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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Donnell Rodgers, ILB, University of North Dakota

Donnell Rodgers the amazing ILB from the University of North Dakota recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds very own Jimmy Williams aka Draft Guy Jimmy
  • Name: Donnell Rodgers
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 238
  • Position: ILB
  • College: University of North Dakota
  • Twitter: @DonnellRodgers

Tell us about your university/college. What was your major/minor? How is campus life?

The University of North Dakota has around 14,500 students, so it’s not a huge school. I graduated in the Spring of 2019 with a major in Kinesiology and a minor in Coaching and have been in graduate school since this past semester. Campus life is good because it is such a small town where everyone knows each other.

What do your teammates say is your best quality? 

They would say that my best qualities are my ability to know what’s happening on the field and my work ethic that I bring into anything I am doing.  

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?

Being that UND ran a 3-4 when I was playing, I feel like that is a defense that would be a good fit for me. I am a player who was all over the field during the game doing what I can so I don’t see a problem fitting into any scheme for any team as an ILB.

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

I think the best player I have ever played against was the Weber State running back Josh Davis. He had gotten hurt in the game this last year but even when he was a freshman playing us he had a great skill set and composure that most people and freshman don’t have.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

I have a lot of teammates that impress me, but I would say Mason Bennett. Mason and I both came in together as freshmen and we both had our first college play together against Stony Brook. We were both captains this year and have kept pushing each other to grow on and off the field. He is a player that made me want to work harder day in and day out. He works hard and I respect his work ethic.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.

A time that I had to overcome a struggle was my redshirt sophomore season. I had a season ending injury in the second game and another surgery that year. It was hard not being out there with my team and the season didn’t go as planned, but I knew that I had to keep getting healthy and staying focused week in and week out so that when I came back I was ready to go physically and mentally so I could make an impact on the field. 

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?

I would probably play baseball or wrestle. Those are both sports I enjoy doing and I wrestled in high school my junior year and had a great time doing it.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I would say I’m most proud of earning a degree from UND in four years and getting third team All American. They mean a lot to me because I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate from a four year University. The All American means a lot because I have wanted to get a shot to play in the NFL since I was a little kid and I feel like that shows I have the work ethic and dedication that goes into it.  

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career?

I would say one of the most memorable plays of my college career was against Cal Poly. It was the last drive of the game, I was on a blitz, and they just left me so I had an open shot on the QB, and I came low and sacked him before he was able to get rid of the ball. He got up slowly, and I could feel that the game was over, we stopped them that series and won the game. 

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?

My favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings, I have to support the home state team. I wouldn’t say I model myself off of any player but what I find myself doing is watching film from many linebackers and great pass rushers trying to learn skills and become a better player.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?

I love listening to John Legend in my free time. When it’s game time I switch it up and listen to DaBaby to get in the right mindset. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

I wouldn’t say that I have a comfort food but I love to eat rice and a side of chicken or steak for almost every meal. 

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?

My favorite movie actor is Will Smith. I would say my favorite movie is Black Panther.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

In my spare time I find myself hanging out with friends, playing with my dog, working out or playing games. 

Who or what motivates you the most?

For me my motivation comes from my parents. They have helped me grow so much as a person and taught me so much that I just want to make them proud. They made me who I am today and have given me everything they could and I’m just so thankful for them. The best way I can show how thankful I am for them is through football.

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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