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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: C.J. Siegel, DB, North Dakota

C. J. Siegel is a very quick and instinctive defender in North Dakota's secondary. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
C. J. Siegel is a very quick and instinctive defender in North Dakota’s secondary. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: C. J. Siegel
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 184 lbs.
  • Position: DB
  • College: University of North Dakota
  • Twitter: cjsiegel_
  • Instagram: cjsiegel_

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
Balancing classes and football was tricky when I first got to college. It took me a while to get to where I am. Yet, with the help of the advisors, I have put myself in good academic standing. I am currently majoring in Communications, and I might be building on that with a master’s in the future. I’ve completed an internship at the YMCA, coaching football to kids and learning the flow of practice at every position.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I’m on our team’s leadership council, and I lead in my own way. I may not be as vocal off the field, giving speeches. Yet, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go, and I make sure to communicate while we’re out on the field. The younger players also know that they can come to me with any problem or question and that I will find a way to help them out.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
At first, when I was a lighter DB during my freshman and sophomore years, I relied on coverage. Yet, as the years progressed, I’ve made strides in my ability to tackle during the game, and I take pride in my ability to show up in run support.

I’ve done a lot of different things during my time here. I’ve shown that I have the ability to come off the edge and blitz. I’m comfortable being in a cover-2, being physical and prepared for a run play. I like playing man, yet I excel at playing zone where I am able to see more of the field and react to the play. I’ve mainly played as an outside corner although I expect to play many snaps in the slot this season. As far as special teams, I’ve been very effective on FG blocks and I have been given a couple opportunities to be a return specialist.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
Looking at the most recent draft, I played against Christian Watson at NDSU who is a game-changer. He’s really athletic with tons of speed, and you have to respect that. I’ve had good battles with him.

My freshman year, I played against JJ Koski who was a receiver at Cal Poly. He’s currently playing for the Rams. He challenged me early on, and I followed him wherever he went.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Throughout the years, I was very impressed with John Santiago and Mason Bennett who were animals for our program. They could do it all on the field. You knew that when it was game time that they would do what they do best.

One of my current teammates is Devon Krzanowski. He transferred from St Cloud State and was a crucial addition to our program. He’s one of the leaders on our defense who’s very vocal. He also makes great tackles, shutting down the run game.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
I’ve had a non-stop attitude and desire to get better ever since I came to UND. I came in as a 155 lbs. freshman and struggled against bigger receivers, getting pushed over. I was a receiver in high school, and I knew that I had to get bigger and more aggressive. It was tough at first. Learning good eating habits was a big thing I had to work on. I learned about calorie intake and how much protein I needed to consume. I put in a lot of work in the weight room, gaining good weight and muscle. Over the years, my hard work paid off while gaining 30 lbs., and now I’m able to show that I can consistently compete with any team’s #1 receiver.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
In addition to football, I played basketball and ran track in high school. I was actually recruited by schools for all 3 sports. I was really good at track as a jumper. One of my personal bests was a 46’1” triple jump. Being able to explode off of one leg has really helped translate to football.

To answer the question, I would have probably played basketball. It really came down to my senior year of high school when I started to attend more football camps and began getting looks from D1 schools.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I’m really proud of how I have grown in the classroom. I wasn’t always the best student. Yet, recently, I have been on the Dean’s list and I had a 4.0 last semester.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
The one game that sticks out was during my freshman season against UC Davis. I had 2 picks in that game. Yet, the play that is most memorable is the one that didn’t count. UC Davis was around the 30-yard line and lined up for a field goal to win the game. I got a great jump on the snap and got in the backfield, blocking the kick. However, the play clock had expired on the play, and it didn’t count. That pushed them back out of field goal range where they went for it on 4th down. We were able to hold them off, winning that game 38-36.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
Being from Wisconsin, I’ve always been a Packers fan. I admire players like Jalen Ramsey who talks his talk and continues to be one of the best in the game. Marcus Peters is one of my favorite players. He has the ability to make plays on the ball and get after it in the run game.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
Lil Baby is my favorite music artist. His song “That’s Facts” is a must on my playlist on game days.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Chicken Alfredo.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite TV show is Game of Thrones. My favorite actor has to be Denzel Washington.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out and chilling with my friends, maybe getting in a game of golf. I’ve grown an appreciation for art and creativity. I have a roommate that has his own clothing brand company that everyone needs to check out (https://rockymountainfaith.com/)

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
The reason that I play is that it’s a getaway. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed being on the field making plays. Having my dad as a coach was a lot of fun. My parents are my biggest motivation. What people may not know is that I’m adopted. I’m blessed to be in a loving environment. My parents have done a lot to put me in the position that I’m currently in. It would be a disservice if I didn’t give it my all on the field. My goal is to make the most of all the opportunities that I have been given.

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