Every year, NFL Draft Diamonds brings our readers the best in depth interviews on the internet. We specialize in giving players an opportunity to showcase their talents on our website. We conducted interviews last year with over 300 plus players. We want you to enjoy our interviews, because when these young men are in the league, we will not be surprised, and neither should you.
What is your name?
What is your Height/Weight?
6’3″, 226 lbs
What is your position?
Where do you play college football?
Indiana State University, transferred from Western Michigan University (2010-2012)
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
I had FBS scholarship offers from six Mid-Major Schools and was being recruited by Purdue and Iowa.
How did you choose your school?
I chose Western Michigan in late June prior to my senior season. At the time I had offers from Bowling Green, Ball State, and Western Michigan and I really loved the coaches and system at WMU. They were graduating a quarterback, Tim Hiller, so I was hoping I would be able to come in and compete as a true freshman. Once I got there, the following summer, I felt I had the skills to compete at that level but I was put behind the Redshirt Sophomore who inherited the quarterback position. So after a spring and another season I felt I wasn’t getting the opportunity I deserved to compete for the starting position and I wanted to play. Coach Cubit was very understanding and in fact helped me find an FCS program to transfer to and play immediately. In the Spring of 2012, I chose Indiana State over Maine and North Dakota. I really liked what Coach Trent Miles was doing as well as the offensive coordinators, Dave Telford and Harold Etheridge.
Where are you from?
I grew up in a southwest suburb of Chicago named Frankfort. I went to high school in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago at Marist High School, a Catholic school.
Who is your role model, and why?
Someone I really looked up to as a kid was Zak Kustok. He was a close family friend of my families and he played quarterback for Northwestern in the early 2000’s. I went to a ton of his games and loved watching them. That was when I really found my interest in playing football. He was not only a great player but like an older cousin to me that I learned a lot from just watching him and talking with him at holiday dinners.
Have any scouts met with you yet, and if so what are they saying?
I haven’t met with any scouts yet. There were a few at practices but I have not had the opportunity to talk with them. I would love that opportunity though, and would really feel like interview types of conversations would be beneficial to realize some of my biggest strengths of understanding the game of football.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
I played basketball and baseball from the time I could walk all the way through high school. I was a Guard in basketball, but since I was the biggest player on our team I guarded the Center on defense. Playing on the Southside of Chicago, I’ve played against some very good players including outscoring Frank Kaminski of Wisconsin when I was a Senior and he was a Junior. I was also an all conference and all area pitcher in high school. I was recruited by quite a few mid major baseball programs but decided I wanted to play football in college.
Did you play any other positions in football?
I have always played quarterback ever since I started flag football. I occasionally played defensive end and safety when I was much younger.
At your position, what separates you from others?
I think as a quarterback the main attribute that separates me from others is my understanding of the game. I have been told I have a very high football IQ and have also been exposed to many different types of offenses. At WMU we ran a pro-style offense with a ton of check keys. Every play we were responsible to get the offense in the best play possible. Then under Coach Miles at Indiana State, we ran a power running offense where I needed to understand how to find weaknesses in heavy boxes by motioning receivers and backs and checking into the best run play. We also did a ton of play action passing in that offense. Then my first year under Coach Sanford, we ran a shotgun read option run game with full-field-read passing game concepts. I was responsible for setting the offensive line in all protections and run fits as well. Finally, my senior season under Coach Sanford, we ran an Air Raid offense where we led the FCS in passing attempts and completions. The passing game was still full field reads and the run game consisted of receiver screens based off of the defender in the gray area (involved both in the box and coverage). I think I also throw very accurate passes that are anticipated well. I think that is a key in the NFL because of how fast the defenses are and how much man-to-man is played. I have also been told my footwork in the pocket is very good.
When you are breaking down film, what do you look for?
As a quarterback there is a lot that goes into breaking down film. There is a whole process from Sunday through Gameday that takes place to know as much as possible about the opposing defense to give you clues on what they are playing. Every play has the opportunity to show one of those tips where you can get your offense into a touchdown play. Starting on Sunday, I first watch our game from the day before. I think this really gives me an opportunity to find things to improve on. After that, I pick three to four games of the next opponent to watch. I usually pick their latest game, our game from the year before (if there was one), and two games with an offense that runs a similar offense to ours. While watching those games I look for their base alignment (4 down/3 down front, Under/Over, where linebackers play, alley defenders, safety alignment/roll, corner leverage, etc.). Another thing I look at is who their best players are and who their weakest players are. I then get an idea of their defensive philosophy (blitz/cover, man/zone, pack the box, 3rd Down, Red Zone, etc.). These basic ideas give me something to look for throughout the week as my other workload of being a student picks up. During all of this I make sure I take notes so I have something to reference to when I get to the more in depth sessions later in the week. Monday, I watch base downs (first and second down) between the -20 and +25 and look for their tendencies. In our film system we can perform queries from the information and get percentages on coverages, fronts, blitzes, and many other things. We also can sort the plays by down and distance, field position, coverage, blitz, etc. From these sorted queries I can tell the consistencies they show in coverages and how they differ from each other. This is especially important in seeing blitzes since teams will change the front and roll safeties and so on which will give me a tip for the game. I will sort them by formation first and foremost so each tip comes from the same formation since defenses play formations differently. So everyday I look for the same things but in different situations and each situation will put an emphasis on another part of what I look for. On Tuesday I watch 3rd Downs and Red Zone and break each of those into different areas. 3rd and: +10, 8-10, 3-7, and 1-2 are my different sections of 3rd downs. The Red Zone is broken down into +25- +20, +19- +12, +11- +5, +4- Goalline. In each of these scenarios defenses usually have a different philosophy where they will play certain coverages, or blitz more or less. For example 3rd and +10 teams may drop eight and make you try to force it into a tight window. On 3rd and 8-10 they may bring a cover zero blitz and make you get the ball out quick and tackle you short of the first down. Then in the Red Zone teams might blitz heavily from the +25- +20 to try to get a sack and knock you out of field goal range. Then on Wednesday I look at special situations like 2 minute, coming out (-5 to -0 yd line), overtime, end of game plays, 4 minute, etc. I really focus on 2 minute because we will do that in the middle of the game sometimes. Again, I break each situation down by formation and field position. I look for tendencies in coverages and blitzes and the tips that give them away. On Thursday, I really look heavily into the exact plays on our gameplan and the possible looks we will get on each of them. I then make up lists of what will make the play unsuccessful and what to check to in those situations. For example we run an over concept out of 11 personnel in a 3×1, with a split receiver to the boundary and a TE, Slot, and Split receiver to the field. The back is away from the TE and is free releasing leaving me with a 5 man protection. If I get a cover 0 look which I’ve seen them run on 3rd and 8-10, I will check the protection to keep the back and TE in and give the single receiver a quick route in case someone gets beat on the snap, and a smash concept to the field because I know the safety is inside leverage and a poor cover guy on #2. So I now know I am picked up because the safety and backer guarding the back and TE need to make sure they don’t run a route before they blitz. I also have a quick route if the protection doesn’t go as planned and have a kill shot with my #2 if the protection holds. Also, Smash is a great play if they bluff and drop into cover 2, 3, or 4. So I then have plans like that for every formation and play in the gameplan, even to check to run plays if they look like they are trying to take away the pass. On Friday we travel and I review my notes for the gameplan as well as the tips and reminders I receive from Coach Sheppard, my QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator. I’ll watch some film to remind myself of different things I will expect. On gameday if there is something else I need to watch quick I can watch it on my phone but I am now prepared and ready to go.
Who was the toughest player you ever faced?
The best player I’ve played against, though not directly because he plays offense, is Tevin Coleman from Indiana. The best player I personally played against was probably Kyle Emanuel from North Dakota State. He was the Buck Buchanan Award winner this year.
If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be and why?
I would like to compare myself to Tom Brady. I am very competitive and fiery on the field. I expect a lot out of myself and teammates. I think he has a very good football IQ and does a great job of getting the ball to his playmakers even though he has never had the best receiving corps. He has always found a way to win and I think that is something I have shown by leading Indiana State to two of its best seasons in 30 years and playing in December for the first time in program history. I also, led my high school team to the state championship for the first time in 23 years and only the second time in program history.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
Something that was very tough to go through was my family friends, the Kustok’s, had a tragedy my freshman year of college when Mrs. Kustok was murdered by Mr. Kustok. They were like family to me and were very special. It came out of no where and really shocked me and everyone close to them. It was something that didn’t make any sense and bothered me for quite some time. I became a Christian the following spring and have relied on God that Mrs. Kustok is with Him and sometimes terrible things happen but God is there to support us and has a plan for us.
Before games I always pray for the safety of everyone involved in the game and the families and fans traveling. I also pray God gives me and my teammates calm minds so we can perform to the best of our abilities for His glory. I thank Him for the opportunity to still be playing football.
What is your biggest strength?
I think my mind again is my biggest strength. I also have a high level of composure from being raised tough and having faith God will make it work. I was awarded the Leadership Award for my team where we had the biggest turn around in NCAA football this year. That is my most prized award because it shows my leadership had an impact on a high level of some very impressive and strong men who were my teammates. Some of my physical strengths would be good footwork and I can feel pressure and get the ball out quickly or leave the pocket and throw on the run. I also have a strong arm, am accurate, am a quick decision maker, and tough.
What is your biggest weakness?
I think my biggest weakness is not being a great athlete. I am not super fast and don’t do great on combine types of drills. I think I have the ability to scramble for a first down on like a 3rd and 10, but I don’t have the speed to break away for a 40 or 50 yard run.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
I would say I am a very hard worker and very competitive, so I will do everything it takes to be a part of your team. I have the intangibles that are tough to teach like leadership, toughness, and football IQ. I have the skills to play at this level and with an opportunity I will be sure to capitalize on it. I believe after a quick adjustment to the terminology and speed of the NFL I have the ability to be an important part of your team.
Who was your favorite player and NFL team growing up?
My favorite team has always been the Chicago Bears, but they’ve never had a good Quarterback during my lifetime. Jim McMahon was the best I’ve ever heard of but I wasn’t alive when he was playing so I can’t count him. The worst thing is when I was a kid and even now I always loved the Packers quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but I had to hate them because they played for the Packers. So my favorite player from the time I was about 12 on was Tom Brady.
If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would you choose?
Jesus Christ, Moses, and Michael Jordan. I’d have Leonardo DaVinci be our waiter and he’d sit down and talk with us as well.