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NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: LaDarius Wiley, SAF, Vanderbilt University

Vandy safety LaDarius Wiley recently sat down to be interviewed by Jonathan Joyce of NFL Draft Diamonds.

Player Profile:

  • LaDarius Wiley 
  • Vanderbilt University 
  • Safety 
  • 6’1” 
  • 210lbs. 
  • Los Angeles, CA 
  • Twitter: @LDtheking13 

2018 Accolades & Statistics:

  • GP: 13 
  • Total Tackles: 83 
  • TFL: 1.5 
  • Sacks: 1.0 
  • FF: 4 
  • INT: 1 

What are you listening to in the locker room before kickoff? 

There’s a variety of things, I try to mix it up. Some games I listen to West Coast raps. Some games I’ll listen to a specific artist. Other games I’ll listen to my slow jams, R&B, and soul. I’ll go from Drake to J. Cole to Kendrick then to Earth, Wind and Fire. Then to Eryka Badu to Ice Cube then to NWA, it’s a wide variety of artists.

How would your teammates describe you? 

A humble beast. I’m not necessarily the loudest guy, but I’m about my work. They can tell you that I’m very determined, a very smart player, I’m willing to connect with different types of personalities and players. I’m always willing to help those who come to me for help. I’m very open to guys and I lead by actions more so than words. Once we get on the field, I flip the switch and become the vocal leader I need to be. I think they’d say that I’m a real genuine guy.

While at the Collegiate level, who has been the toughest player you have competed against? 

Playing in the SEC you play against great talent every week. I would say, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. I take great pride in playing against those guys and being able to see what they’re doing now. This year, the RBs at Florida and Missouri run the ball very hard. It’s nice to play against guys like those who fight for every yard and bring out the best in me. I can also talk about the TE at Notre Dame who I had to bring my A game against. It was a pleasure playing against guys like that.

What team do you choose in Madden? Why? 

I like the matchups. I’m not going with a specific team going into the game. I’ll let the guys pick a team first and then based off the match up I’ll pick a team. I’m from L.A., so I’ll always go with the home team and go with the Chargers or Rams.

In 8th grade, you were in the Snoop Youth Football League run by Snoop Dogg. What do you remember about that experience?

That was one of the greatest times. Snoop actually afforded me the first opportunity to get on a plane. I played in the Snoop league from 3rd grade to 8th grade. In our 4th grade year we were on an All-Star team where we actually flew to Florida to play their All-Star team. We played in the Orange Bowl and Lil Jon played at halftime. I remember being around Snoop Dog for a long time throughout the whole process. I remember the great talent coming out from John Ross to JuJu to De’Anthony Thomas.

Have you kept in touch with Snoop?

Yes. That’s the thing with Snoop, he’s a real genuine guy. He didn’t just stop caring about you when you were out of the league. We still keep in touch here and there. He’s been able to come to Nashville and I’ve been able to talk with him and meet up. He’s been a great mentor for me.

What is the history of your nickname, SMILEY? 

That’s one of the nicknames that one of my coaches gave me. When I play football I play with great joy. I’ve been told that I smile when I hit people. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I’m the type of person that’s always smiling. I always try to brighten up a room. I try to find the goodness in every situation. It’s something that comes naturally to me.

What do you value most, outside of football, from your Collegiate experience? 

Just being able to network inside the SEC and being able to be in Nashville and get a degree from Vanderbilt. I take great pride in being able to talk to people and use my platform to connect with people from different levels.

Who is your personal hero? 

Definitely was my Dad. He always told me that he loved me. He put work ethic in me early in life. Watching him get up early day in and day out, he never missed a day of work. He provided for our family and was always the ultimate hero. My mom is too. Being able to raise six boys in one household. I can only imagine what it took for her, but she never complained. She always kept a smile on her face.

What are the attributes that you bring to a professional football team? 

I bring a smart football player, very intelligent. I’m going to watch film from morning until night. I pride myself in knowing the game of football and being able to be in the right position. I also bring a positive attitude and a hard work ethic. I know a lot of people say that, but I feel like I’ve been one of the hardest workers since Pop Warner. I’ve always been the first one in and the last one out. I’m always taking care of my body and being in the shape to perform. I’m going to be a leader. I’m not the loudest guy, but I’m going to work hard and show through actions. I’m going to be consistent and not make many mistakes. If I do make a mistake, it won’t happen again. My best ball is ahead of me.

Your life changed in November after your Father passed away unexpectedly. You were back on the field a little over a week later. Is this something he would’ve wanted you to do? 

It’s something he would’ve absolutely wanted me to do. I’m grateful for Vanderbilt and Coach Mason affording me that opportunity to go home. Being able to miss those two days of practice, my Dad would’ve wanted me to come back and play in that game. When he was sick, he would still go to work. Living off of him and what he had taught me, I knew he wouldn’t have wanted me to miss it. He loved to watch me play football. Playing in that game, I was able to honor him and his memory. I felt like, as a leader, I needed to be there for my team. I thank them for allowing me to come back.

I’ve read that after the funeral, you and your family took leftover food to the local homeless population in the area. It seems like your father taught you and your siblings the value of giving back to those less fortunate. Is this a passion you’d like to continue down the line as you progress through your adult life? 

He definitely taught us the value of giving. My dad spearheaded an outreach ministry at our Church. Every Saturday they would minister and feed the less fortunate. There was no better way to honor him after his passing. We packaged about 55 full meals and went to speak with people and give them the meals.

What one skill on the football field would you like to improve on? What’s your plan for doing so? 

I want to show more range in the middle of the field. Improving on my back-pedal and being able to open my hips. I’ve been working on those things and definitely showed that at my pro day. I want to improve on covering WRs. I played CB my Freshman and Sophomore year, but I want to get more comfortable with it.

If you could intercept one NFL QB, past or present, who would it be and why? 

Tom Brady. I grew up with the attitude being if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

Do you model your style of play after any current/former NFL player? 

I feel like the way that my mold is set, I can’t really compare myself to anybody. To come close to it, I would say a Jamal Adams type or Derwin James. I can also be like Eric Weddle or Earl Thomas. I think that my game is interchangeable. I put on film that I can play FS, SS, Nickel, Dime.

What is the best part of your hometown; Los Angeles, CA? 

Besides my family, the beach. It’s a place I go to relax, refresh and clear my mind. I can take a step back and recalibrate on life. It’s very calming and soothing.

Why should an NFL team invest in you? 

My best ball is ahead of me. I’m going to be a smart and consistent player. I’m going to come in and work very hard. I’m going to stay healthy, stay in shape and take care of my body. I know the season is long and I will be available the entire year. I’m a tough guy, I’ll play through injuries and anything. I will give you my all and come in with a positive attitude.

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