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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Joe DeLeone, LS, University of Rhode Island

Joe DeLeone the LS from the University of Rhode Island recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Joe DeLeone
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 215
  • Position: Long Snapper
  • College: Rhode Island
  • Twitter: @joedeleone

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

• I’m originally from Millburn New Jersey, which is about 30 minutes outside of New York City. It’s a suburban town in northern New Jersey with one of the best public high schools in the country academically. What I loved about Millburn was how hard-working everyone in my town and graduating class was, whether it was academically or athletically. Everything was always very competitive, and that environment helped me develop my work ethic and eagerness to compete with everyone around me. 

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

• Film Study, Practice, Strength and Condition.

To be a successful specialist and long snapper, the key to becoming really consistent is constant repetition. It takes endless hours of repetition of the same movement to establish that consistency. Practicing technique and other drills to improve is the basis for becoming a great long snapper. While I feel all of this is very important, film study needs to be ranked slightly ahead of it. For specialists, film is the opportunity to analyze your technique and see what you need to fix. You need to have a goal and plan in mind for when you practice. Otherwise, you can’t identify your mistakes and what needs to adjusted. 

I still feel strength and conditioning is extremely important, but if your technique isn’t refined, your strength cannot be used properly. 

What do you worry about, and why?

• Letting people down. As a long snapper, my teammates and coaches expect me to perfect on every rep and in every game. They’re relying on me to do my job because if I make a mistake it can hugely impact the outcome of a special teams play. This doesn’t overwhelm my thoughts during games and practices, but it’s something that keeps me focused and locked in because I know everyone is counting on me. 

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

•Coming in as a freshman I was really confident in myself, and firmly thought I was prepared to start. After an up and down training camp, I ended up as the backup long snapper behind a player that was a returner. In my eyes, this was a failure. I felt I should have been starting in our first game against Kansas that season. While I was down on myself because of this, I just put my head down and went to work. I was doing whatever I could to improve mentally and physically. Eventually, my time came midseason because the starter suffered a season-ending injury. From then on, I never relinquished the starting spot.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

•Consistency. As a long snapper, I feel a lot of teammates always counted on me to do my job perfectly every time, and it was pretty much expected from me. I was always very consistent in my career during practice and games. 

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

•Towson Kicker Aiden O’Neil. I played against him twice in my career and witnessed him hit a long game-winner against us during my freshman year. I’ve known early on that he was going to make it to the next level. 

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

• Working in sports broadcasting and media. I’ve recently started producing and hosting two podcasts with reputable networks covering football. I’m currently working towards a career in production for sports network shows or live sporting events. 

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

• While all three are very organized and clean for me, I would have to say my desk. If my desk ever become disorganized and I try to get work done on it, it becomes very distracting to me. Your desk is supposed to be a spot for you lock in and focus, free of any distractions. Proper organization helps me feel centered. 

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

• Three strangers. If there is a possibility to save more people, you have to take that route. It would be selfish to choose to save someone close to you and risk the lives of three others. 

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

• I would definitely pick Batman. Batman may be one of the few super hero’s without powers, but he’s still one of the most dangerous. I like to compare myself to that because I may not be the most athletically gifted person, I still find ways to make myself an asset. 

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

• My biggest adversity throughout my life and athletic career has been being undersized and not as athletic as those I’m competing against. In order for me to succeed despite my limitations, I’ve had to work even harder to get where I am. The thing I love about being a long snapper is that even though I’m not as big or fast as some of the other guys at my position, I can still work to make my technique better than them. 

What is your most embarrassing moment?

• When I was junior in high school I wasn’t being recruited at all. I was frustrated at this point and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t being recruited. In December after my season ended, I attended a small college exposure event for specialists that had a few small school coaches there. During that event, I had one of the worst days snapping I can remember to date. I had snaps on the ground and visibly slower than everyone else. I was so embarrassed at the end of it because of how bad I looked compared to everyone else. I attribute that moment to what motivated me the most to work endlessly until I earned an opportunity to play Division I football. That time the following year I was committed to URI. 

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

• Snapping on a game-tying field goal against Delaware my senior year. It was amazing to be a part of a play that impacted the game as much as it did, and put us in a position to go to overtime. Everyone executed perfectly on that play. Sadly we lost in overtime, but I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing that ball go through the uprights. 

What song best describes your work ethic?

• Never Gonna Stop by Mind the Gap. The whole song is about working endlessly until you get what you want. 

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

• Mental toughness. One thing I’ve heard from a lot of people in regards to snapping at the next level is that what separates those with jobs and those that don’t is being able to move on after a mistake. Everyone will make a mistake eventually, but it’s key how you respond. If you can have a short memory as a specialist and execute the next play, you can have a long career. 

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

•Former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. Since high school, I’ve been obsessed with the history of the NFL and I’ve always been intrigued by Walsh’s coaching and offensive philosophies. I’d love for the opportunity to pick his mind. 

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

• Snap. A lot of dance clubs have one word, catchy names. Might as well stick with the long snapping theme!

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

• Eagles long snapper Rick Lovato. Any long snapper in my eyes is underrated because they don’t get the attention of other positions for being really good at what they do. It wasn’t until this year snappers were actually a voted on position for the Pro Bowl, and Lovato was one of the first-ever selected. 

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

• Respected. Being liked is nice, but it’s not how you can be the best teammate and person overall. If you’re liked, those around you won’t take you as seriously. You also won’t be as willing to do what’s best for your team because you’ll be worried about how others will respond. 

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

• Antonio Brown. Over the past year, we’ve watched the best receiver in the NFL become unsignable by teams. His emotional stability completely hindered his ability to remain in the league. His impulsiveness led him to make so many mistakes that led him to where he is now. It is so difficult to watch because he clearly needs some type of healthy support system to help him work through his issues. 

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

• I really hate losing. You play to win the game, but I’d rather avoid the low of a loss than feel the high of victory. I’m such a competitive person that it hurts me seeing someone else getting to celebrate. URI lost a lot of games in my career and every single one of those losses still stings. 

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

Myself. I’ve had so many amazing people impact my life and help me get to the point I’m at today. I’m incredibly grateful for the influence they’ve had on me. However, no one will impact your life more than yourself. I’m always striving to beat who I was yesterday. That inner motivation to succeed is what drives me every day. 

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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