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NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Max Cepeda, WR, Marist College

Max Cepeda is a smaller wide receiver from Marist College but he has speed and big play ability. He recently played in the Dream Bowl and had a solid performance.

•   Name: Maximilian Cepeda

  •    Height: 5’7

  •    Weight:170

  •    Position: WR/RB/Returner

  •    College: Marist (Muhlenberg College transfer)

   •    Twitter: _max1milian

Tellus about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

  •     I was born in Washington Heights, Manhattan and livedthere until I was 3. I then moved and lived in Bogota, New Jersey for 10 yearsand then moved to River Edge, NJ where I have been residing for the past 9years. I mentioned where I’ve lived because not one is my hometown, but as acollective they all are and have helped so much in my growth and how I havebeen raised. Although I lived in Washington Heights for the shortest amount oftime, I feel it has made the most impact on my life because of the traditionsstarted there. Both of my parents were raised in Washington Heights by theirparents who came to the US from Dominican Republic and spoke little English. Mymom had 3 siblings and so did my dad; my grandparents had to endure a lot, makesacrifices and work multiple jobs for their children. The work ethic my parentsinstilled in me was the same their parents hammered into them. My father andhis 3 siblings all went to college and got degrees same thing on my mom’s side;my grandparents were able to send each of their children through college. Mygrandparents were able to create a better life for their children and thatinspires me regularly. My family is my home and I don’t know what I would dowithout them and all the lessons they’ve taught me. Everything they’veexperienced has been passed down to me, including all the lessons they learnedand were taught while living in Washington Heights. Even while I’ve lived in NJI was always in and out of Washington Heights, my cousins and I would spend summersin our grandmas apartment where my mom and aunts grew up. To this day thememories, stories and lessons have all stayed with me, that’s why I love it somuch!

Listthese three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength andConditioning and Practice?

•    In season: film study conditioning strength

  • Offseason: strength conditioning filmstudy

Whatdo you worry about, and why?

  •     I worry about all the sacrifices my parents andgrandparents made for me to be in the position I am in and not making somethingout of myself. My biggest regret would be if I let it all go to waste which iswhy I work and push myself so hard, so much so to a flaw!

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

  •    My one and biggest failure has been to myself. I didn’t domy part as a student in high school or elementary school to be honest, all Icared about was playing. If I could do martial arts, play baseball, and be afootball player all without having to go to school I would have. unfortunatelyfor me I focused more on my athletics than I did on school and that forced meto have to get no scholarship offers. No scholarship offers meant I had to walkon to a D1 school or go the D3 route. I just wanted to be active and compete itwas hard for me to just sit at a desk all day when all I wanted to do was beoutside or be playing. But I learned how important school was my freshman yearat Muhlenberg College, a D3 school that had everything I needed to besuccessful academically and provided me with the closest thing to ascholarship. The lessons I learned my freshman year helped me grow immensely,there were so many highs and so many lows. I was ECAC South Offensive Rookie ofYear breaking handful of records at Muhlenberg yet my GPA after two semesterswas a 2.2 my second semester, I finished with a 1.9 GPA. I was risking thelittle opportunity I had and beginning to ruin my life. I needed to be humbledand I saw real consequences for my actions. I was hurting my family but moreimportantly I was letting go to waste my grandparents and parents sacrifices.if I was going to be honest to myself and take control of my future, I had tohumble myself. I was able to buckle down to get my grades up me by my secondsemester I finished with a 3.3 and got my GPA up to a 2.9. I got accepted andtransferred out of Muhlenberg to Marist college. School to this point in mylife had been a constant struggle but I overcame it and made a better path formyself academically. All of this was to create a better plan B for me becausefootball is only a short time, but I still have that dream of playing in theNFL!

Whatdo your teammates say is your best quality?

  • I am tenacious, and my drive is unmatched.

Whatwould your career be if you couldn’t play football?

  •     This is why I chose to attend Marist, they have one ofthe best communication programs in the country with multiple connections toESPN through alumni and having ESPN ran sporting events. I got my degree insports communications and currently enrolled in the IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications)Master’s program at Marist. I want to be an analyst and eventually host my ownshow on sports and its importance! 

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

  •     Room, if you want to be successful in life start bymaking your bed when you wake up. How can you accomplish anything outside inthe world if you can’t do or complete the first task of your day inside yourown home, which is making your own bed?

Ifthere was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one familymember, which would you choose and why?

  •     My sister, my mother came to my mind first and I love hermore than anything in this world, but my little sister is someone I will alwayslook after and take care of no matter what. Just was raised to look after theweaker or smaller person my sister is neither but she’s my blood and my only sister.

Tellme about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcomeit?

  •     The biggest adversity I’ve had to face is believing inmyself when no one else does. At Marist I accomplished a lot of academic goals,however I didn’t get the opportunities I had hoped for on the gridiron. Whetherit was because I switched from running back to receiver or had two differentoffensive coordinators and positional coaches. it just wasn’t in the cards forme no matter how hard I worked, fought, argued, bled, sweat or cried, but everytime I was down, I got myself up back up. My confidence and my dream were notdoing so great I was really low following the last game of my super senioryear. But by the grace of god I got one last opportunity to play, get film, andprove that I can play at a D1 level and Most importantly that I deserve to beat the next level and in the NFL. I didn’t get any bowl game invites but wastold by a teammate of mine there was a defensive back position open in a bowlgame called the Dream bowl. Coincidence? I didn’t think so. I was ready to goand play a position I hadn’t played since high school because I believed inmyself and my ability to play this game. And as fate would have it a positionopened up at receiver and I had to take advantage. I was the smallest of thereceivers and the smallest on the whole red crusaders team. I Didn’t let thatbother me or the fact the scouts were looking at all the measurements andalready crossing me out. When game time came around, I waited for my turn andwhen my opportunity came, I had to make the most out of the plays I got. I didand left the field as happy as I could remember in a long time. I had proven Ibelonged.

Whatwas the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

  •     End of the 2014 season, my freshman year, we are in thefirst round of the playoffs against Widener university. It sticks out becauseit was the second time my coaches were letting me run an option route out ofthe back field. The first time I ran one was during our last regular seasongame against our rival Moravian college and I scored running down the middle ofthe field while they were in a cover 2 shell. This play was similar but becauseWideners defense was a little more complex due to their defensive coordinatorhaving been a coach in the NFL, love to blitz and use a lot of stunts droppingd-lineman into coverage. so, my coach and I were in the film room mastermindingplays where I could get a one on one opportunity and we noticed they liked tokeep their free safety on an island. Their secondary linebackers and D-linewere filled with D1 transfers and their defense used their athletic talents totheir advantage. They did this by letting them be athletes and cover the otherteam’s best athletes and let their interior players rush the QB. We were athrowing team and they were going to challenge us. So, we came up with a playwhere we would have trips to the field and have a lone receiver to theboundary. But it was critical to get them in a blitz situation so I could slipout of the back field and be left alone with the free safety while everyoneelse ran their man off. My opportunity came and we caught them in the cover 1blitz package, and I slipped out of the backfield caught the quick seam passmade a move on the safety and ran 55 yards to the Endzone.

Whatsong best describes your work ethic?

  •    Started from the bottom – drake 

Whatis the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help yousucceed at the next level?

   • Will Power. When you strip away all the media hype and all the outside distractions, it’s just a game you have to be willing to put your body on the line, you have to be willing to make the big play as well as the small ones, willing to sacrifice ego, and willing to buy into the program, coaches and team!

Wouldyou rather be liked or respected, and why?

   •     I’d rather be respected than be liked. Trying to be liked is focusing more on what others think of you rather than what you think of you. When you are true and own who you are, you have the power. whether or not people decide they like you are in control because no one can mess with what you think of you and that garners respect. 

Whatplayer who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the mostand why?

  •     Odell Beckham Jr. has gotten to the point where is offthe field issues are blocking his play. I understand passion, a true love forthe game but there comes a point where it’s not even about football anymore.It’s interesting because I went through similar to what he is going or has gonethrough my freshman and sophomore year. He is just going through it in front ofthe world whereas it was Easier for me to be able to collect and save myselffrom my own demise because I wasn’t in the spotlight.  I finally let myself see the bigger picture,let go of my ego and remembered that I’m just a man I don’t have to be super humanor conquer the world in one day. You have to have a very strong support groupespecially in his situation to be able to stay grounded and humble through theups and downs. I think that’s what happens to a lot of top athletes, the stagegets too small to fit how big they are. Yes, he’s an amazing athlete and hasall the accolades but think about how much better he would be if he had aSaquon Barkley mentality. 

Doyou love to win, or hate to lose?

  •     I’m a competitor and I hate to lose, it’s necessary togrow but yes losing keeps me up at night, I can remember tough loses more thanthe big wins. Just how I’m wired, grew up with the mentality that losing is inmy mind, I can do anything I put my mind to and that’s why I won’t quit tryingto play.

Whohas been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

  •   My family has been the biggest influence in my life,however the rap artist J. Cole impacted my life at a time in my life whereno one could reach me. His music saved my view of sports, school, people,family and life in general. He helped me to see that it was cool to be greatstudent and an athlete, it’s cool to be into poetry, it’s okay to feelvulnerable, it’s fine if the world isn’t listening or understanding you. Mostimportantly he helped me see that being myself is the only way I can truly findmy way in this world.

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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