NFL Draft Q&A: RB Jonathan Dwyer

Jonathan Dwyer knew that he wanted to play in the NFL when he was five years old. Now, just one step away from achieving his dream, he tells's Ed Thompson what he plans to accomplish at the NFL Combine, what influences have led to his illustrious career--and much more in this exclusive interview.

Jonathan Dwyer answers additional questions in this three-minute audio clip exclusively for subscribers. Dwyer talks about how he made his decision to leave Georgia Tech after his junior year, the biggest challenge of preparing for the Combine, his aspirations at a very young age to be an NFL football player, and the outstanding vision he has that has been a key to his success:

Ed Thompson: You've rushed for more than 2,700 yards over the past two years. Why do you think you've been so successful?

Jonathan Dwyer: I think it's just the ability to endure, being physical and being a multi-dimensional running back--not just being a guy who outruns people or a guy who runs over people. I think it saves my body by being able to outrun guys, being able to run around guys and making them miss.

Thompson: Being named ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore and finishing number one in the ACC in rushing certainly had to give you a lot of confidence as you were heading into your junior year this past season.

Dwyer: Yes, it did. That whole season was a phenomenal season for Georgia Tech and for me. I was just taking it all in, just enjoying what happened. My parents said something about winning the Player of the Year Award to me, my dad especially. He said, "You know, maybe if you have a good season you can hurry up and get out of there and save your body." I just laughed and joked around about it. But realizing what the opportunity meant to me, it opened my eyes to what's in store for me.

AP/Mark Humphrey

Thompson: Talk about your parents and how they have helped you get you to where you are today.

Dwyer: My dad, he is my coach and a great guy. He's made me the man I am today. My mom is responsible for making me the person I am today with my character, how I act, how I take care of myself, the way I talk. She is the backbone of everything. And my little brother, Jordan, he's my No. 1 fan. He always tells me what I'm doing wrong. He's pretty much like a second coach and little more hard on me than anybody else. I'm thankful for them. They made me the person I am today and got me to where I'm at today.

Thompson: That's great. How old is your little brother?

Dwyer: He's fifteen years old. He looks like he's nineteen, but he's fifteen.

Thompson: Does he also have football aspirations or does he have other interests that he's pursuing?

Dwyer: He's a football and baseball guy. He's a phenomenal baseball player. Last year he was the first freshman at the school to ever make varsity baseball. So, he's in the record books for that. He's a great football player as well. He's very physical and definitely not scared of anybody. He'll hit you in the mouth if you try to bring it at him. I think baseball might be his calling, but he knows how physical football is and he'll continue to play until it's time to make a decision.

Thompson: What do your parents do? Do both of them work outside the home?

Dwyer: May dad works outside the home. My mom used to work outside of the home, but now she's a stay-at-home mom. She takes care of us and stays on top of us. She makes sure we're doing well in school and staying out of trouble. My dad is a computer engineer, so he's a smart guy. He taught us everything in math and things like that.

Thompson: Jonathan, is there something that you think fans would be surprised to learn about you? Maybe a hobby or something else you've accomplished in your life that you think fans would say, "Wow, I would have never thought that about him."

Dwyer: Really, I'm a laid-back guy. I talk a lot, but only when I'm comfortable. I'm a prankster, some people don't know that. I'm always joking around and having fun. I'm a movie buff. I love watching movies. I guess the weird thing about me--shocking really--is that I can sleep with my eyes open. It's pretty disturbing, but people get used to it once they get to know me a little more.

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Thompson: [laughs] You sleep with your eyes open? Is that just an occasional thing or is that all the time?

Dwyer: It's all the time according to my mom. She got freaked out the first time she saw me when I was a kid. That's probably the weirdest thing I've got for you.

Thompson: Let me run down through a few numbers here for you. Three-year totals--3,226 rushing yards, sixth-best in Tech history. 3,966 all-purpose yards, finished fifth. Thirty-five rushing touchdowns, second place and 36 touchdowns overall, second place. But I think the one that really popped out at me, as impressive as all those other numbers are, is your 17 100-yard games. I think that shows you're going to be one of the guys who's consistently showing up for the game and being a factor every single week.

Dwyer: I want to give my all every week and produce with every opportunity they give me. Whatever opportunity they give me, even if it's only five carries a game, I'm going to make sure I'm productive in the game and be a key asset to the offense.

Thompson: You know how to use your stiff arm effectively. You're a guy who is dishing out as big of a pounding as you're taking, yet you didn't miss a game at Georgia Tech.

Dwyer: That's just the mentality my dad and my high school coach have always taught me. They instilled that in me at a very young age--16, 17 years old--that if you want to have a long career playing football you have to take care of your body. Instead of you taking hits, you've got to be able to put a hit on them as well, make sure they know you can hit them and not just take it. Also, little things like getting in the hot tub, not just getting in after an injury, but most definitely to strengthen up and rehab your shoulders and things like that. Always being in the weight room and working with Coach Ciano, he worked with me to be able to take those hits and to dish them out as well.

Thompson: You've got the physical size to be an effective pass blocker. Talk about your skill in that area and how you've developed it over the years.

Dwyer: Just being more physical and realizing each and every play that you've got to bring it to them, you can't wait on it because most of the guys are bigger and stronger than you. So you've got to hit them before they hit you and to be aware when someone is coming. That comes from watching film and knowing what their tendencies are, listening to your linemen and communicating with them as well.

Thompson: Looking at the pass receiving stats, I think you're at 15 career catches. For fans who haven't watched you play and aren't familiar with Georgia Tech's program, they're probably thinking, "this guy isn't much of a pass receiver." But the offense just wasn't set up that way, was it?

Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Dwyer: No, the offense definitely wasn't set up to throw the ball. That just shows how good of a player Demaryius Thomas was, to have over a thousand yards and be in a run-dominated offense. We ran the ball 99.1% of the time, so I didn't get a lot of passes. The times I did get the passes I caught pretty much all of them. So while I didn't get the opportunities, I took full advantage of the ones I had to show that I could catch the ball.

Thompson: You're already, arguably, the top running back in this draft and I've got to think that NFL teams haven't seen an accurate depiction of your pass-receiving skills and what you can do with the ball after you catch it. I think that really makes you a player in this NFL Draft who could provide an even bigger payoff for the team that selects you than they can even imagine at this point.

Dwyer: Yeah, I think if I go out there in Indiana and just show I can catch the ball on the passing route, that will probably help my stock out a lot, just show that I've worked hard in this offseason so far. I've gotten real lean and have lost some weight. I want to show I can take care of myself and be mature even though I'm only 20 years old. I realize this is a business.

Thompson: Jonathan, are you all set to meet with these NFL head coaches that you've probably only seen on TV?

Dwyer: Yeah, it's going to be pretty cool to actually meet these guys and talk to them face to face. Hopefully someone will hire me to work for them [laughs]. It's going to be an honor. I'm just going to enjoy it, have fun, and take it in stride.

Thompson: What are you going to do if one of those NFL head coaches looks you in the eye and says, "Jonathan, our team is committed to picking a running back in the first round. Tell us why that guy should be you?"

Dwyer: I would say because of the type of player I am and what I can bring to the organization. I'm not going to be a guy who will get in trouble. You're not going to have to worry about anything off the field. I will be 100 percent committed to the team and do whatever I can to be a great player, because that's what I want to be. If you're looking for guy who is a complete back, one who can run inside, outside, pass block, catch the ball out of the backfield, run some routes in the slot, kick returns, then I'm your guy.

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You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter (@Ed_Thompson). A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at

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