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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Maurice (Mo) Bradford, LB, Cornell University

Maurice (Mo) Bradford is a play making LB for Cornell University who recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.

• Name: Maurice (Mo) Bradford
• Height: 6’1” 3/4
• Weight: 230
• Position: LB
• College: Cornell University
• Twitter: @mobradford19

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

  • I’m from Hot Springs, Arkansas, a place really known for its hot springs (as you could probably guess) and its great natural areas and lakes. The lakes would probably be the best thing about it in my opinion. They really remind me of times that I’ve spent fishing with my dad. In particular, I remember going out on Lake Hamilton and looking for spots to catch crappie or going to the Fish Hatchery to compete in a catfishing tournament. Those memories of getting grimy and dirty from hooking worms and handling fish are really dear to me which is why the lakes are what I most love about it.
  • A close second though, is my alma mater, Lakeside High School. There, I met some of my closest friends, my girlfriend of 5 ½ years now, and some other really great people who are responsible for me becoming the man I am today. So maybe it’s not the school itself, but the people that it brought into my life. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned came from my high school years: live humbly and benevolent; lead by example; and that you get what you earn. My parents had something to do with me learning these principles, of course, but I learned to live by them at school.

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

  • While all of these are very close in importance, I would have to rank them in the order that they’re in: film study, strength and conditioning, and then practice. My reason is because that’s the order in which I spend my days when talking about football. Either early in the morning or before my first class, I would go to the film room and review personnel and offensive statistics like how many times they ran a certain play in certain formations at a certain down and distance and in certain quarters. That’s a lot of certains, but I understood that really big plays come down to your preparation. The more prepared I was, the more comfortable I felt which allowed me to be a playmaker on the field. After reviewing this information, I would apply that knowledge to the film where I would try to find patterns in what the offense would run against certain defenses. I would also try and figure out what would be the best defense against this formation, or what can I anticipate in this formation. Understanding the game in this way and spending my own time thinking about the game plan was instrumental in how well I performed. After all, a smart player will in the end outperform natural talent, especially as the game becomes more complex.
  • The next part of my day was spent in the weight room. As a linebacker it’s essential to be the most physical player on the field and to have the strength to shed lineman while also having the agility and speed to drop into coverage and plan man. I believe that these attributes are only obtained through training. Without it, it’s hard to expect to be the best at what you do which is a standard I’ve always held myself to. My Junior and Senior year, I earned a spot in our weight room’s wall of honor which commemorates top gainers year-to-year (i.e. increases in lifting maxes, speed, and agility).
  • After training would come practice. At practice, I really got the chance to put my film study and my physical ability to the test. I got the chance to see what would work and what wouldn’t work depending on the defense we ran, and I got a snapshot of what reads I should make and what positions I should be in. Be able to see these things in practice is so valuable because it’s what really solidifies what will work in the game to ensure success. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: What’s the most I can do to help us get a victory? If I asked myself this question, then it would make sense why I spent so much time preparing.

What do you worry about, and why?

  • I worry about not being able to take care of my loved ones. I worry about this because they mean a lot to me, and I feel the need to take care of those who have taken care of me. Not being able to do this would mean that all the effort, time, and toil that they went through to ensure that I had the best that they could offer, was all for not.
  • However, my worry has turned into my motivation. I strive to be excellent and to become successful at whatever I am passionate about because I know it’ll lead to me being able to take care of the people I care most about.
  • In college, this desire to reciprocate generosity has leaked into my studies. I study urban and regional planning where I focus on equity development for disadvantaged populations. Coming from this background, I gained an interest in learning about how I can take care of communities that experience inequality. I’ve had great success in my studies and am now writing an honors thesis about how planners can engage and incorporate marginalized communities in development and policy making.

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

  • A memory that comes to mind goes back to high school my junior year when the team was losing a lot. At the time, I really handled losing horribly and would mope, complain, and would be too negative. I really let my emotions get the best of me, and I didn’t understand the value of failure. After one of our games late in the season. My LB coach pulled me aside and offered some comforting remarks. At the end of our conversation, he asked me to go home and read a poem called “See it Through.” I went home, read it, and one verse really stuck with me: ‘Just remember that you are facing just what other men have met. You may fail, but fall still fighting. Don’t give up, whatever you do. Eyes front, head high to the finish. See it though!’ This verse really made me understand that it’s important to finish things that you start and to do so with a good heart and dignity. Having this mindset allowed me to look at failure from a different perspective and use it to learn and overcome.
  • My Senior year, I led my team to its first conference title in many years, I earned my second all-state distinction, and I was a runner-up for Farm Bureau’s Defensive Player of the Year. I used the lesson I learned from my failure my Junior year, to work hard and to hold my team accountable so that we could all be successful the next year.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

  • My teammates would say my best leadership quality is my ability to lead by example. I would completely agree as I hold ‘being a good example’ as a non-negotiable trait to have. Leading by example shows that you’re all about action, and it’s much easier to put your money where your mouth is when what you can do as already on tape. But beyond this, I believe that leading by example helps others realize that things that are hard to do are possible. I influence my teammates to go hard in the weight room, to have academic success, to do extra training, to spend more time on their own watching film, and to be better men in general. My actions, supplemented by my words, allow me to do this and has made me come to the conclusion that actions speak louder than words.

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

  • The best player I’ve played against in College is Jake Guidone, TE from Dartmouth. Of all the people I’ve gone one-on-one against, he’s the one who’s given me the most fight. Jake is a converted tackle who does a tremendous job creating lanes for a number of running schemes. However, I got the best of him this year as I dominated the edge and played an instrumental role in securing a win over an undefeated opponent. The best part about playing against him was that he challenged my physicality and toughness, and I had to bring 110% of my effort every face off. The most important thing is that he made me a better player. 

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

  • My passion is helping people, and that will be my career path with or without football. In my lifetime, I intend to have a great impact in the field of inequality, and I will work to alleviate structural burdens that people face. I hope to open my own business that connects with city governments and community partners to help them develop plans that are inclusive, equitable, and that actually address the needs of their people. 

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

  • I would clean my room first, and in my college experience, my desk is in my room. I also don’t own a car so I wouldn’t have a reason to clean one of those unless someone asked for my help. But in all seriousness, I would clean my room first because it’s a space that represents me. To neglect it, or to have it appear messy is reflective of myself. I tend not to do things that aren’t in good interest, and I like to keep my life under control and in order, to the best of my ability.

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

  • I would have to choose my family member. To me, family is everything, and to choose not to save one of them is a greater evil. I consider family to be those who are my relatives and those who have invested in me. These people have given me so much, and to betray them is a tough thing to swallow. My family deserve the best of me, and they deserve all of the care that I can provide, especially if I can provide them safety.

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

  • I would be the Incredible Hulk. When I think of him, I think of being resilient, strong, and most importantly, tough. I also think about being brilliant, loyal, and a protector. I value all of these qualities and I strive to exemplify them in my life. Also, not only is he my favorite superhero, but he’s my dad’s as well. In a way, the Incredible Hulk reminds me of my dad whom I admire so much. It would also just be awesome to be able to do the things he can do. I can only imagine what I would look like on the football field, but I’m sure gamma radiation would pop-up on the banned substance list at some point.

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

  • My biggest adversity was learning how to become independent. Growing up, both of my parents worked long hours to make ends meet and at times, my dad would be deployed for months being in the Navy. To help them, I would do my best to help them not worry about me (futile effort). Among a lot of other things, I learned how to cook for myself, how to clean, do laundry, get groceries, get myself from place to place, and how to handle responsibility and take initiative. I say this is my biggest adversity because it wasn’t easy to learn how to do them in the circumstances that I grew up in. I learned though, probably because I needed to. I knew my parents had a lot on their plate, so it was the least I could do. It’s a good thing that I did, and it’s a good thing that I listened to my parents and their teachings because without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  

What is your most embarrassing moment?

  • My most embarrassing moment would probably be from my days as a punter for my high school. During practice I could boot it 50+ yards, but during games I’d be lucky to get it 20 yards. Needless to say, it was quite embarrassing to have 15-yard punt at the end of a close game in front of hundreds of fans including classmates.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

  • My most memorable play was against Columbia my Junior year where I got my first interception. It was the fourth quarter; the score was 10-7 (we were down), and the ball was on their 45. They were in a Trey formation with a super king back ready to run an RPO. They snapped the ball, and I took my read steps with my eyes on the back. I cleared the handoff and snapped my eyes to the TE who was running a seam. I took some drop steps; got my eyes to the QB and saw him release the ball. I tried to fit it over my head, but my vertical got the best of him. I ended up tipping the ball to myself and secured it. I then ran another 15 yards or so until I was tackled. That interception set us up to score and go up in the fourth quarter.

What song best describes your work ethic?

  • A song that describes my work ethic is “Chip on My Shoulder” by Rod Wave. To me, this song is about not forgetting where you came from and to carry the adversity that you’ve overcome with you. Remembering the adversity that I’ve gone through reminds me that I’ve weathered storms when I only expected rain, as Rod Wave writes, and that I have the strength to overcome a lot of challenges that I may face in the future. It reminds me to keep pushing forward and to do it humbly.

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

  • In my opinion, the most important trait to have is to be able to think critically. I think it’s an expectation to be able to physically measure up at the next level, but what sets guys apart is how they understand the game and how they decide to do certain actions in game. Thinking critically will help me prepare for offenses by helping me deconstruct their schemes and tendencies. Knowing what to expect is valuable and will help me do extraordinary things.

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

  • If I could bring back someone for one day, it would be a former teammate and friend of mine. It would be great to spend some time with him and hangout and joke around one last time.

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

  • I would name it the Boom Boom Room after the fictional club in the movie Life. I would name it this because the club in the movie it was a dream club where all of the characters had some sort of role. It meant a lot to the characters and thinking about it got them through a lot in prison. So, I would want the club name to remind people that it’s a place where they can escape and have a good time.

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

  • I think the most underrated player in the NFL is Nick Chubb. He has had a remarkable comeback since his injury in college which ruined his potentially Heisman winning season and hurt his draft stock. Despite these setbacks, he earned a spot on the Browns, and in 2 seasons, he has almost 2500 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. His efforts, among others, has made the Browns relevant again. His stats are getting better and better each year and his ability could make him one of the best backs in the league.

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

  • I would much rather be respected than liked. Being respected means that people are still willing to listen to you and take what you have to say seriously despite any ill feelings against you. Without respect, organizations cannot function and there’s not much progress that relationships can make. In a way, the world runs on respect, and the more respect you have, the more efficiently you can get things done when working with others. My dad taught me respect and instilled in me that if someone doesn’t like you, make sure that they respect you. From his perspective, having respect means that others acknowledge you as at least their equal. Simply put, giving and getting respect is much like the Golden Rule.

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

  • I feel the most for Allen Iverson. He didn’t have the best upbringing and he truly is a product of his environment. However, despite his environment, he was able to do amazing things. He had legal troubles, and many hated his ‘hood’ style, but I think he was widely misunderstood. He made a statement to the NBA and made space for the culture he came from. He represented it proudly and he was criticized. For this reason, I feel for him because he was only being himself which is all anyone could ask for.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

  • From my story about failure, you would know that I used to hate to lose, but I’ve come to understand how important it is. I believe losing a powerful teaching tool and it’s taught me a lot about overcoming failure. Of course, consistently losing is not enjoyable, but there is a lot to learn from it. For this reason, I focus on loving to win. Relishing the win is important and knowing how to celebrate victories in sport and in life in general is vital to happiness. After all winning or succeeding is the ultimate goal for anyone in anything that they do. Looking forward to those moments is more important than hating losing.

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

  • The biggest influencers in my life has been my parents. Without them, I would not have the core values I have today about respect, perseverance, and learning how to work hard. To them, these were nonnegotiable principles, and I am so thankful that they worked so hard to instill them in me. Because of them, I learned to be confident in myself and I learned to how to think independently which aided my work ethic. They equipped me with the skills to be a high achiever, and that has been invaluable so far in my life.

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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