Fri, Apr 17, 2015
Q: Andrew, good to talk to you again. I think it’s fair to say you were a fan-favorite of sorts down here in Mobile for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. You even had a little fan club over there while you were signing autographs after practice.
A: Yeah, that was fun. It was good to get to know the community down there. I think that’s what makes the whole experience worth it.
Q: One thing about scouting is to find out how the player treats people whether that’s on your college campus, in your facilities or even to strangers during Senior Bowl week. I think you aced that test and of course we met your family and I think that says a lot about who you are, is that accurate.
A: Yeah, definitely. My family is the biggest influence in my life. I think as far as relating to people, it goes beyond the scouting aspect of it. I just feel like people deserve that respect and attention I think.
Q: You’ve been working out in Nashville at the D1 facility down there, how nice is to stay in the town where you went to college?
A: Yeah it’s been great. So I was still taking classes during that time. I was just taking one or two classes and training at the same time. So it was really great to just go train in the morning for 7 or 8 hours and then head to class that afternoon. It was great because there wasn’t that big of a change but I was able to focus on football sufficiently too.
Q: How did your pro day go?
A: It was good. It was a really good experience. It was fun to see the scouts out there. It was a cap off to 3 months of training. I think that the hard work really paid off during that period and I got some really good feedback from it.
Q: Word on the street while I was in Nashville for the spring game was that you were doing a workout for the Patriots. Can you confirm or deny that?
A: Yeah, the Patriots came through town and that was a really good experience. I still have the Rams actually and I’ve been doing these local days with the Titans and Colts. I have a few more workouts lined up so it’s been a really good experience.
Q: Let’s go back to how your opportunity at the Reese’s Senior Bowl really started. I think it had a lot to do with what you did at Vanderbilt. But you’re not at Vanderbilt if not for one tragic moment in another person’s life. Can you take us back to that time in your life?
A: Yeah so I wasn’t a highly recruited high school prospect. I think Rivals had me as a 2-star prospect if they even had me on the website at all. So I was looking to play college football at Wheaton College with my brother. That’s a D-III school up in Chicago and I also had some offers to Ivy leagues and what not. But I had heard about Vanderbilt so I went down and did a summer camp my junior year and got to know the linebackers coach Warren Belin pretty well down there so we stayed in light contact. But come signing day my senior year, I didn’t have any offers. I ended up not making a decision that day. Two weeks later, I see on the news that Vanderbilt’s top prospect, a guy by the name of Rajaan Bennett – he was maybe one of Vanderbilt’s greatest prospects ever, he was out of Atlanta, GA – was murdered protecting his family. So a couple weeks after that I get a call from coach Bobby Johnson and he said they had a scholarship opening because of that incident and they’d like to extend it to me. It was really an interesting process of getting the emotions of ‘man I’m so happy to be able to have this opportunity to go to Vanderbilt but under such tragic circumstances” so it’s been a really cool process the past five years of trying to honor Rajaan just because he was such a man of character, such a hard worker and great football player so I’ve tried to emulate that in how I approached my five years at Vanderbilt.
Q: You mention Bobby Johnson and he just got named to the College Football Playoff committee and a lot of people liked it because of how much of a man of integrity he is, can you attest to that?
A: Yeah definitely. He was only my coach for about three days but getting to know him a little bit through the recruiting process, I don’t think you could have a better guy on the selection committee, I don’t think you could have a better guy as a head coach of a football program. I’m definitely happy to see that he’s moved on to that committee.
Q: You tweeted in honor of Rajaan Bennett the morning of the Reese’s Senior Bowl and I thought that was a nice touch. Social media is a big thing in today’s world and you’ve used it to your advantage by promoting your highlights and such.
A: Yeah, I’ve been trying to self-promote a little bit. Part of being a long snapper is you don’t get as much attention as probably Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota so I do what I can to get my name out there a little bit.
Q: Well, we’re now really close to the NFL Draft taking place and being a long snapper, you know where you stand in terms of getting drafted so are you going to be tuned into the Draft or wait until your phone rings and the possibility of your name being called to turn it on?
A: I’m definitely not expecting to get drafted so I’m approaching it with that mentality. The whole idea of even getting a chance to play in the NFL is amazing so I’m just glad to have that opportunity. I’ll probably tune into the Draft but I won’t be expecting to get my name called by any means.
Q: The Kansas City Chiefs website wrote an article about specialists to watch in this year’s NFL Draft class and three of them were guys we had here in at the Reese’s Senior Bowl including you and that article said you had the best chance to be drafted.
A: I actually didn’t read through that article but they’re flying me out to Kansas city so I’m excited to go and meet the coaching staff up there and show them my abilities. Hopefully they like it.
Q: Your Dad was a long snapper too right? This is kind of like a family tradition then but what kind of dad raises his son to be a long snapper? He had a pretty good reason for it right?
A: Yeah well it’s funny because he did it at Purdue and he kind of stumbled into the position. He played tight end initially and had a good career up there. But when were little kids, he used to take us out in the front yard and teach us how to long snap. When you’re a 10-year-old kid, it’s not your dream to be the long snapper on the team, you want to be the quarterback or the linebacker. I still have a little bit in me that definitely wants to play linebacker. He kept saying ‘hey long snapping can take you a far way in football so you should get focused on it.’ I guess I started realizing that in high school and certainly in college how important long snapping was and how many opportunities it can provide.
Q: Your Dad said he used to take you to the Combine every single year and now it’s the year that you’re supposed to be in it and it’s the one year you couldn’t go.
A: Joe Cardona got the opportunity and he definitely deserved it. It definitely would’ve been fun to bring that childhood experience of going to the combine full circle and actually competing in the combine but again this whole opportunity of even being considered an NFL prospect is great in itself.
Q: Let’s go back to Senior Bowl week for a second, and another thing about these NFL scouting departments is that they dig up as much as they possibly can about the prospects and their personal lives. Yet, I talked to some teams who didn’t know that well, you date the former Olympian and still a superstar, Shawn Johnson. Did you get questions about her when talking to teams?
A: A couple teams did ask me and made some jokes about it. Certainly, it wasn’t the main topic of discussion.
Q: Well, there aren’t any character concerns between you or her right?
A: Correct. I don’t know maybe we should do a background check on her. It’d be good to know if they find some trash out on her.
Q: Back to the field now, being a specialist, what was the week of practice like when you’re surrounded by that next level of talent.
A: It was a blast, the whole experience. The Senior Bowl crew down there does an amazing job of organizing the whole event. Just to be out on the field and have the whole field surrounded three deep with scouts all around the field was just incredible. You realize it’s such a wonderful platform to show your abilities and get to know some NFL people. There’s a little bit of pressure involved just because you want to show what you can do. But being around all these top NFL prospects – first rounders, second rounders – was a blast. You see their names on the news or on ESPN or whatever but actually getting to know them and find out how good of guys they are was a really fun experience.
Q: Another thing that really stood out about you, Andrew, was that during our formal interview sessions at night, it’s like speed dating but not every player draws interest from a potential match. Most of those guys mingle with each other or stand around. You on the other hand, went and initiated contact with NFL personnel. Who does that?
A: As a long snapper in a room full of NFL general managers and head coaches, you’re not the prettiest girl in the dance. I realized some of these people in my room could help me achieve my dream and they’d be fun to get to know even if they couldn’t. I just took that opportunity to try to meet some good people.
Q: You’ve been working towards your graduation this spring, right?
A: Yeah so I graduated undergrad last May in civil engineering and I’m going to get my MBA in two weeks.
Q: Has it been difficult to shuffle between school and the NFL draft process?
A: Yeah definitely. You want to be focused on this NFL draft process. But at the same time, it is a long spring and winter where you’re focused on it. So it’s good to keep the academic part of your brain engaged so I’ve actually enjoyed taking classes but it definitely is hard to balance the focus there.
Q: Andrew, appreciate your time. We’re so glad you enjoyed our week and your family was awesome. We appreciate the kind words that you and your family gave about the Senior Bowl experience.
A: I hope you guys know how thankful I am for the opportunity and it was great to get to know all of you.