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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Shane Solberg, WR, Northwestern College (Iowa)

Shane Solberg is a very prolific WR for Northwestern College being named twice as an NAIA All-American. He already has career totals of 3180 receiving yards and 31 TDs.
  • Name: Shane Solberg
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 190 lbs
  • Position: WR
  • College: Northwestern College (Iowa)
  • Twitter: @_Shane_Solberg_

Tell us about your university/college. Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?

Northwestern is overall a great college that stresses Christian community and emphasizes integrated learning. While at Northwestern, I have been able to sort of get out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. A couple of those ways are through chapels on challenging topics, a leadership position on a service project, and through community service. Northwestern is based in the heart of small town Iowa and has a population of around just 6,100 people. Because of the small population and small town feel, our team is pretty well known around the community. I was born and raised in small town Iowa so all the corn and lack of things to do doesn’t really bother me that much. I’ve learned that it truly doesn’t matter where you are but rather iwho you are with.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
My teammates have said that my best quality is my leadership. After football sophomore year, I realized that I hadn’t led as much as I wanted to. Prior to college, my style of leadership was simply by action. In high school, I was never one to talk in front of the team or call people out but rather I just did things the right way and hoped people would follow. Last year, I became a much better vocal leader while still leading by action and it showed. I was chosen a team captain by my teammates which was very humbling and exciting for me. 

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

On our team, I have established myself as a playmaker. I’m fortunate enough to have an OC that moves me around on the field and puts me in great places to make plays. I often get challenged to make plays and take heavy ownership in doing just that. I have done most of my work out of the slot and I see myself as more of a true slot WR before anything else. That said, I love seeing a little press man coverage while lined up as a wide out. One thing that I have learned and really worked at is my blocking ability. Freshman year, I was flat out bad. Since then, I have evolved into a much better run blocker and I even have a couple pancakes on my film. The schemes that I think best fit me are RPO schemes, air raids, and pro style offenses. Those schemes work best for me because they allow me to get in space and move around on the field with motions. 

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

The best player that I’ve played against in college would have to be Connor Niles. Connor played WR at Morningside two years ago. He had an incredible career there and his senior season was statistically the best the NAIA has ever seen. Just by watching him play from the sideline, I was able to see how technically sound his routes were. I also remember him making a few impressive grabs on our sideline during our game. He proved himself to be the best receiver in the NAIA that year. 

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

I think the teammate that impresses me most would have to be Canon Flores. He is also a receiver and is one of the hardest workers that I know. He has continued to push me since day one of college football, and he hasn’t missed a beat either. He hasn’t let lack of targets or opportunities get him down and that is something that I feel is super rare. We are very close and enjoy constantly challenging each other in the weight room, on the field, and even in our relationships with other people. Canon is poised for a big year in 2020.  

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

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

I think the biggest struggle that I have overcome was sophomore year of high school baseball. I came off a huge freshman year of batting almost .400 and was only batting around .150 through the first half of the season. Mentally, I was weak. I beat myself up after every at bat, struggled to find energy and joy to play the game, and just overall became a wreck. After a couple of thrown helmets, one of my mentors reminded me that it was just a game. He told me to focus on my teammates and to stop worrying about myself so much. After hearing that and trusting his guidance, I turned my season around and led our team to a solid playoff run. I think that conversation is what has allowed me to enjoy the game of football so much and also to lead so well. It serves as a constant reminder to never let my highs get too high or my lows get too low. 

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

I think it would probably be baseball. I love a good game of pickup basketball but as I get older, I have realized how beautiful and yet challenging the game of baseball is. As a senior, I was 3rd team All-State center fielder and batted around .450 for my team. Strategically thinking, the MLB would be a very safe and sustainable career. Baseball is an incredible game but never quite gave me the adrenaline and pure joy that football has.

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

I’m a 2-time NAIA All-American; although, I would say as cliche as it sounds, the thing that I would call my biggest achievement is the multiple times that I have been looked up to as a mentor. I get so much joy from helping and supporting past/current teammates, siblings, and classmates. I take pride in choosing to make the right decisions, and I have a gift in helping others do the same. That being said, I think my favorite achievement was receiving the Bernie Saggau Award for my high school class. That award is given to a standout athlete who, “exemplifies a patriotic spirit, with strong religious & moral convictions, living and professing the qualities of honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship”. That award was very special to me because it recognized my character along with my athletic ability. It made me realize that people do notice things like honesty and integrity and that when you are an athlete, there are always eyes on me. Not just while I’m on the field. 

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

The most memorable play of my career happened last year against Morningside. They were defending national champions, and we were both top 10 ranked teams going into the game. Everyone knew that it would be our toughest game of the year. On Morningside’s first drive, they marched down the field and scored. We were a little shook coming out on offense but drove the ball down to around their 30 yard line. We ran a simple passing concept on 3rd and 9 that put me on a simple hitch from the slot with a corner route outside of me and a flat stretch by our tight end. As I came out of my hitch break, I saw that our QB had already been flushed outside the pocket and was scrambling to my side of the field. I implemented scramble rules right away, spun, and got over the top of the safety that was breaking on my hitch. Of course, it was windy out and the ball hung in the air for an eternity. As I scrambled, I could feel the defense recovering and knew they would have time to make a play on the ball. I high pointed the ball, boxed the two defenders out mid-air, and got my feet down in bounds for the TD. The crowd was instantly electric and I’ll never forget that feeling. I remember thinking that I was on top of the world. I wasn’t there for long though as we ended up losing the game by a score. Regardless of the score at the end of the game, that play was one that I will never forget. 

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

My favorite athletes to watch have always been OBJ and Russell Westbrook. They both bring an incredible passion and energy to their sport. My saved videos on instagram are all highlights and videos of those two. It may be a little weird but they motivate and inspire me to always play with that dog mentality. When Russ throws down a dunk, you feel it. When OBJ scores, he will let you know about it. I don’t see that as them being cocky or arrogant but rather as them knowing how hard they have worked to be able to do things like that. I love it and have a lot of respect for that kind of energy. 

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

I would have to say that my go to artist for pregame is Meek Mill. He’s always got good stuff to vibe with. Before every game of my college career though, I have listened to the song called “Teenage Wasteland” by Puhdys. It gives me a calming release that is always good for the nerves and at this point, there are so many good memories that come with it that I can’t stop now. Along with Meek Mill and Teenage Wasteland, there is always some 80’s rock that is mixed in there. Can’t go wrong with some AC/DC or Motley Crue.

What is your favorite comfort food?

My favorite comfort food is a tie between ice cream and caramel apple suckers. I can’t remember the last time I went a Sunday afternoon without having some type of ice cream. On the other hand, during football season, I always have a bag of caramel apple suckers in my backpack for meetings, walking to class, and even for having in class. They are by far the greatest candy ever made. 

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?

My favorite movie would have to be SouthPaw with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams. It is a story about a boxer who is incredibly arrogant until he loses his incredible wife in a shooting. After that, he loses it and loses his daughter to the state in the process. Next, he goes broke and has to find a way out of the hole he dug. Eventually he figures himself out and starts fighting again. Not gonna lie, it’s a tear jerker in some parts. I love it for the hype fights as well. 

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

I would say my favorite hobby is snowboarding. In the cold Iowa winters, I snowboard a lot. I also have taken a couple trips to Montana and Colorado to find some real mountains. I’ve been doing it since around 6th grade so I’ve gotten pretty good. There is nothing like getting out and seeing incredible new places that are covered with white powder. This summer, I have picked up another hobby in learning to play the ukulele. Prior to this instrument, I have never played anything else. I’m not very good at it yet but it has been super fun to experiment with different notes and to see myself get a little better every time I play. The plan is to play for my teammates when we get back together in August. No promises on that deadline though. Between lifting, work and football workouts, there isn’t a ton of time for practicing. 

Who or what motivates you the most?

I am an extremely motivated individual. I think what motivates me most is the fear of finishing up football and realizing that I should’ve worked harder. I hate selling myself short in anything. A guy I listen to always says that there’s only two things that are guaranteed in life. One of those is that we are going to die and the other is that we are going to pay taxes when we are here. That is a constant motivation for me because I don’t want to ever just go through the motions in anything that I do. Right now, it’s football that I don’t want to be average at. Later, it’ll be parenting and being a leader in my community that I won’t want to be average at. It’s a lifestyle at this point and I’m extremely motivated by it. 

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