We wanted it to be quiet enough where you could hear everything, see what’s developing,” he said. “We’ve got a big crowd hanging out now. It’s great.”