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Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Garrett Waggoner, S, Dartmouth

garrett waggonerDraft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Garrett Waggoner, S, Dartmouth 
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
I had a lot of interest from most of Ivies coming out of high school, along with some of the other high academic FCS programs. Late in the process I had an offer from Duke but had already visited and committed to Dartmouth and wanted to stay true to my word.
Where did you choose and why?
I chose Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. It has great prestige as being one of the finest academic institutions in the world, as well as fielding an FCS level football program.
What were your goals for your senior year?
Senior year I wanted to win the Ivy League Championship, we ended up second in the league so I think I will always have a chip on my shoulder about not finishing the mission. The program was 0-10 the year before I arrived so it’s grown by leaps and bounds and I am excited to see what they do the coming season.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
I’ve met with a good amount of scouts, both at my Junior Day last year and Pro Day this year. I think I’ve flown a bit under the radar coming into the draft process but along with my agent Glen Lanksy and his agency, Elite Sports out of Tampa and my numbers I have put up at the regional combines and my Pro Day I think we are definitely turning some heads.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
I think my blend of size and athleticism helps me do some things others at my position can’t. With my size and strength I can walk down and play in the box, I’m comfortable handling Linemen and match up very well with Tight Ends both in the run and pass game. At the same time I have the speed and agility to match up with Receivers in Man to Man coverage further down field.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
When breaking down film its a few step process for me. First, I really focus first on personnel groupings to see what weapons the other team has on the field at any given time. Then, I move to formations to see what sets are the other teams favorite’s, and run/pass tendencies out of each. Finally, once I have a good feel on the big picture I try to look for tendencies in certain players. Starting with the QB, whether he looks off the safeties or stares down his targets, who his favorite receiver is, etc. For the receivers I look to width of alignment to figure out the routes they like to run from where, and to stance for any tendencies for route choices. Running Backs’ stances and depths of alignments can be big indicators of not only run/pass but also what types of plays could be coming.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
Tough question, but I would have to go with Kyle Juszczyk, TE/H-Back from Harvard and currently with the Ravens. He did a lot of different things for them two years ago when we played them at home and we did a good job keying him and neutralizing him throughout the game.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I really like how Kam Chancellor plays the game after seeing a lot of him this past postseason. He brings a physicality to the game that I really try to emulate, and he has the flexibility to be a force in defending both the run and the pass, making it difficult for opposing offenses to gameplan against him.
What system fits your style of play the best?
The system I played in during college was multi-faceted in its scheme so I have experience playing multiple roles, depending on our package I could be a lone high safety in a Cover 1/3 scheme, the SS in a two high safety shell, and finally I have walked down and played a hybrid Safety/Outside Backer role depending on what scheme our coaches thought would give us the best opportunity for success and shutting down the opposing offense.
What is your biggest strength?
I think my athleticism and football knowledge/instincts are my greatest assets. When combined, I can use my football knowledge and film study to put me in a position to make a play for my team, and then I can use my athleticism to make that play.
What is your biggest weakness?
I think coming from a smaller conference like the Ivy League, a big knock on my game is the level of competition. I think my testing numbers speak from themselves (4.51/40, 43″/Vertical, 4.15/Shuttle, 10’3″/Broad Jump, 25 Bench Reps) and can attest to my athleticism and ability to compete with the top players in the country. And that despite the small conference reputation, the Ivy League had 3 draft picks this past year.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
I will be an asset to the team and help win games both on defense and special teams. I will bring a flexibility to a defense with my knowledge of different positions and athleticism and ability to do multiple things to help the team. I won’t be outworked on the field, in the film room, or in the weight room, hard work is really how I have come from an undersized high school Linebacker to where I am now.
Growing up, who was your role model?
My parents were always my role models as they did a great job raising me and my two sisters and always were there for us no matter what.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
I’ve always been a Ravens fan despite not having much of a connection with the team, I have really just always liked the style of physical defense they have played and the attitude with which they attack each opposing offense. Todd Johnson, former Riverview High School/University of Florida, safety has always been my favorite player coming from the same high school and seeing him make so many plays over his years in the league.
What was the most tragic event that ever happened in your life and how did you overcome it?
I have been very blessed and fortunate thus far in my life to have not had to deal with many things others in my position have battled through. However, my grandfather who played college football at Tulane, was drafted by the Eagles, then played professionally for years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL was one of my biggest football heroes, he passed away when I was 14 and never got a chance to see me play high school or college football while he was here. But every Friday, Saturday, and hopefully Sundays this coming fall I know he’s always looking down over me.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
Jesus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dick LeBeau. The first two speak for themselves, and the last is arguably one of the greatest NFL defensive minds of all time, gotta talk a little football at this dinner.
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
Tough question, but I think I would use it to fly my closest friends and family to my first NFL game so they could see me play as they have all supported me so much over the years.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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