Darnell Savage Jr. doesn’t shy away from a challenge. As far back as he can remember, he’s been proving doubters wrong and shattering the expectations set for him.

“Even as a young kid, I always felt like I had something to prove,” Savage said. “I feel like I hold myself to a higher standard than anybody. I think my goals are far above what other people would expect them to be.”

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So, while some may have been shocked to see Green Bay pick Savage with the 21st overall pick in the draft, he viewed it as confirmation of his talents and a chance to show the rest of the world what he’s really made of.

Eastbay got to sit down with the 21-year-old defensive back, and he gave us some insight on how he prepared himself for the spotlight. His three pieces of advice are:

1. Embrace your setbacks. They only make you stronger.

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In his junior year of high school, Savage broke his right femur, resulting in a long road to recovery that would challenge the young star mentally and physically. But Savage didn’t use the injury as an excuse – he vowed to come back bigger, faster, and stronger.

“Just being out of football and not being able to do simple stuff on my own was definitely difficult,” Savage said. “It challenged me mentally but also helped me grow as a player and a person. Luckily, I only broke a bone and bones heal. So I’m actually thankful for it.”

2. Become a student of the game

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When Savage entered the draft, most of the talk about the promising prospect revolved around his physical attributes. Media and scouts alike focused on his gaudy combine numbers and insane play speed in the secondary. But if you ask Savage himself, he says that his understanding of the game is what makes him stand out in a league filled with talented defensive backs.

“My best attribute is my mind. I’m an extremely smart football player and that allows me to play a lot faster and with a lot more confidence,” Savage said. “Knowing what everybody on the field is trying to do also allows me to play in a bunch of different spots. I can play corner, nickel, or safety, and I think that brings value.”

3. Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk.

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Savage’s last piece of advice is simple and straightforward – if you’re going to talk up your play off the field, you better be able to back it up on the field.

“I’m usually pretty quiet and humble because at the end of the day, it’s your play that speaks,” Savage said. “You can say whatever you want, but once the coaches turn on the tape, they’re either going to see what you said or they’re going to see something completely different. So, if I do talk about my abilities, I mean it, and I’ll back it up when I’m out there on the field.”

To shop the Under Armour Rush product and training gear Darnell Savage Jr. uses to elevate his game at the highest level, visit eastbay.com.