How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
Coming out of high school there were four teams heavily recruiting me for football, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, Carroll College, and Whitworth College. My high school team did not have the best record and was not known for sports, which seemed to hurt me during the recruiting process.
Where did you choose and why?
After going on a recruiting trip to both Central Washington University and Eastern Washington University, I ended up choosing Eastern. After speaking with Coach Beau Baldwin, I realized he truly wanted to develop a championship program on the national level at Eastern and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Everybody I spoke to, including players and coaches were all like family, they all got along well, loved the team, and I met some of the hardest working athletes during my visit who went on to play at the next level.
What were your goals for your senior year?
My goals for my senior year were to be a starter at the cornerback position, 1st Team All-Big Sky Conference, and to lead the team with interceptions. At first I was not the starter, I rotated with All American Cornerback TJ Lee III, so I played every special teams to get on the field as much as possible. I kept telling myself my chance would come, but for now focus on special teams and be the best you can be on those until you get back to corner. Finally towards the end of the season, I proved to my coach I was ready, and I got my first start of my career. I ended up getting 3 interceptions in the last 5 games, and because for most the year I was on special teams, I was voted Big Sky 1st Teams/Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Year. I ended up second on the team for interceptions, but I got 2 out of 3 of my goals, so I can’t complain.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
I have not met with any scouts. I have spoken to many agents, but due to the fact that the corner I rotated with was an All-American, I was overshadowed until the last half of the season. From the people that I have spoken with, agents and professional players, they are saying that with my athleticism and size, the combination of my cornerback ability with my Special Teams abilities are going to be a huge factor for NFL scouts. Now things are heating up with pro-day and the Regional NFL Combine in Seattle coming up.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
At my position at cornerback, my athleticism separates me from the others. My size, 6’ 200lbs, allows me to use my strength in the run game and easily defeat blocks, but while having great size, I still maintain the quickness and speed of smaller defenders which makes me a very versatile player. Not only athleticism though, intelligence; I have spent hours in the film room studying, preparing, and learning the game of football. When it comes to special teams, my speed and strength are a huge factor. Being able to flat out defeat my blockers with straight speed as well as use strength to eliminate the blocks helps me be a dynamic special teams player. Contact is my favorite part of the game, so special teams really suits me well.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
When I’m breaking down film I look for multiple things. The first time going through I will watch each receiver, draw their routes on the board or paper, study their habits, tendencies, and athletic abilities. After doing a complete analysis of the receivers, I will go back and watch complete games so I can get a feel of the flow of the game, that way you can see what a team’s tendencies are in certain situations, for example, do they throw certain routes more often on 3rd down, red zone tendencies, etc. The first thing I learned once I started playing college football was that the smartest players seemed to be the best, so I have tried to emulate that into myself.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
The toughest player that I ever faced was probably my own teammate and member of the Buffalo Bills, Brandon Kaufman. He had great size, but amazing hands. You could be playing perfect coverage, have your hand on the ball, and he would still come down with it somehow. It was always a battle doing one on one drills during practice with that guy.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
If I could compare myself to one person in the NFL, it would probably be Brandon Browner. I play big, love to come up on the run and force contact, but also once the deep ball is up, I become a receiver and track the ball. I have enough size and athleticism, that if it is a jump ball, I will not be out jumped for it.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle in my life I had to overcome was my size. I was born prematurely (3 lbs.), so I was literally the smallest kid on all of my sports teams until my sophomore year in high school. Kids use to tell me I would never even become a college football player let alone a professional one. I was always fast though, so I always competed in everything I did, but my dream since I was a toddler was to be an NFL player, so size was definitely an issue. Once in high school I hit a growth spurt and gained 40 lbs in a year and a half, and then once I got to college I hit one more, and now I’m considered a larger cornerback!
What system fits your style of play the best?
Having 3 different defensive coaches during my collegiate career, I am versatile in any system. Man and zone coverages. I like straight man to man coverage because it allows you to be on an island and it’s just you and the receiver; it lets your athleticism shine. I also like zone coverage too because it allows me to be a bigger part of the run game and I love hitting people. I really can play in any system.
What is your biggest strength?
My biggest strength is my speed. My 40 time is between a 4.3 and 4.4, so speed is definitely my strength. Also my aggressiveness is a huge strength.
What is your biggest weakness?
My biggest weakness is tackling low. I most of the time want to go straight for a ball carriers chest for the kill shot. I do not miss very many tackles, but I could tackle lower.
Growing up, who was your role model?
I would say I am the hardest worker you will ever meet. I do not ever give up. I take pride in gaining knowledge not only on the field, but in the classroom. My role models have been my parents and my family. They live by the fact and have told me that hard work will always pay off. I have instilled that into myself as well.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
Marcus Trufant and the Seattle Seahawks. I was a huge Washington State University fan while Trufant played there. I was able to watch lots of his games. He played corner and he was on special teams so I could connect with his playing style. Once he was drafted to the Seahawks I naturally became a huge fan of the team. Ironically, their training camp was held at Eastern Washington University where I met Marcus Trufant for the first time when I was in middle school.
What was the most tragic event that ever happened in your life and how did you overcome it?
I have been fortunate enough to live a pretty blessed life. The most tragic thing that happened was when I lost both of my grandpa’s and a close family friend all in the span of about 5 months. I overcame it by being with my supportive family and wife and praying about it. Try to live life like they would have wanted me to. They were all huge fans of football.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
I would like to have dinner with Muhammad Ali, Richard Sherman, and Shaun White. These are all guys who were the best at what they do. I would ask hundreds of questions about how they got to where they are.
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
With my first paycheck, I would probably put half into savings and not touch it and use the other half for a down payment on a small house and possibly a new black GMC Yukon.
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