NFL Draft Q&A: DE Noland Burchette

Virginia Tech's Noland Burchette talked to Scout.com's Ed Thompson about what separates him from the other defensive ends in this draft, why he chooses to play through serious injuries, his most memorable play at Virginia Tech and much more in this exclusive interview!

Ed Thompson: Tell us a little bit about your hometown and your family life growing up…

Noland Burchette: I'm originally from Richmond, Virginia. I grew up with my mother, my father, and my older sister. None of them really played sports so playing sports was something I would do with some of my friends and I eventually started liking football and I started playing.

ET: What are some attributes that separate you from other defensive ends in your draft class?

NB: I really think it's my quickness and my size. I'm around 260 (pounds), I'm very quick side-to-side.

ET: You don't have what people refer to as a "weight room kind of body", but you do have that speed. How did that come about?

NB: Going into college I was only 215-220 pounds, so I was a pretty good athlete. I tried a couple of positions and they told me they'd like me to play defensive end and told me to gain weight. So I gained weight as fast as I could, any way I could. So I don't have the body build of a natural athlete, but I think as I've been toning up and getting used to running with that size, I just adapted to it.

ET: Some people may not think you have a weight room physique, but you were one of the Super Iron Hokies in 2005 -- so you can definitely pump the iron.

NB: Yeah, putting the weight on so fast I didn't have time to put it on and tone it up, put more on and then tone it up. But I'm still one of the strongest defensive ends to come from Tech and one of the fastest to come from Tech. I just didn't have the body like everyone else. I just had to catch up to everybody. I still did everything I had to do, I just didn't have the same results body-wise as others.

ET: You had a shoulder injury and an arm injury during your college career that would have sent many players to the sideline. But you continued to play. Tell us about that shoulder injury.

NB: I had to get wrapped up every game. I took a couple of aspirins before the game. But I knew I had to compete for my team. I'm the type of player who just loves playing the game and if you're taking me away from the game it would hurt me more than anything else, besides my family and stuff like that, taking me away from the game would just…I don't know. I had to keep digging not just for me, but to show young people that a little thing here and there can't sideline you. You're going to keep coming out here and playing and fight another day. If not, you're basically giving up and you don't really want it the way you say you want it.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
ET: Tell us about breaking your arm last year. And then again in late December.

NB: I broke my arm on April 1st in a regular scrimmage during spring. I went to make a cut and put my hand down to give myself more stability and balance and the fullback was coming trying to cut me. But instead of hitting my legs he hit all arm and snapped my arm in half. I had surgery on April 2nd and I was able to play in the spring again, which was not even two weeks later. They wanted to hold me out because they didn't want me to hurt it more and not be able to play in the season. I don't know how I came back so fast. I just did everything they said, I even went beyond the ordinary; like when I'm at home I'm still trying to rehab it and get the flexibility back. That's the same as when I broke it again in the Georgia game. I broke it on December 30th and I had surgery on January 2nd -- and then I was back training the following Monday.

ET: You had 17 quarterback hurries. What is it about your technique that helps you get pressure on the quarterback?

NB: I think it's the first step. I might have had more hurries and sacks, but the way I play defense is play run and then play pass. I don't believe too many people can get off the line faster than I can run forward, so that was the key. And I was very good at beating them with my hands, using good timing to gain an advantage over what they were trying to do with their hands.

ET: Certainly one of your most memorable plays from your college career had to be your fumble recovery for a touchdown. Tell us about that play…

NB: All I can remember is being on the sideline and we were sitting there talking to each other. We were on the sideline and it was like "man our offense can't get no points, we can't get no points going." So I said "I'm going to get us off the field quick, I'm going to score on this drive." Eventually we went on the field and they ran one play and we stopped them. Then the following play they were running a play-action pass and the running back tried to come stop me. And I just saw the ball pop up in the air and I snatched it out of the air and went to the house.

ET: Tell us about your special teams experience.

NB: Virginia Tech is a team that prides itself on great special teams. My senior year was the only year I didn't play on every special team. This year I just played on the punt team and the field goal block team. I had no problem with playing on special teams, I always wanted to go down there and make the tackle and be the one in the meeting room joking around saying how fast I beat you down there and I made the tackle. Playing special teams for me isn't a big deal I just like playing football.

ET: Imagine you're standing in a room with a bunch of pro scouts and they ask you what you're going to bring that's going to make them excited about putting you on their team?

NB: Determination and commitment. I feel like I have great determination and I'm very committed to whatever I'm doing. And whatever bad things happen, like all of my injuries, I look forward to it I'm ready to fight.

Learn more about Noland Burchette in this Draft Snapshot feature.


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