What were your impressions of your week at the Senior Bowl?
It's just a big job interview is how you have to take it. I went down there knowing it was going to be a long week. It turned out to be a very long week. But it's fun. You have to take it as it is and that's how a took it – a big job interview.
How much was there in terms of Q&As with teams and other things off the field?
There was quite a bit. Sunday, you get a little bit of a physical and then you do some psychological tests, and meeting with teams and questionnaires. That's all week. When you're not in practice, you're meeting with teams.
Did you meet with quite a few teams? Were there teams that you spent more time with than others?
I met with quite a few teams. It was a pretty filled day. You woke up. You had practice from 9:30-11. Then, you had meetings until 2, team meetings. Then you had scout meetings. Then you had GM and coaches' meetings until you went to bed.
Did you guys practice to prepare to play in the bowl or was it more a showcase for the scouts?
It was pretty much just so the scouts can get a look at you. There wasn't much teaching. It was pretty efficient, just real basic, an hour and a half tops. You would do like four or five specific drills, and if you mess up on a rep, that's on you. There aren't many re-dos. It's pretty much just 100 percent for the scouts.
What type of feedback did you get about yourself?
I think I did pretty good. I think I got a lot of good feedback from a lot of different people. I felt like I had a really good week.
What do you feel like you have to prove during this time leading up to the draft?
Size doesn't matter, you know, what's an inch and a half? That's not going to do much for you on the football field if you're not a football player.
Does your perceived height disadvantage perhaps limited the number of options you have because you might be pigeonholed or deemed not a fit for a certain system?
The thing is, you only need one team that likes you. There are 32 teams out there, but you only need one team that likes you enough to draft you. I'm not too worried about getting pigeonholed as long as one team likes me enough to draft me.
How much do you think the success you guys had at Iowa this season has helped you in terms of draft stock?
Iowa is a very respected program just in meetings with people and meeting with teams and coaches. They have a lot of respect for Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and the program he runs. I don't think it's just a winning season. They know it's a good program and that's it's run very professionally. Win or lose, Iowa is respected. The players that come out of it are respected just because they had to go through Iowa.
What's it like to be in this position?
I'm having fun with it. I mean, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be able to retire when I'm young. I want to be able to raise a family and not have to go to work everyday. You have an opportunity to do that if you're successful playing football. So, I'm having fun with it. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself at all. But you have to train hard. You have to look at it like you're at a job interview, and if you don't put enough stock in it, you're not going to succeed. So, you've got to work hard and you have to work your butt off like you have for four and a half years. But you can't put too much pressure on yourself, or you're just going to collapse.
Is this a surprise to you that you're here when you look back at high school, where you weren't heavily recruited? You came in to Iowa as a linebacker and was switched to defensive tackle. Did you see this way back then?
It's funny listening to the people on your end, but yeah, this is what my dream has been for a long time. So, yeah, I pictured it many of times. But I still knew I had to work hard. I knew it wasn't just going to be given to me.
Why is it funny to listen to people on our end?
Because you say I wasn't heavily recruited. I ended my recruiting two weeks into it. I wasn't trying to get recruited heavily. I got Iowa to offer me. That's all I needed. If I waited for a while, I probably would have gotten a lot more offers. People that, no offense, that are in your shoes and reading the things on the internet, it's how they perceive things. It's funny just hearing things and hearing the gossip and talk out there.
No offense taken at all, and I'm guilty as charged.
Did you start training with Coach Doyle before you left for the Senior Bowl?
Yes, I started two weeks before I left for the Senior Bowl.
How did that prepare you for the Senior Bowl and what are your thoughts on his program that prepares you for this process?
Coach Doyle is the best around. I talked to a lot of guys down there that didn't stay at their school to train. Everybody left to go to Arizona or California to some specialist they think is good. My training started four and a half years ago. They put a great foundation on it. A lot of schools just get you ready to play games on Saturday, but Coach Doyle and his staff make your foundation better. He builds you into a football player which helps you when you decide to train for the NFL. You already have your foundation built, you just need to polish things up. That's why there have been so many successful people that go to the combine that stick around here to have a successful combine and pro day.
What is the camaraderie like with the guys in this Iowa draft class?
It's a good bunch. We joke around and we have fun, but we're there to get better and we're there to work. We're such good friends that we can have fun with it. It's enjoyable to go and work out with these guys every day. You've been here three, four, five years with this guys and it's a real treat to know they're having the same goal as you and you're pushing each other hard every day.
What is Coach Doyle working on with you that will help you in the scout's eyes when you're testing?
He's just making sure I run efficiently, that I run straight ahead, not side to side. I have a tendency to run across my body a little bit and lose power going straight down the field. That's what's great with him. He knows exactly what he's looking for. He finds out your flaws and your deficiencies.
Which teams were you impressed with that you spoke with down there?
I was impressed with quite a few. Some of them you meet with it's really in-depth. It's really encouraging. Some of them are just logistical things you get out of the way before the combine. A lot of the guys that didn't go to the Senior Bowl are going to fill out the paperwork for hours on end at the combine. That's what the Senior Bowl is for, kind of. You have some meaningful meetings with scouts , D-Line guys and D-coordinators. For the most part, you fill out the paperwork so you can have more meaningful conversation at the combine.