Matt Ioannidis on RSB: 'It's actual football'
Reese’s Senior Bowl’s Patrick Woo: You and two other teammates got to experience this together, what was that like?
Matt Ioannidis: it was great. I come down to Mobile, a town that you don’t know playing with players you don’t now but it’s great to have two of your teammates there, two guys come game time you can depend on.
RSB: All three of you were single-digit jersey number players at Temple, symbolizing some of the toughest players on the team. What did you think of that philosophy at Temple?
Ioannidis: We carry a great deal of price and respect for that tradition that we have at Temple. I felt honored, I know Tyler and Tavon did to wear single digits. That’s just one of the highest honors you can get at our school so we were really very proud.
RSB: You played under Matt Rhule and your D-Line coach Elijah Robinson, who I think is one of the up and coming stars in the coaching profession. What did you take away from Coach Robinson especially because he’s a younger coach.
Ioannidis: Right, he’s a younger coach. He coached under someone great though. He coached under Larry Johnson at Penn State now at Ohio State and he’s one of the greatest d-line coaches in college football. And he’s always instilled work ethic and discipline in me that I’ll always appreciate and I know I can take with me. Then playing for Coach Rhule, the most important lesson I’d say I can take away from him was just the competitive edge. That’s the most competitive man that I’ve ever met.
RSB: You told me you were able to point me out on the sideline when I went up there to your practice, which was leading up to the Notre dame game which was probably the biggest week for you all season and just to see how competitive your practice was out in the rain and the way that Matt Rhule conducted everything I thought it was one of the more organized practices that I had seen.
Ioannidis: Yeah a lot of people, a lot of scouts and coaches that come in will say wow you guys have one of the most physical practices and work ethics out there. I never really knew what that meant but then soon you come to find out not a lot of teams are doing 9-on-7 and inside run in week 11 or 12 of the season so I guess they were right about that.
RSB: Was there anything different about preparing that week because of the Notre Dame game or was it just another week?
Ioannidis: You gotta just try to keep all the weeks the same. At the end of the day, that wasn’t a conference game and frankly didn’t affect our conference championship run so there’s a lot of media and hype and expectations for that week but you just gotta stay level-headed and remember that it’s just another game.
RSB: Tell me again for these listeners how you were able to point me out at your practice. It’s raining, we’re outdoors, I’m wearing a black no-logo raincoat yet you show up here in Mobile and say to me, “Yeah you were at my practice leading up to the Notre Dame game weren’t you?”
Ioannidis: Yeah, so we were doing 1-on-1s in the end zone closer to Diamond Street behind our facility entrance and there’s just this dude standing on the sideline. We don’t usually have guys stand on the far sideline of the field. That’s just uncommon. If you come in, you stand by the facility; you don’t stand by the street. And you were the only guy there, just standing in the rain and I figured if you were out in the rain, not inside or under cover, if you were out in the rain watching, you were watching for something so I knew that you had to be from the Senior Bowl.
RSB: And then of course later you got that invite along with your two teammates. What was the reaction when you got the invite?
Ioannidis: I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe it. I remember I called up my mom and I let her know and she was proud. That was a great moment. Just to see that the work you put in for four years pays off because it was really something else.
RSB: So now let’s go to the actual week itself. Take us back to that week and what you went through and what you got out of it.
Ioannidis: That was a great week. You’re training up until that point for a month and nothing’s really football. You’re just training on working out, 40-yard dash, that whole stuff. You actually get to the Senior Bowl and you start playing football again and that’s what it really comes down to. So that was a great experience being around all the teams, all the greatest talent in the country and it was cool just to go up against them every day and see some of the best.
RSB: You might have heard by now that this is one of the deepest interior defensive line classes in the NFL Draft that there’s been in a long time. So with all due respect to you, a guy like you might get pushed down the board just because of the perceived talent above you but you got to be around some of that top talent down here. Being next to them, how do you see yourself stacking up?
Ioannidis: I see myself stacking up just as highly as they do. I thought that I came to Mobile and I proved that I was a high quality interior d-lineman. I thought I played well, I played hard. I just wanted to show teams and coaches and owners what I was capable of.
RSB: You have the versatility to play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4, which one do you feel more comfortable?
Ioannidis: I hate to set the cliché but I really will do whatever’s asked and what’s told. At Temple we played a 4-3 and I played more interior at a 0, 1 or a 3 but we also played what we called an Okie front so I played a 5 but it really comes down to what kind of scheme I end up in and what’s asked of me.
RSB: The thing that stands out about you when we watch you is a lot of swim moves and a lot of spin moves, why those two?
Ioannidis: You know what, that’s a good question. Spinning will no longer be in my arsenal of moves. That’s one of the ones I gotta cut back on. It really just makes you blind to the quarterback but I don’t know. Some things just happen.
RSB: What about your freshman year when you’re planning to redshirt and they had to shed the redshirt and you produced right away and got better from that point on. What prepared you for that moment?
Ioannidis: Nothing really prepares you for them taking your redshirt off especially when it’s late in the season about four or five games in but you just gotta take it with a grain of salt and start attacking the week a little differently because of the mindset that I’m gonna go in there and play against the best talent in the country and you gotta be prepared for it.
RSB: We’ve seen your weight fluctuate from 290 to 310. Where do you want to play weight-wise?
Ioannidis: I’m gonna be playing probably around 300, 305, 310. I think that’s just the right range for me and what’s going to be asked of me and what’s to be expected.
RSB: What was asked of you at the NFL Combine? That’s a drastically different week. It’s shorter in terms of how long you’re in the city but longer in terms of the days so what was the Combine like for you?
Ioannidis: The Combine was obviously another great experience. You grow up watching that every year on the TV as well and it was great to be out there and you get through the first day and all these coaches start streaming in that you’ve never seen in-person, it was a cool experience. It was great again because you knew some of the guys from the Senior Bowl and so you had friends and familiar faces there.
RSB: Then it came to your pro day on March 16. What was the turnout like there?
Ioannidis: It was a good turnout. We had a lot of teams represented there and I know all of the guys at my school were really pumped and they did well, they did really well.
RSB: Tell me about how you did but also give me some insight into Tyler Matakevich and Tavon Young.
Ioannidis: Yeah so they showed up to pro day ready to go. They ran well. Tavon benched again. And I believe he got 13 reps so that was a big increase for him coming out of the combine. Tyler obviously did really well in all of his movement and all of his position drills. I was really excited for those two guys.
RSB: And what about yourself? What did you go through?
Ioannidis: So at pro day I re-jumped my broad jump. At the Combine I hit 9, which was a little low from what I had been jumping and at pro day I jumped 9-5 so I was happy with the 5-inch increase. And then I did my position drills at pro day as well.
RSB: The biggest thing as you go through these steps is always to have those improvements at every next step. But now that the Triple Crown we call it, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and pro day, when you look back at all that, what was your favorite part?
Ioannidis: I would honestly say the Senior Bowl just because – and I’m not trying to feed you guys some BS here – I thought Senior Bowl was great because it’s football, it’s actually football. You’re going out every day and practicing. You got pads on, you’re hitting. That’s just what it all comes down to and that’s obviously why I think most people should just agree that that’s the best part.
RSB: You got about a month til the draft so what do you do from this point on?
Ioannidis: At this point now I’m focusing on getting myself back into football shape. The past three months everyone’s been getting ready to run fast but now you gotta get back into shape and starting running your half-gassers and you’re 110s because those minicamps are coming and you gotta be ready because you don’t want to be the guy throwing up in the corner.
RSB: Ioannidis, the name, is of Greek heritage, right? Tell me a little bit about that. You don’t see a lot of Greek players in college football. I don’t know how big into your heritage you are, I know you grew up in the U.S. but take me through a little bit of your background.
Ioannidis: Yeah so my father was Greek and I’ve been to Greece once when I was very young but I don’t remember it. I haven’t grown up within the Greek culture I don’t speak any Greek or know any of the history but you’re right it’s rare to see Greek players out there especially with a name like Ioannidis, it kind of just sets off, you can tell when you hear it.
RSB: And people always ask each other how do you pronounce that?
Ioannidis: I’ve heard that name pronounced all kinds of ways.
RSB: You’ve answered a lot of questions these past few months and I’m not gonna ask you what team asked you the weirdest question or whatever because that obviously puts teams in tough spots but when you’re sitting down with these teams, what were some of the hardest questions that you felt to answer?
Ioannidis: I’m not sure any question was particularly hard. The board work I felt has always come easy to me so I don’t think any of them are necessarily tough. I think you just have to be honest and present yourself the way that you see yourself. You gotta be honest and not try to feed them lines of BS. Just be who you are. They’ll sort through the nonsense and they’ll do their research so that would be it, honestly. I don’t think it’s anything tough, just tell the truth.
RSB: No social media for you, so while a bunch of others guys your age are sitting around on their phones, what do you like to do in your free time?
Ioannidis: So over the summer, I went out to South Street in Philadelphia and I bought a guitar. I picked it up, started playing around with it and when the season was going on I couldn’t play as much and in the offseason with spring ball but now that I’ve got a little bit of down time between working out, I’ve been picking that up trying to get back to playing the guitar.
RSB: So what’s the favorite tune?
Ioannidis: I think I gotta learn a tune before I can announce a favorite tune. I’m just trying to focus on learning chords.
RSB: Any big plans for draft weekend yet?
Ioannidis: No, sir. I’m not really digging to throw a big draft party or anything like that. I’m going to spend time with my family and hope for the best.
RSB: Well we certainly hope the best for you as well. We appreciate you taking the time, we’re glad you had a good experience down here in Mobile.
Ioannidis: Thank you. Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.