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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Rocco Esposito, OL, Indiana University of PA

IUP offensive tackle Rocco Esposito (79) is a mammoth of a man who provided great protection here for his quarterback.
  • Name: Rocco Esposito
  • Height: 6’7″
  • Weight: 315
  • Position: Offensive Line
  • College: Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) 
  • Twitter: @the_rock94

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

•  I was born and raised in in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, called Robinson Township. It is difficult to name the one thing that I love most about my hometown, however it would have to be a tie between living close to family and the work ethic my town provided me with. 

Within one hour of my home, both sides of my family were within driving distance. The work ethic of Pittsburgh as a whole was always instilled on me as a “nose to the grindstone” kind of mentality. That mentality has led me down the path to where I am today. 

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

•  My order would be practice, film study, and lastly strength and conditioning. 

I believe the practice is the most important because this is where you strive to perfect your craft. For my position, footwork and hand placement is extremely important. If my steps are off and the hands aren’t where they are supposed to be, there’s a better chance that the opponent I am blocking will beat me and make the play. 

Next is film study. Most people exhibit subtle cues that give away what they may do before the play even begins. The ability to have insight into what others may do before they make their move can drastically improve gameplay. 

Lastly is strength and conditioning. You could be the biggest, strongest, and the quickest guy on the field but if you don’t know what to do on the field, your size may not help you because there is more to the game than size. 

What do you worry about, and why?

•  I do my best not to worry because it doesn’t do anything but stress me out. I put my faith in God and try to go about life and everything I face with a positive attitude. There are always times where I stress over things, but I do my best to move on and make a positive impact. 

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

During my last semester of graduate school at IUP, I was taking a computer programming class. The first assignment didn’t go well, so I had to make a new game plan on how to do better the next time through. I made myself do extra work, met with the professor on numerous occasions and spent additional time breaking down the material so I had a better understanding of the concepts, which ultimately proved beneficial on the following assignments.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

• My teammates tell me my best quality is twofold, I am intelligent and can see things in much detail or I have a positive attitude with anything and anyone I encounter. 

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

•  It’s a tough question, but if I had to pick one I would say Marcus Martin from Slippery Rock. He had a great motor and was good at reading the plays. 

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

•  If football was no longer an option that I could pursue, I would love to get involved with sports or marketing analytics. Growing up,  math came easy to me and I was always around business because of my father’s company, so why not merge my two worlds and make a career out of it, doing something I love.

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

• Room. If my room isn’t clean I feel like everything else becomes disorganized. 

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

•  I hope that this dilemma never comes across my path, but if it does, I would save one family member. Growing up family meant everything to me supported me on everything I did, and I could always count on them to be there for me if I ever needed it. 

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

•  Tony Stark/Iron Man. He’s a genius, yet commercial relief. He is calculated, yet caring for those he considers important to him. He is able to look at situations and do what needs to be done. 

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

•  My biggest adversity would have to be football. My story to where I ended up today is not a short one, but I’m blessed to be where I am. I keep telling myself that hard work will get rewarded as long as I continue to put forth my best effort and never give up.  Currently, I’m working out and staying in shape waiting to get my foot in the door professionally, somewhere. From there, I know I can earn my keep. I know that God has a plan for me, so I do the best with the gifts that I have been blessed with and with what I can control. 

What is your most embarrassing moment?

• I spent the most time on this and to be honest, it made me realize that I have done quite a bit of embarrassing things in my life. I’d have to say the most embarrassing is less than a week after I got my drivers license, I backed into a car (someone’s brand new Cadillac) in my dad’s work truck. Thankfully the owners were lovely people and we were able to work something out. 

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

•  My most memorable play would have to be during a game when I first transferred to IUP.  It was early on in the game and we were backed up close to our own end zone. We called a run right behind me and all the pieces pretty much fell right into place. Ended up with a 50+ yard run. 

What song best describes your work ethic?

• Warrior – Disturbed

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

•  I think the best trait anyone can have, not only for the next level but for life is to be coachable. I could give a multitude of reasons, but I believe this is most important because, without the ability to process information and add it to one’s toolbox of abilities, the chance of success decreases. Every day is a chance to learn something new, no matter how small it may be! 

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

•  My grandfather on my dad’s side. He passed away a little over two years ago and I would love to have him around just to see where I am today. Growing up he was my role model and my namesake. I wish I could have him here to tell him all the good going on in my life and tell him that I am doing my best to make his name look better than he left it. 

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

• Party Roc Place – Just a play on words for my name being used. 

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

•  I like to watch and study the offensive linemen in the NFL, so naturally, a few of these guys come to my mind. It’s tough to name just one guy, but I would choose Ali Marpet from Tampa Bay. He came from a small school and earned his way to where he is today! He is a good role model and his attitude and work ethic proves that anything is achievable!

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

•  Respected for sure. I believe that it is much harder to earn respect from someone rather than that same person liking you. For me, respect is more than just a surface level liking, it is more deep-rooted and meaningful. 

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

•  I’d have to say, Kareem Hunt.  The behavior that got him in trouble is not something that can be justified. 

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

•  Once again, another tough question, but I hate to lose. The feeling you get with winning is great, but that only lasts for so long, but losing, on the other hand, stings a bit harsher and lasts longer. When I was at IUP for my first grad transfer year, we went 13-1. The only game that we had lost was the National Semi-final, and although I was unable to play in that game due to an injury, that loss felt worse than all the wins from that season combined. 

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

• I draw my influences from all parts of my life, family, friends, and coaches. I think my biggest influence overall would have to be my grandfather. Up until he passed, he was the toughest man that I knew but had a softer side as well. He was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need and he wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. I could go on and on, but in summary, he was the man I looked up to growing up, and although he’s not around I strive to be like him more and more each day. 

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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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