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Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Matt Acree, DT, Drake University

matt acree1Every 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?

My name is Matt Acree

What is your Height/Weight?

6’2’’ at 290 pounds

What is your position?

Defensive Tackle

Where do you play college football?

Drake University

How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?

I heard from at least a dozen teams from all levels of competition. I visited a range of schools from Coffeyville Community College to Northwestern of the Big 10.

How did you choose your school?

My top priority was finding a school that would provide me with the best opportunity to earn as much play time as possible at the Division I level.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Shawnee, Kansas.

Who is your role model, and why?

My Dad is my role model. An essay would not suffice to cover the reasons why I look up to him. What I try best to emulate is his work ethic. His ability to smash a goal and reset the threshold is frightening. He is absolutely the consummate man.

Have any scouts met with you yet, and if so what are they saying?

I have spoken with several scouts. Each of the conversations were similar in that concerns were expressed over my success at a mid-major school, essentially my odds of making it into the professional ranks are slim

Did you play any other sports growing up?

I played baseball exclusively up until the sixth grade when my mom finally allowed me to play football. All of my other friends started playing in fourth and fifth grade. From middle school on I played football in the fall and baseball in the spring. My junior year of high school I picked up track and field when baseball became redundant.

matt acreeDid you play any other positions in football?

I can play every position on the defensive line. I definitely prefer to play 3 technique, although moving outside to 5 tech is a fun change up. I played nose guard out of necessity when asked too.  

At your position, what separates you from others?

I have a high capacity motor; it was not unusual for me to take 70 reps in a game. I have strong hand fighting skills coupled with quick lateral movement. I am able to slant gaps easily while engaging and disengaging offensive linemen fluidly.

When you are breaking down film, what do you look for?

When assessing my own performance I am critical of my technique, I look closely at my first step followed by hand placement and strike. Aside from technique I look to see how disruptive I am to the offensive play. While producing stats is fun, ruining an offensive attempt with physicality is euphoric. When I study my opponents I am trying to gain an understanding of how athletic he is. In the run game I study how aggressive he is, does he fire out hard and low? Where do his hands tend to fall? Is he a good holder? In the pass game I look at his hips and hands. If he has good hips then he will be better suited to counter my pass rush moves. His hands tell me what I can do. I look to see if he shoots them hi/low and early/late.

Who was the toughest player you ever faced?

We played UNI in 2013. Their right guard at the time, I think his name was Davis, was a massive human being. I had a ball fighting him; it was a very personally satisfying game.

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be and why?

I am a huge Justin Smith fan, I love watching him play the game. Naturally I tried to model my play style after him. He stands out to me as particularly relentless and brutally strong. I believe I share those qualities.

What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?

I was diagnosed with mono in the second week of camp this past season. I missed two and half weeks of camp and the opening game. Recovering from mono and getting back into game shape was painful. It took three a day weights/conditioning to get healthy. While I was cleared to play in the second game, it wasn’t until week five of the season I regained 100% capacity.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

I would always find a comfortable spot in our field house and lay down to relax, not terribly uncommon. What I always do to build my emotions is listen to The Planets by Gutav Holst.

What is your biggest strength?

I am highly disciplined, when the goal is set I will commit fully to the best plan of attack.

What is your biggest weakness?

I am a perfectionist, I tend to over analyze when things go wrong and briefly lose sight of the next play mentality.

If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?

I have never failed to meet coaches’ expectations as a leader and athlete.

Who was your favorite player and NFL team growing up?

Justin Smith of the 49ers is absolutely my favorite player. I have always and will always root for my hometown Kansas City Chiefs.

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would you choose?

General George S. Patton, Clint Eastwood, Rudyard Kipling

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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