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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Jake Hlava, DE/LB, Grand Valley State

Jake Hlava
Jake Hlava is a very physical edge rusher out of Grand Valley State University. He recently sat down with Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Jake Hlava
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 255 lbs
  • Position: DE/OLB
  • College: Grand Valley State University
  • Twitter: @HlavaMan_5
  • Instagram: jhlava_5

Tell us about your university/college. What is your major/minor? Have you participated in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
I graduated in December from Grand Valley State with a degree in Finance. I’m working on the next step in my career as it pertains to a Post-Graduate Degree, but I’m working towards becoming a Sports Agent after I finish my football career. 

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I think they would say just the love, passion and energy I bring to the game and when I step on that field. I always bring the same drive every day no matter the circumstances. 

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

I see myself as one of the top playmakers on our Defense and stepping into more of a leadership role in my Senior year. I would say at the next level I’m best suited in a hybrid role (DE/OLB)  where I can execute traditional Defensive End responsibilities while also utilizing my athleticism to drop into coverage and execute Linebacker responsibilities as well. 

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
Without a doubt Max Scharping (Current Starting LG for the Houston Texans) from my days at NIU. He was a huge dude who was very strong but could also move his feet really well too. He was also very technically sound and intelligent. You rarely caught him out of position. 

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
I would say Tyler Bradfield. He moves really well and is very strong for his size, but the part that impresses me the most is his laser-like focus and intensity on the field. 

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
I would say transferring from Northern Illinois was a big struggle for me that I was able to overcome. I had built a strong bond with my teammates over the course of 2.5 years but at the end of the day it just wasn’t the right fit for me and things weren’t exactly clicking between me and coaches so I had to do what was best for me and move on.

The way I overcame that struggle was to never complain when things didn’t go my way but to learn and grow from the hardships I endured at NIU. When I finally found the right fit for me at Grand Valley I took the opportunity, ran with it and never looked back. All I ever needed was a genuine opportunity, and I am so grateful to have finally gotten that.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I would say basketball. My dad played at St.Norbert College back in the day and has always been pretty good at it but I just never continued it after middle school. I think if I put more time and focus into it and didn’t play football I would be a solid basketball player. 

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
It might sound weird, but being named All-State in High School was extremely rewarding and satisfying to me because it was a perfect example of setting a high goal for myself and manifesting that into reality. A lot of people didn’t believe I was capable of playing at that level but I always believed in myself deep down, and it was extremely satisfying to not only achieve a high goal that I set for myself but prove people wrong in the process. 

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
My first sack at Grand Valley State in my first game vs U-Indy was extremely memorable to me. I was the Left End and the O-Line slid to the right, and the RB stepped up to pass protect. I went to rush through the C-gap when I saw the QB start to bail out of the pocket so I spun outside, chased him down and tracked him down for the sack. This play was so memorable to me because I truly felt like all the work I had put in all my life was finally paying off and I was truly in a zone of just playing naturally and not thinking at all. 

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
My favorite athlete has always been Ray Lewis because of the passion and intensity he brought to the game for almost 2 decades. Because of that, I’ve been a Ravens fan for as long as I can remember. 

Because Ray Lewis plays Off-ball Linebacker and I’m a Defensive End I try to model my game off of Lawrence Taylor and Von Miller. For LT, I just loved the energy and the “I can’t be blocked” mindset he brought to the field, and I try to emulate that as much as I can when I’m on the field. In today’s NFL, I love Von Miller’s game because he is so unbelievably smooth and crafty with his pass rush repertoire, I try to work on a lot of the moves he works because I don’t think there is a better rusher out there in today’s NFL. 

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
My favorite music artist is Kanye West, but before the game I honestly listen to a lot of movie soundtracks. For whatever reason it gets me super hyped before games. I really like Hans Zimmer and his soundtracks from The Dark Knight and Inception as well as Ramin Djawdi and his Game of Thrones soundtracks. 

What is your favorite comfort food?
I really crave candy from time to time, so I’m big on the Starburst Mini Sours. Those are really good, and I can put a bag of those down pretty fast. 

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?
My favorite movie is Scarface. I love this movie because while a lot of the stuff he does is very questionable, it’s the story of a guy who comes from nothing but has an extremely ambitious mindset and works his way to the top proving a lot of people wrong along the way. There’s also a ton of classic scenes and quotes from that movie that I love. 

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I would say I have a lot of hobbies and try to keep myself entertained when I’m off the field. I’m a big movie guy and love binge watching a good TV series. I’m also really into Fantasy Football and reading a good book from time to time. 

Who or what motivates you the most?
Honestly I just want to be the best in whatever I put myself to in life. I’ve never been interested in living an average life so I’ve always been willing to do whatever it takes to be the best in my field. I’ve also always believed that I am in control of my own fate so I really just try to push myself to my limits every single day to see how great I can really become. 

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