Patriots Draft Prospect: Jason Snelling

With fullbacks Patrick Pass and Heath Evans slated to test the waters of free agency in a little over a week, the Patriots have kept an eye on possible replacements should need be. One draft prospect who expects to get his shot in the league is certainly on the boards. Some have him rated as the third best available. Exclusive Q & A inside

Ed Thompson: Tell us a little bit about your hometown and family.

Jason Snelling: Originally I'm from Toms River, New Jersey. It's in the central part of New Jersey. I lived there most of my life up until high school. When I was a junior I went to high school in a little place outside of Richmond called Chesterfield County. I grew up in a two parent home, two great parents and I had two great brothers. I've been playing football all of my life from the time I played Pop Warner in New Jersey all the way up to before I moved to Richmond.

ET: You had a terrific high school career from the numbers I saw.

JS: I was pretty much always tops in rushing in not only the areas that I played in, but also in the state. It was a time when I feel like I really developed and came into my own as a football player.

ET: In high school you were more of a traditional tailback, but at Virginia you got some time at both fullback and tailback, right?

JS: Yeah, that's correct. In high school I was the traditional tailback, an every-down running back. At Virginia, there were a lot of good running backs when I arrived and coach came to me and said he wanted to get me on the field early, so he moved me to fullback. It was an adjustment because even though I had played running back all my life, I wasn't used to blocking as much, so moving to fullback was really different for me. But I was able to get on the field early and make a lot of plays and learn the position; and I became really comfortable with it and excelled at it in my college career. During my junior year I played fullback and I started to play a lot of running back in the Single-I backfield, splitting my time. After the season was over, coach came to me and told me he was moving me to tailback for the next season which I was very happy about. He told me he felt that I deserved it and he thought that I was ready to be a feature back.

ET: What do you feel you've gained going from tailback to fullback that might give you an edge in this draft?

JS: I've become a more complete player. Before I came to college I was just a pure running back and I wasn't used to pass protection as much and I wasn't used to throwing a lot of blocks until I was a fullback. Now, I'm very comfortable doing both positions which is going to give me an edge over a lot guys.  If I get to a team and they want me to play fullback I'm very comfortable in that role. And if they want me to play running back I can do that too -- or I can do both. Not many other guys have that ability and experience heading into the draft.

ET: You saw action as a freshman, catching 31 passes and making 12 special teams tackles in just nine games.  How did you get noticed, because that's going to be important at the next level in training camp?

JS: I just seized the moment when there was an opportunity whether it was catching the ball in the backfield or making a block for my teammate or just running down there on a kick-off.  I knew I had to make the most of my opportunities to excel at the college level. I was taught that as a kid from my father, when you get an opportunity make the most of it, and that was my mindset coming in.

ET: What types of special teams work do you have under your belt and where do you feel like you excel?

JS: Other than field goal teams, I've played on every special team. I've played on kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt return, and punt. On punt I played right guard and tackle. I was on the front line on kickoff return, and I've played the back line on kickoff return. I've done it all and I can play punt return too. I've done them all and I've been able to be successful because anything I do I'm going to work hard to try and be the best at it.

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