The hard work Hood has put in during his career is about to pay off, as he's ready to take his game to the next level.
Chris Steuber: Before we look forward to what your football future holds, let’s look back for a moment. How would you describe your experience at Missouri? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Ziggy Hood: It was a tough transition when I first got on campus. I had to get used to everything from the teaching in school to the speed of the game at the college level. There were a lot of good times. I have a lot of good and bad memories. But, overall I think the whole college experience gave me a solid step forward in life and a boost towards what I’ll do in the future.
CS: What were some of those good and bad memories?
Hood: The good memories were the grades I achieved, the people I met, winning football games and learning a lot from Coach [Gary] Pinkel. The bad memories I had at Missouri were just the games we lost. I hate losing.
CS: What is a typical day for Ziggy Hood at this point?
Hood: Well, I’m currently training at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, and everyday is pretty much the same. I wake up at 7 a.m. and get ready for my 8:30 a.m. workout. I eat breakfast; get my (protein) shake right. I like to get my mind right before I start my workout, so when I get up there I’m ready for anything they throw my way. We run, stretch, warm-up, run again; that takes about 2 ½ hours. Then we go straight to the weight room. We’re in the weight room for a while, and when we finish lifting, we stretch again. After that, I go home, take a nap and do what ever I have to do the rest of the day.
CS: You had a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl and really opened some eyes among the scouts and media. Did you find your time in Mobile to be beneficial?
Hood: The week at the Senior Bowl was a good chance to put my name out there. Coming into the week, I didn’t really have that much publicity about myself as a player. But, during the week, I did everything I could, tried my best and put my name out there for everyone to notice. It was a learning experience to see where you stand, as far as making it in the NFL. I learned a lot about myself going up against the very best in the country. I had a chance to realize my strengths and my weaknesses, and that’s what I’ve been trying to improve on this offseason.
CS: How did you feel about having NFL coaches coach you at the Senior Bowl?
Hood: It was a positive experience; the NFL coaches give it to you straight. What ever you needed help on, the coaches told you what to correct. But it was up to you to make the adjustments and put in the extra work to be better.
CS: One of the most interesting happenings at the Senior Bowl is the meetings the players have with NFL teams. How were those meetings for you and did you get a sense that a team was showing more interest than another?
Hood: During the interview process, I didn’t really get a sense as to what team showed more interest in me than another, because they all ask you the same questions - they try to get to know you. The whole experience was great, not too many people get to talk to actual NFL scouts. For me to just be interviewed by an NFL team was great, and I didn’t really care what team they were from, as long as they were considering me as a possible draft pick.
CS: You mentioned that teams asked you the same questions. The main purpose of those interviews is to conduct general background checks on a player. But was there a team that got more detailed in their approach and actually asked you to break down a defensive situation?
Hood: In most of my interviews they basically conducted a background check. I had a very positive meeting with the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but in my meeting with the Seattle Seahawks, I sat in with the General Manager, Head Coach and most of the coaching staff. They really drilled me and tried to find out if I had a high football IQ. I think I impressed them, but looking back I felt like I was poorly dressed for the meeting. I had just woken up from a nap and I had no idea what I should wear. I was just trying to get to the meeting on time. I thought that was more important than the clothes I was wearing.
CS: That’s interesting, because the Seahawks could use some help in the trenches and you’re a player who could definitely give them a boost. What did the Seahawks contingency ask you that made you believe they were interested?
Hood: They wanted to understand my football knowledge, as far as me knowing my assignments and my teammate’s assignments in a specific defense. They wanted me to point out where I’d be if a certain play was called and try to pick up different schemes of the offense and defense. It was pretty intense.
CS: Being involved in those interviews in Mobile will really help you as you get ready for Indianapolis next week. What did you take away from the Senior Bowl - whether it was positive or negative - that you’ve been concentrating on in your training as you prepare for the Scouting Combine?
Hood: I’ve been trying to polish up my technique, work on my skills, as far as coming off the ball with the right steps. I’ve been trying to use my hands a lot better; get better leverage on the player I’m going against, and that happens when you make yourself smaller. If I can stay low consistently, which is challenging because I’m 6-3, and get underneath the offensive lineman’s pads, I’ll be able to fight the double team much better.
CS: At 6-foot-3, you have a great frame that could probably take on more weight. But, how comfortable would you feel if you’re asked to bulk up, knowing that you could lose some of your explosiveness?
Hood: I would be fine with it. I think I can [add more weight]. Whoever wants to draft me, I’ll do anything they want me to do. If they want me to play the five technique, I’ll stay at my current weight or lose a couple of pounds. Or, if they want me to play the three technique, I’ll gain five to ten pounds, which won’t affect my motor. I’ll still be able to get up field with that extra size.
CS: What part of the Combine are you really looking forward too?
Hood: I’m really looking forward to showing how well I run. I want to show that I run faster than a five-flat, because I didn’t have the opportunity to run a 40 at my junior Pro Day after I tweaked my hamstring. So, when it comes time for me to run my 40 at the Combine, I’m looking forward to turning some heads and separating myself from the other players at my position.
CS: What do you expect to run in the 40?
Hood: Lord willing, I’d like to get in the 4.8 range, but I’d be happy with a 4.9. If I can do better than a 4.8, that would be a true blessing, and there’s nothing but bonuses after that.
CS: How well do you expect to perform in the bench press?
Hood: I’ve been staying consistent in the weight room during my training and have been putting up 225 pounds in the 30 range. Hopefully when I’m fully energized and ready to go, I’ll be in the mid-to-high 30’s; it could be 31 or 38 reps. It’s all about how I feel that day.
CS: Obviously the Combine is about how well you do in the performance events, but there are some off the field aspects that are important as well. What have you heard about the Wonderlic test, and do you have any thoughts about taking it?
Hood: Back in school, I never really liked tests; it’s something you just have to deal with. I know it’s a test to see if you can think fast on your feet. You have a short period of time to answer the questions and you’re trying to get as many right as possible. If you don’t know the answer, skip over it and move on to the next one. I’m just going to give it all that I got and hope for the best.
CS: What would you classify as a successful Combine for yourself, and how do you envision things unfolding next week?
Hood: I’d like to be in the top-three of everything that goes on at the Combine. Whether it’s in the bench press, running the 40 as a D-Lineman, the three-cone, shuttles, broad and vertical jump; the top three in everything that I do and stand out as a defensive tackle. That would be a success to me, and it would validate all the hard work I put in this offseason.
CS: All the elements that you participate in this offseason will have an impact on where you’re drafted. Personally, I have you projected as a second round pick. What have you heard about your draft status, and do you find yourself surfing the Internet to get an idea?Hood: I look on the Internet like everyone else, and I see that people have me as a late first, early second round pick. But that doesn’t matter; things change. As much as I could rise in the draft, I could also fall to the third or fourth round. At this point, I don’t really care what round I’m selected in; wherever I go.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com.