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NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Matthew Pyke, OC, East Tennessee State University

Matthew Pyke of ETSU is one of the most underrated prospects in the entire NFL Draft. This kid can play

  • Name: Matthew Pyke
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 302
  • Position: Center
  • College: East Tennessee State University
  • Twitter: MatthewPyke57

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

  • My hometown of Clinton, Tennessee is a small town about 15 minutes north of Knoxville. It was a great place to grow up as an athlete because the community is very passionate about sports, especially football. Throughout my college career I have gotten endless support from the people back home and that has pushed me to work even harder than I ever have.

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

  • Practice- I think that practice is the most important aspect of the game of football. In practice you are able to see all of the different looks that you are going to see throughout a game and work on blocking those looks at full speed.
  • Film study- Film study is just as important as practice if you are going to play at a high level. I think players should have watched as much film as possible before they get onto the practice field so they are not shocked by any of the looks they are getting. This is also important because you can tell what fronts you are going to get to certain formations and you can see how your opponent plays certain blocks.
  • Strength and Conditioning- It is hard for me to put this at the end of the list because I know just how important it is in football. If you are going to play offensive line, these are two things that you are going to have to take very seriously throughout your career. You can never be strong enough or in good enough shape and that is how I like to look at it.

What do you worry about, and why?

  • One of my biggest fears is being out worked by someone and missing out on an opportunity. That is how I try to approach each day and I think this helps me to work as hard as I possibly can.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

  • My junior year of college I failed a class and that was really an eye-opener for me. Up to that point I had never failed a class and that motivated me to finish strong in the end of my college career.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

  • I would say my teammates think my best quality is being composed at every stage of the game and throughout the season. Never letting myself or my guys get too high or too low during a game and just being consistent in everything that I do. I have tried to emphasize consistency over the past 5 years and try to show up to the facility the same person every day.

September 23, 2017 – Johnson City, Tennessee – William B. Greene Jr. Stadium: ETSU offensive lineman Matt Pyke (57), ETSU offensive lineman Ben Blackmon (65)
Image Credit: Dakota Hamilton/ETSU

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

  • This is a very tough choice because the SOCON is full of tremendous talent, especially on the defensive line. I would say that the toughest player was Shy Tuttle out of the University of Tennessee. He was a great player when is big athletic and used his hands very well. A very close second would have to be Miles Brown out of Wofford. He is another big, strong, athletic guy who plays with great leverage and never gives up on a play. Miles and I have played against each other for the past 3 years and it is a very fun matchup when we play Wofford each year. He is without a doubt one of the smartest players I have played against in college and his film shows that.

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football?

  • If I couldn’t play football I would likely want to get into coaching. I have a love for football that I just cannot give up. As this was my senior year I have tried to think of my life and what it would be without the game of football and I cannot think of anything that I would rather be doing.

Room, desk and car – which do you clean first?

  • I would clean my room first for sure. I have always been sort of a neat freak and I cannot stand when my room gets messy.

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

  • If I were in this situation I would definitely have to save my family member. Faith, family and football have always been my priorities in life and that would help make this decision easy for me. I would feel bad about leaving the stranger and once we are safe, I may even talk to my family member about going back and trying to help the strangers.

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

  •     If I could be any character I would be Cordell Walker from Walker, Texas Ranger. I remember watching all of the old episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger when I was a kid and thinking that Chuck Norris was the coolest guy on the planet.

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

  • I think that my biggest adversity in life was when I broke my ankle my freshman year of high school. I was playing DL for my high school team and I broke my ankle in only the second game of the year and I was forced to miss the rest of the year. That was a difficult injury to come back from, but I just had to trust the recovery process and let it heal over time.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

  • One time when I was in 6th grade, I started slacking in school and was showing up to class without a pencil or paper. My teachers called and let my mom know and she not very happy with me. After talking to me that night she got another call from my teacher who told her that the same thing was happening and then when she got home that day she said she was going to school with me the next day. I just laughed and thought she was kidding, but my mom really went to school with me to every class one day in 6th grade. I haven’t had any problems in school since that day.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

  • The most memorable play of my college career was on a 2 point play from our game against Western Carolina this year to send us into overtime. We had already had to fight back from a big deficit to even tie the game and my quarterback Austin Herink scored on a draw right behind me and my right guard.

What song best describes your work ethic?

  • Family Man –Craig Campbell

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non Physical) to help you succeed at the next level?

  • The most important trait I have is my football intelligence. I think that there are certain things about football that have always just made sense to me since I was a kid. I have had the chance to play for some great coaches in my career, but I learned a lot about football in this past season from the new coaching staff at ETSU. I also believe that I bring consistency to my team and try to make the player around me better.

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

  • My grandfather without a doubt. Since I was a little kid, my papaw was my best friend and we spent almost every day together. He taught me so much about life in the 14 years that I had with him and he also taught me how to work, which has helped me greatly so far in my life.

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it?

  • The Library

Who is the most overrated player in the NFL?

  • I think Ezekiel Elliott is the most overrated player in the NFL. I know that he runs the ball very hard and has ran for a lot of yards the past few seasons, but that is one of the most physical groups of OL that I’ve seen in a long time. It is incredible to watch them come off of the ball and get after people all game long.

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

  • Respected every time. I try to live my life in a way where I think that a lot of people like me, but at the end of the day I could care less if they like me if they don’t respect me. Respect to me is so important because we have all heard the old expression “respect is earned not given” and brush it off most of the time, but it is the truth. Somebody can decide if they like you or not in a 5 minute conversation, but for them to respect you, you are going to have to show them something.

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

  • I really feel for Johnny Manziel. In college he was treated like a superstar and won a Heisman trophy along the way. I think he got caught up in the college lifestyle and believed that what he was doing was all there was to life and he couldn’t see the big picture. I think that he is one of the greatest competitors in the game of football and I love to watch him play.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

  • I hate to lose so much more than I love to win. I think that there is a certain feeling when you lose that stays in the back of your mind throughout the entire game that you are trying to avoid. I don’t think you play the game scared for losing, but rather you know the feeling of losing and losing and will do anything to not feel that way.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

  • My dad has been a great influence in my life. He has taught me what it takes to be a man and take care of a family along with showing me how to work hard. Some of the greatest memories that I have with my dad have been while we were working together working around the house or on a job somewhere. Any questions I have I know that I can call on him and he will do his best to help me.

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 [email protected]

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