Question Session - UMass G/T Vlad Ducasse

In their draft issue, PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki has the Jets picking UMass tackle/guard Vladimir Ducasse at 29. What a wonderful story. His father sent him to the U.S. from Haiti to live with an uncle in Stamford, at the age of 14. And now he's a potential late first round draft pick. His family home in Port-au-Prince was destroyed in the earthquake. He's a great kid with a big smile . . .

Q)How is the draft process going for you?

Ducasse: Everything has been going well. I'm excited. It's a blessing. Not many people get a chance to be invited to the NFL combine. The experience is great.

Q)How much did the earthquake impact your family in Haiti?

Ducasse: It was a little setback when I found out what happened. When I heard from my family and that everyone was OK, after the two days I came back and started working out again.

Q)How much family do you have back in Haiti? Ducasse: My father is still back there. I have two uncles. A couple of cousins.

Q)What city are you from in Haiti?

Ducasse: Port-au-Prince.

Q)What happened to your family's home in Port-au-Price?

Ducasse: Our house went down actually. (We lost) pretty much everything, they have to find another place to stay at.

Q)When was the last time you were in Haiti?

Ducasse: I haven't been back ever since I came here (at 14).

Q)What is your size?

Ducasse: I'm about 6-4 ½ and weighed in at 330 pounds.

Q)What position are teams talking about?

Ducasse: Right now they have me listed as offensive tackle. Left side, right side, I can play any position on the line.

Q)How much pride to you take in representing UMass?

Ducasse: I'm here representing my school and my country so there is a lot of pride.

Q)What did you learn about dealing with inside moves at the Senior Bowl?

Ducasse: One thing I've learned is that the inside move, the problem was that I was oversetting and getting out too much. I need to be a little more patient.

Q)What position did you play during the Senior Bowl Week?

Ducasse: I only played at left tackle, the left side.

Q)Have you talked to Gosder Cherilus of the Detroit Lions, who has a similar story, coming from Haiti at the age of 14?

Ducasse: I've talked to him a couple times, this season, early on, he was trying to tell me about the process, trying to help me out.

Q)Why did you go to UMass?

Ducasse: I didn't know the difference between D-I and D-IAA and UMass was my first scholarship. It was close to home (Stamford) so I went to UMass.

Q)How did you get into football?

Ducasse: I started playing football my junior year of high school. I was walking down the hallway. I was about 275 [pounds], and a couple of my friends and the coach came out and wanted me to try out for football. It was pretty exciting, you get to hit someone else without getting in trouble.

Q)Did you put the pads wrong on at first?

Ducasse: I probably did [laughing].

Q)What do you bring to the table for an NFL team?

Ducasse: I like competing, I'm physical. Up at this level, everybody is talented, everybody is athletic, everybody is fast, they just want to be able to see you finish and be physical and that's what I think I bring to the table.

Q)When your father decided to send you and your brother to the United States at 14, were you against it?

Ducasse: I wasn't against it. Me and my brother came to this country and we lived with my uncle. We're very close. I was excited.

Q)How hard was it for your uncle in Connecticut financially?

Ducasse: He's been working pretty hard, going to work at 6 in the morning and coming back at 2 in the morning. Financially, it's not there, but he tries.

Q)How tough was the language barrier when you got here?

Ducasse: At school, my freshman year, that first year was a little hard, but a couple teachers, they were also bilingual and they helped me out.

Q)What do you have to do to get your citizenship?

Ducasse: The whole process is that whatever team I end up with I'll be able to continue the process after that.

Q)Didn't the government say, after the earthquake, that Haitians could stay here?

Ducasse: Pretty much something like that, yeah.

Q)How did you get the name Vladimir in Haiti; it's more of a Russian name . . .

Ducasse: There are a lot of people there with the name Vladimir. I don't know.

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