GET TO KNOW THE REESE’S SENIOR BOWL’S TOP 2022 PROSPECTS
Beyond X's and O's with Central Michigan OL Luke Goedeke & Bernhard Raimann
What sports did you play in high school?
- Luke – “I did track & field my senior year and then I did basketball and football throughout my four years.”
- Bernhard – “Well, in Austria it is a little different with the school sports – we don’t really have high school sports. I did soccer and then skiing and all other Winter sports in the Wintertime. During my exchange year I tried wrestling and track.”
So, Bernhard, the Vienna Vikings is actually a big supporter of the Senior Bowl. Can you talk about how much it means to you to have that kind of support all the way back home?
- Bernhard – “I started playing for the Vienna Vikings when I was 14 years old. It is awesome. Especially for them, they have never had someone from their club team make it to the Senior Bowl, so that is a pretty big deal and is amazing to me. They have been supportive of me all throughout my college career and even in high school they encouraged me to come to the US and live out my dream. They helped me out as much as they could with getting in touch with coaches in the US and they really did everything they could to help put me in this position.”
What is your biggest motivator?
- Luke – “My biggest motivator is definitely my family. They kind of poured everything that they could in to me and I just really want to make them proud at the end of the day. Coming from a small community and everything, I just want to represent them.”
- Bernhard – “I would have to say my family as well. They have given so much in their lives to provide me with all the opportunities in my life and I am so grateful for them and everything they have done for me. They are definitely my biggest motivator going through this whole process.”
Can you tell me about the day that you were told you would be moving from TE to OL and what your mindset was?
- Luke – “When I got talked to before I came here, they kind of mentioned that I could maybe play offensive line – this was when I was still a tight end so I really didn’t think anything of it. But, when I got here, within a few weeks I found myself in the offensive line room and I was kind of a little hesitant at first. I mean I’m always open to try new things in life whether it be my position or anything so, I really embraced it after a few days and realized that offensive line is a great opportunity and fits my personality more with being able to uphold my resilience whether it’s in the run game or pass game. I guess the initial day was kind of shocking at first, but it just took some adjusting and getting used to.”
- Bernhard – “They first asked me in the Spring after the 2019 season. We just graduated our left tackle and had some guys out with injuries, so we were kind of short at the position. So, when coach first approached me, he was basically just asking me to help out – he hadn’t called the official position change at that time. Then, that first practice rolled around during spring ball, and I ended up loving it. I definitely didn’t have any sort of technique, but I ended up really enjoying it – I love the position and the physicality of it. Afterwards me and my coach sat down and talked about it and decided it would be a better position for me and my future. It turned out good I guess haha.”
What was the hardest part about moving from TE to OL?
- Luke – “I mean obviously, like Bernhard said, I didn’t have any technique whatsoever going into it. It was definitely more challenging than I thought. People don’t realize how difficult it can be to play offensive line – being the size you are and having to move guys similar size and still be agile, explosive and quick. The hardest part was definitely getting into a comfortable pass setting stance, keeping bound throughout the pass set and being able to pass set efficiently and making sure you are doing it time after time and getting in that rhythm. That was definitely the hardest thing for me.”
- Bernhard – “I would agree, too, pass setting is some sort of an unnatural thing to do because you are going backwards as someone of decent size as least is running at you as fast as he can. That was definitely hard to learn at first but as games went on, I got more and more comfortable with it. The timing of the whole thing was the hardest part for me simply because I had to learn it during Covid. We only had about three practices in before we got shut down and then we didn’t get to be with the coaches or anything for a long time. Spring ball got cut short, we didn’t have Summer workouts and they canceled our season. We didn’t get to have Fall Camp or anything either so just trying to learn all of those techniques while not being around the team, putting on pads, or having coach right there was hard. Just trying to figure it out by recording myself and sending videos to my coaches and trying to learn it by myself was probably the hardest part.”
Who is your role model?
- Luke – “I would definitely say my brother as he is just someone that has really worked hard throughout his life. He is in a great position right now and he is someone who has really guided me throughout life as being my big brother. My parents were divorced growing up so he has kind of been someone I can always go to at the end of the day. He is someone I really look up to and has worked hard throughout his life. Just watching his success through his hard work really showed me that if I put in just as much amount of work if not more then my dreams can come true just as his have. My brother is definitely my biggest role model in life. I want him to come down to the Senior Bowl, I’ll fly him down if I have to”
- Bernhard – “I would say my role model would be my grandmother. She was always there for me my whole life. She worked two jobs for as long as I’ve known her. She was able to run a marathon until her mid-sixties haha, but she always worked her tail off whether she was working or taking care of me when I was younger. Just her work ethic is something I learned from her growing up and I always appreciated.”
What is your favorite college football memory?
- Luke – “I would say my favorite college football memory was playing in 2019 at Ball State where we were down by 20 or so at halftime and we just ended up fighting back and winning by one or two points. Each team was in the high 40s and I just remember everyone on the team just gave their all-out effort and we were just all so happy after the game. Being able to come away with that victory was definitely the high light of my college football career so far.”
- Bernhard – “I would say finally beating Western. I came in 2018 and we lost to them my first three years of playing, so finally getting the chance to beat them, and bringing the trophy home just meant the world to me and to all the older guys on the team. It was just a great team victory, and it was great celebrating with the team.”
Bernhard, can you tell me a little bit about the cultural differences between growing up in Austria and then coming to the US and playing at Central Michigan?
- Bernard – “In Austria, the whole football community has grown and is becoming more and more popular. When I first started playing, there was not much hype around the NFL compared to now. They televise at least two or three games every Sunday with German commentators and stuff. It is becoming more and more popular for them to watch it every Sunday. Again, the whole football identity isn’t there as much as it is here. Here, starting in high school, you have the whole Friday Night Lights thing where the whole town shows up to the home games and everything, whereas, in Austria, it is all club teams – there are no school sports in that sense so people that come to the games are just parents or friends of the players. The whole school spirit starting in high school and then in college, too, is one of the reasons I wanted to come over here – to experience the American Dream for football and to play in front of crowd like this.”
Luke, when did you realize that you were good enough to try to get an FBS scholarship at Central Michigan, or walk-on to a school like Wisconsin?
- Luke – “I was playing at Stevens-Point my freshman year, a DIII school. Initially when I went in to play at Stevens-Point, my goal was to play DI and see where football would take me, but I had it set in my head that it would take me two years there before I could try and transfer somewhere. So, after my first year, I got film and stuff and my parents thought, ‘look, what if I am good enough to transfer after this year, I mean it would just burn a year of eligibility – like why not try and reach out to some coaches. The worst they could say is no.’ So, I made up some film myself on Hudl – I spent hours going through every game and getting some clips. I had one of the coaches’ business cards here from the old coaching staff at CMU that came in and talked to one of our other players at my high school. He talked to me as a secondary option and offered to give me a tryout maybe but that was not really something I was interested in. So, I had his business card and I ended up finding the Wisconsin tight end coach’s email online – so, I emailed both coaches telling them a little bit about myself along with the film. I was completely naïve and had no idea how to go about the process, so I just emailed them introducing myself and asking if I could get on a call with them. I honestly asked them if I could just have a walk on spot or a chance to try out. I mean I had given it my everything and then two or three weeks went by, and I didn’t hear back – it was pretty disappointing at the time. I thought maybe there was just no interest, but then one of my friends from Stevens-Point mentioned something that I had to send out a letter to contact before other schools could talk to me about possibly transferring. So, I completed that and within the next day or two they both reached out. Wisconsin was a walk-on opportunity and had to make enrollment first and then I would have to try out for the team, so there was kind of an unknown there. Then, within three days Central Michigan asked if I wanted to come up here for a tour and I was the happiest guy in the world – I thought ‘man these guys are giving me an opportunity that I have always dreamt of.’ So, I talked to my parents, and they were pretty confused at first, but I told them what happened and they were excited, so they next day we got in the car and drove eight hours to tour the school. After the tour, I just asked them for a walk-on spot as well, like if I would be able to try out, and they ended up offering me a scholarship. I know it is a long story, but I feel like there are a lot of different aspects on how it all unfolded. I didn’t have your traditional recruiting process through high school by any means. I didn’t take the normal route like most kids take. I gotta take that kid from Stevens-Point out to dinner for giving the tip about the letter to contact!”
Who is the best DL you have ever gone up against?
- Luke – “I would probably say one of the DE from LSU, number 8 – he was pretty good. He had a good get-off and pass rushing moves. It would either be him or one of our DE here at CMU – Troy Harrison. He is definitely a big technician guy that me and Bernhard practice with outside of practice time to get extra reps in and everything. He is definitely a difficult defensive end to block. He doesn’t play like your traditional defensive end; he is kind of lower to the ground and takes a little bit more adjusting to. Either of those guys are two of the more difficult players I’ve gone against. Definitely whether it is the pass game or run game, I mean I have seen Troy take some OT heads off during their run game.”
- Bernhard – “I would agree with Luke, I think it is Troy Harrison, #13 here. He just has the right mindset – he started as a walk on here and you can tell every day with his work ethic, whether it is in practice or during the extra workouts we’ve done with him, he always brings 100% energy and can make it really difficult on tackles. Going up against him every day makes the games easier.”
Is there an NFL OL player that you try to model your game after?
- Luke – “I have always been a big Joe Thomas fan growing up so that is kind of who I like to really watch and study. I really like his hand usage and mentality – how he goes about playing the game. I would say it is between him and Joe Staley. He played here and has that mentality, I mean we play at a Group of 5 school so a lot of Power 5 schools might look down upon us as not great competition and I feel like that is obviously not true at all. I like to watch their footwork in the pass game as well as the run game and their different techniques. I feel like I can take multiple aspects of their game and try to apply it to my game, whether that be in the run game or the pass.”
- Bernhard – “I would say I love watching the OG tackles in the game right now like Tyron Smith or Andrew Wentworth. I am trying to be true to myself, so I try to pick out certain attributes from each player. If it is little things like outside zone or run, I try to copy Joe Staley in those regards, whereas in the pass, I like Garrett Bolles – how he uses his hands and stays balanced in the pass pro. I try to find different aspects of the players that make them special and try to learn from every single one of them.”
Joe Staley just got inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame and I know he just came up to CMU when they retired his jersey. Were you able to be around him? What was it like being around such a special player like him?
- Luke – “We toured the whole facility with him. Me, Bernhard and the starting center here all sat down for lunch with him and kind of picked his brain a little bit about what he went through here at Central and what his journey was like and how he became as successful as he was. We also talked technique with him – Bernhard got down and lined up in the stance and everything and kind of tested him there haha. He is definitely a great guy, and we will actually both be fortunate enough to train with him during the pre-draft process. He definitely played with a chip on his shoulder – he didn’t take the normal route that a lot of guys take. That was kind of nice to hear because me and Bernhard both had different paths to get here.”
- Bernhard – “We got to have a lunch with him the day before the game. We got to talk some technique with him. What stuck out to me the most about him was just the love of the game he has. It was an amazing experience to talk ball with him. You can tell how much he enjoys it and it is going to be amazing to work with him."
So Cental Michigan has two NFL players in the same position group, can you talk about you leadership styles?
- Bernhard - "I think we are similar with leading by example by organizing extra workouts and pulling other guys to come with us. We encourage everyone to show up and do the extra work and teach the things that we have learned over the years, especially to the incoming freshman. I think it is mainly our work ethic that we try to pass along to the younger guys."
- Luke - "We are definitely lead-by-example guys. If someone steps out of line we are going to be more verbal and say something like 'hey, that is not how we go about our business here.' We want everyone to do the things that are going to help them be the best in the long run and to be successful. Like Bernhard said, we organize workouts and make sure other guys want to join in with us. Me and Bernhard definitely pride ourselves in doing the extra work out here whether it be in the film room, workouts, or position work. I wouldn't say we are gifted with extra God-given talent that all just comes naturally, we are two guys that have to put in the extra work outside of the guys that have that natural ability. I think that really has gotten some younger guys in the room to realize that if you put in the extra work then they can be successful as well and get these new opportunities in life that a lot of people only dream of."
If you could bring one teammate to the NFL with you, who would it be?
- Luke - "Oh Boy! You already know the answer, he is sitting in the room with me! Bernhard for sure - 10 times out of 10. Sometimes Berhard will come over and have dinner when my parents are in town and everything - it is always a fun time."
- Bernard - "I don't know, there are a bunch of guys - just kidding haha! I would definitely pick Luke because he is a great guy on and off the field and I wouldn't want to have anyone else with me on the team."
You’re stuck on a deserted island with three teammates – who are they?
- Luke - "One of them would be Kalil Pimpleton for his smarts and athleticism. We aren't the fastest guys like he is, but he could hunt for us. I'd say Bernhard because we need at least two stronger and taller guys out there in case we need to pick fruit or something. I'd say Robi Stuart for his brains. He, KP and Bern all bring humor to the party as well so that would definitely be my group of three."
- Bernard - "I would definitely say Luke and then KP because they are both great team players - I think we would put up a good run out there. I would love to have Robi out there, too, because he is a smart guy. He plays defensive tackle, though, and I don't know how many big guys I want to have to feed on that island!"
- Luke - "I hate to say it, but at the end of the day if it came down to it, someone may have to go and KP would be too fast so I think it might have to be Robi haha."