The tall man with the easy grin looked familiar.
But the words that came out of his mouth, they were so different, so thoughtful, so downright ... mature.
Was it really Dwayne Jarrett?
The perpetually disappointing receiver has been one of the stars of the Carolina Panthers training camp, fighting to dispel years of criticism he earned through his own actions - or, more appropriately, inaction.
But this new guy who talked to reporters Sunday morning sounded almost serious, almost professional - things he was never accused of in the past. He acknowledged he let things slide during his first three years - and that acknowledgment perhaps best represents the leap forward.
"I wouldn't say I regret it. I just wasn't aware," Jarrett said of his first three years. "It was all a part of growing up and becoming a pro. I didn't quite fully understand that, what it took. The offseason workouts, watching your diet and the little things, the details of becoming a pro.
"Once I got it, I took it and I ran with it."
In the past, Jarrett would smile politely and say he was working hard, trying to make plays, and then he'd slump off to do whatever it was he did. Now, to see him in practice, you'd never know he was the guy who became a lightning rod back home. He looks like an actual player, the guy the Panthers thought they had when they chose him 45th overall in 2007.
He's still a little on the harmlessly goofy side. He dresses like every other kid in this camp but wears a bright red rubber wristwatch that adds to the youthful effect. Then there's the way he forgot before Thursday's game to take out the spike piercing under his lip - an odd choice of facial jewelry - and you can't help but laugh sometimes.
But there's a gravity about him now, a realization that he might be down to his last chance. After all, he came out of Southern Cal with such promise, with 41 touchdowns in three seasons. But in three seasons here, he has just one, caught in last year's finale against New Orleans' JVs. He also has a drunken driving arrest and the public scorn of teammate Steve Smith and the fan base on his resume, which includes more off-field frustrations than on-field highlights.
"I think I took a lot of low blows coming in my first couple of years, just because I did have a lot of downs," he said. "I'm definitely strong, and I fought through everything, all the negativity. I just tried to stay positive and focused on what I have to do to become a better player."
It's worth noting that Jarrett is 23 years old, only two months older than rookie Brandon LaFell. That's part of the reason the Panthers were hesitant to jettison him when they had just cause.
"I got drafted so young; I just turned 20," he said. "With me growing up and becoming a young adult, I was kind of like a teenager in the NFL. With that and having the experience of everything that I went through to this point, it's definitely a growth process in the three years I've been here."
He also is benefiting from a fresh start, with new receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. As much as any new techniques Tolbert taught him, it was a chance to create a new reputation that seems to have lifted a weight off Jarrett.
"I don't care about what he did in the past. He has a clean slate with me," Tolbert said. "When I got there and they were telling me about the guys, they had said he's been a little inconsistent and I said, 'You know what, I'm going to work with him and we'll see what he's going to be from this day forward.' He's done a great job up until this point, so hopefully he keeps it up."
Tolbert and other coaches rave about what they see on the field. Jarrett has large, soft hands that catch anything near him. He's even blocking and exhibiting effort, things that were not a given in the past. His 6-foot-4 frame allows him to clear out space against smaller defensive backs, the kind of presence Tolbert can't teach.
"He doesn't have to be open to be open, if you know what I mean," Tolbert said.
But the new seriousness Jarrett's exhibiting extends to his offseason, as he paid closer attention to his diet and dropped about 10 pounds, allowing him to come to camp feeling faster.
So if there's any hesitance to trust him based on past performance - or lack thereof - there's a sense among his co-workers that he's starting to get it, starting to behave like a man.
"It's all a part about growing up," Jarrett said with a grin. "The NFL, if anybody could do it, everybody would be doing it. I had to get around that learning curve.
"I just thank God for just getting me the work ethic to get to this point. ... "I think the more they've seen how hard I worked, especially coming in in shape this year, having good (organized team activities), they've seen the difference. You've got to crawl before you can walk."