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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Lawson Holbert, S, Emporia State University

Lawson Holbert the freaky athletic safety from Emporia State University recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Lawson Holbert
  • Height: 6’ 1”
  • Weight: 205
  • Position: Safety 
  • College: Emporia State University
  • Twitter: @LawsonHolbert

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

I am from Overland Park Kansas but was actually born in Topeka, KS. We move around a bit living in KS, MN and NE – so basically, I’m a mid-west kid.  What I love most about living in the mid-west and specifically Kansas now, is that a lot of my family lives in this same area. Being able to be around the people who support me is everything to me, and its within driving distance of some cool places to eat as well! 

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

  1. Practice: This is number one for me because I am a very big visual learner. I do love learning and watching film too, however. But if I can’t go out and apply what I’ve seen in film out on the field, actually in plays and scenarios then it doesn’t click for me as well. Practice is instrumental in this way for me.
  2. Film Study: Film study is vitally important to my game as I alluded to because it not only helps me to understand what my opponent is doing and likes to do, but it also allows me to also study myself and others at my position. It allows me to see what I am doing well and what I could be doing differently in order to keep my competitive edge.
  3. Strength and Conditioning: While this is very important to me and should be to every athlete. of the three it’s in third not because it isn’t important, but because as you progress in your football career, everyone is fast, strong, and basically in top physical shape – you have to be to compete. But what are athletes doing to stay in shape mentally? If you can’t anticipate what your opponent is going to do and when they like to do it, then your physical abilities are really at a disadvantage to an extent. Football acuity, opponent knowledge and situational intelligence make you a cut above the rest.

What do you worry about, and why?

I really don’t worry too much; I focus on what I can control. If I can do everything in my power to stay on top of the things around me and make sure everything around me is in order then I know and trust that the rest will fall into place, However, there are things that make me uneasy and push me outside my comfort zone. The college recruiting process and this process both have been a test for me mainly because there are a lot of what ifs that come into play. But again, I know that if I stay focused mentally and just keep growing, learning, and developing as this process moves forward, I will be where I am supposed to be in the end.

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

School for me has always been something I am good at, well except for Math and Science but overall it was never really a true grind, I always figured things out somehow. But when I started preparing for the ACT that was a different beast to me. I didn’t score as high as I needed to the first time, and that shot my confidence way down because I had never really failed at something like this before. I tried a variety of prep classes and took the test too many times, but nothing really seemed to help me get over the hump. I finally took a full weekend prep course. This really taught me the strategies of the test and I was able to improve my score and get where it needed to be.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

My teammates would say my best quality is my work ethic. I come in everyday, motivated and find a new way to push myself and my teammates to new levels. I’m somewhat of a quiet leader in that way. I motivate and lead by example, pushing myself and the others around me to be better.

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

James Letcher (#13) for Washburn University. He was not only quick and a meticulous route runner, but he had a new release every time which I pressed. Definitely unique and something that challenged me to find a way to overcome.

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

Currently I am majoring in Psychology, where I want to pursue a career in either sports psychology at the university level or school psychology, elementary and secondary level. As an athlete, you are surrounded by so many different types people. Just seeing and hearing the different stories around what each of us different athletes go through to achieve our athletic goals. Experiencing this myself gives me a desire to give other athletes an outlet to process everything as well as just show athletes that while their experiences are unique, they aren’t alone – that they are more than just the sports they play. School psychology appeals to me for the same reasons.

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

Desk – I cannot concentrate if my workspace is cluttered; then room, I just feel grimy when my room is dirty; finally my car. The care is last because while I am in it quite a bit, its not enough for it to get super dirty.

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

As much as I hate to think about something like this, I would definitely be selfish in this scenario and would choose one family member. I know the question doesn’t specify, but I would save my younger brother. God only gave me one brother and I don’t know what I would do without him.

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

Most definitely I would be Spiderman. I not only grew up watching him as a kid, but I feel as though even now I can still relate to him. He struggles with the challenge of being a superhero and a student which is similar to what I go through as a college athlete. Plus, who wouldn’t want to have super strength and the ability to climb walls!

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

I think my biggest adversity has been being super under-the-radar my whole football career. Because we moved a few times, it was challenging always jumping into the mix. While we lived in MN, it was a tiny community and not the best fit for our family. We moved to Omaha then when I was in 8th grade. Trying to figure out the club system was tough. The team I ended up on moved me to DB and we ended up winning a national championship in Vegas during the National Junior Tackle Football tournament. Unfortunately, high school was challenging as no one really knew who I was, and Omaha surprisingly wasn’t a big hub for football recruiting at that time. So I decided to move back to KC after my junior year of football hoping the bigger football market would get me recruited. I had a great senior year but still was under the radar with only one season in high school there. I was happy to get an offer by a great JUCO program and was ready to go work and prove my worth. Hutch was no joke either as the recruit a ton of guys out of Florida and Georgia. I worked with tons of D1 recruits who were at JUCO for various reasons and it made me tougher.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

This would have to be my ‘Welcome to college football moment.’ It was my first special teams’ practice at JUCO, and I just wanted to be out on the field. I went out on kickoff return and I vividly remember the ball being kicked and then the kickoff team steam rolling ahead. I must have gotten hit by the biggest non-lineman guy on the team. I got decleated in front of the whole entire team, my chinstrap from the impact gashed me underneath my chin. I will never forget this, and I still have the scar to prove it!

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

My most memorable play of my career would have to be when I caught the interception against the University of Central Oklahoma. This interception sealed the game for us for a win. I remember afterwards, all the seniors coming up and thanking me for giving them one more game to play and extending their season just a little bit longer. That play turned out to be more than just an individual accomplishment. The fact that I was able to do that, help extend our season one more game is really what made it one of the most memorable plays for me.

What song best describes your work ethic?

“I Don’t Get Tired” by Kevin Gates. Quite literally this fits me because I don’t nor can I afford to get tired with what I’m doing. A career in football is what I’ve always wanted, strive for and want to accomplish.

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

It’s my mental toughness. This mindset helps me push myself to new levels both physically and mentally. At the same time it also helps me to stay grounded. Its taught me that I can never stop working hard and must always continue to grow.

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

My Grandfather. He was 95 and passed away about four months ago. While we did have a tight bond because he lived so far away, I am disappointed in myself that our bond wasn’t as strong as either of us would have liked. I would use the time to apologize for that and just let him know that I love him. Honestly, the rest of the time I would want to just talk to him, listen to all his war stories and life experience and enjoy his company doing nothing at all.

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

Given that trade marking doesn’t come into play, I would choose “Dance Dance Revolution.”

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

I would say Cooper Kupp of the LA Rams.

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

Definitely would want to be respected because especially in today’s social climate. It is so easy for anyone to like anybody, but is it authentic? I already have everyone I need in my circle so being liked doesn’t mean a lot to me. Being respected however does especially since respect is something that must be reciprocal – it goes both ways, and it isn’t something that is given. Respect must be earned and when you earn someone’s respect or vice versa it means so much more.

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

Shawn Oakman formerly of Baylor. He’s currently in the XFL playing for the Los Angles Wildcats. His off-field issues not only cost him three major years of his life, but it also impacted his chance to start off his career on the right foot as he should have. I feel for him. I believe that he would have made a huge impact coming into the league, but because of off-field issues he was not able too so.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

I definitely hate to lose more than I love to win. In my opinion anyone can lose but I believe it is a true test of character HOW someone handles a loss. I don’t hate losing because it’s losing, I hate it because of the taste it leaves in my mouth and it means I didn’t do everything correctly that I likely made mistakes. But I wouldn’t say I hate all of losing. Losing also means there is room for improvement, areas to get better and experiences to learn from. I respect that grind more than anything else; the grind of trying to get back on top. I do love to win, but wins happen every day, and many times they are so short lived. I also think that if you dwell on wins too long, they can eliminate the focus on the next task at hand. I think a healthy understanding of both is absolutely important.

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

My father is the biggest influence on my life. He has taught me the importance of wanting things for myself and not for others. He would always tell me he can’t want this for me, I need to want it for myself and if I am doing this for him or anyone else, then what is the point of doing it at all? People come and go, that’s just the way it is. What happens when you are down and the people who said they supported you aren’t there anymore? Me making my own personal goals continues to motivate me and to do this for me because it’s what I want. I thank him to this day for molding me into a great man.

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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