Sunday, January 24, 2016

Devin Fuller Q&A

Photo courtesy of Jeff Lewis
Photo courtesy of Jeff Lewis
Pro Player Insiders we caught up with wide receiver Devin Fuller at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl from nearby UCLA. Fuller’s mom is one of the most prominent backup singers in the music industry; she’s toured with Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston and other legends. Read on to find out a little more about Devin Fuller.

What were your expectations coming into this week?

I just wanted to showcase my talent. I think that’s everyone is out here for. And to improve on my skills.

What skills are you looking to improve on, specifically?

Just route running. Learning from the NFL coaches on just separating. The NFL trait you need to have [at wide receiver] is creating separation.

You were catching punts in practice. Is that something you’re looking forward to doing on the next level, too?

Oh yes sir. Because the people here tell us we might not be first or second round draft picks — although we might be at the end of the day. Coming into a camp, that’s what I’m going to do to make a team and hopefully stay there.

It takes a lot of heart to be a punt returner, right?

Yes. You have to have that to play football anyway.

What type of conversations have you had with your position coach?

Just ways of getting better, and he’s been helping me with that.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned while attending UCLA?

Nothing comes easy. I started as a quarterback and moved to receiver. I had to work my way up the depth chart. In high school, I was with a lot of great athletes but feel like I was one of the best. But going to UCLA, there are a bunch of great athletes. That’s one of the key things besides getting a great education. The number one thing for me was to get a great education while playing at a great football school.

Compare California to New Jersey life.

It’s a lot different. There aren’t that many seasons out here. I kind of miss the seasons a little bit but I can get used to 75 degrees every day.

What has been the best part of college life for you?

Just meeting new people. I’ve met some of my best friends out here. And playing with some of the best guys in college.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?

My mom and dad because they have always backed me 100%. They have faith in me in anything I do. They’ve shown me the right way to do things.

Have you ever met Bruce Springsteen?

Yes, I’ve met him before backstage about three or four years ago. He’s a great guy. A high energy guy. For how old he is, you’d never expect him to perform like he does at his concerts.

What event has had the most impact on you so far?

Me committing to UCLA. Life changed. I was going to become a Bruin, further my education and start a new chapter.

What do you dislike the most out of society right now?

A lot of hate. Hating on the next man. You just have to love one another. I feel like that’s one thing that we’re missing. Everybody has to love each other for us to all succeed. The world is not made for us to hate on each other because we’re all going to need one another some day.

What is your biggest goal outside of football?

To help the next man. To be in broadcasting after football is done, with my UCLA degree.But I just want to help people in need. I feel like that’s the biggest thing.

What lasting impression do you want to leave on this world?

I was here for a purpose and to help other people become better for themselves, while making me a better person for myself.

If there was just one reason a team decide to draft you, just one, what would it be?

The relentlessness, commitment, and the willingness to get better every day. I’m a pretty good receiver right now but I feel the sky is the limit for me. I haven’t even reached my ceiling yet. I would say that to them and let them know there really isn’t a ceiling for me.

Hampton University Lineman Torian White Q&A

Photo courtesy of NFLPA via Kevin Koski
Pro Player Insiders caught up with offensive lineman Torian White of Hampton University at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. White first attended UCLA, starting every game before suffering an injury in his sophomore season and then transferring. Read on to find out more about White.

What are some of your goals in life outside of football?

Outside of football? That’s tough. I just want to be remembered as a good person. I think the better person I am, then the better respect that I can get all around.

What were your expectations of the NFLPA Bowl entering this week?

I expected it was going to be tough man. I knew we had a back to back schedule, a lot of things going on here. I knew the competition was going to be at a high level and I was going to have to bring it.

Have your expectations been met?

Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ve been doing some good work out here. I’ve been going against a lot of good guys. I’ve enjoyed my experience here thus far.

Why did you choose to play in NFLPA bowl?

This was a game I was invited to that I was real excited for once I received the invitation. I think I remember signing up online, thinking it would be my time to shine.

What are some of the conversations you have had with Jackie Slater (position coach) been like? What have you learned from him?

Oh man! Where do I start? The guy has taught me so much from day one. Before getting here, in the meetings, way before we even stepped on the field. He is full of information. I’ve tried to just absorb it, day by day, all of the things he’s been telling us over and over again. I’m trying to let everything sync in. He’s been teaching us everything from pass blocking to run blocking, foot movement to hand placement, having spatial awareness against a defender — all types of stuff.

What are some life lessons you learned from college?

I’ve learned a lot from college. Number one is being careful of who you stay around and pick your friends wisely. Another one is to be self aware; always know your surroundings. College is a big experience for a lot of people. It was a big experience for me coming in. There are a lot of things going on. I just needed a year to myself to experience it as a freshman and play everything by ear to be aware of what was going on.

What has been your favorite part?

My favorite part of college has been playing football. Absolutely football. There is no feeling like running out of that tunnel for the first time. But I get that same feeling every time. It’s go time. Every time I’m on that field, the lights are on and the show is starting.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?

I would say my parents have been the biggest influence on my life. I owe everything to God. And right under God, it’s my parents. No one has ever supported me like my family has. They’ve taken care of me. I’ve followed in their footsteps. Although I’ve been a little stubborn at times but I think at the end of it all, they have done a great job.

What event has had the most impact on your life so far?

That’s tough to choose from. I can’t say that there has really been one event that seperates  from the rest to change my life from all the others. It’s mostly a collection of everything I’ve been through that makes me who I am. I would say just being born in Inglewood. My parents have taken me out of a bad environment, from being held to a stereotype and given me the ability to shine and become the person who I am today. I feel like that small step has impacted my life and played out for me the way God has intended it.

What do you dislike the most out of society?

I guess the biggest disappointment from society would have to be the stigma that people can’t learn something. I feel that everybody can learn anything. When people hold themselves to kind of a barrier and think they can only learn so much or only be this type of a person, they hold themselves back from really growing. I think that hurts us. That influence comes from a lot of things, mainly the media.

What’s the lasting impression you want to leave on this world?

Like I said before, I just want to be remembered as a good person. I want to be remembered as a guy who people can trust, a guy people can go to for help, and a guy that taught something… in the end.

If there was just one reason a team decide to draft you, just one, what would it be?

Because I’m physical. They’d look at me as a physical guy and say “We want him.”

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stanford RB Remound Wright Q&A

Photo courtesy of NFLPA via Kevin Koski
Photo courtesy of NFLPA via Kevin Koski
After a National team practice at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Pro Player Insiders caught up with the 5-foot-9 running back, Remound Wright, from Stanford. Wright played in a crowded backfield at “The Farm” that included Heisman trophy finalist Christian McCaffery but yet still led the team with 13 rushing touchdowns. Read on to find out more about Remound Wright.

What were your expectations coming into this week of practice?

I knew there would be scouts around. It would be an opportunity to put my skill-set on showcase. But it’s even exceeded my expectations. I’m getting coached by Priest Holmes and Ray Rice — two running backs who I’ve looked up to since they’ve been playing in the league. I’ve actually fashioned my game after Ray Rice. So it’s an honor to be coached by him.

Your size is comparable to his. What have you learned from Rice?

So far we’ve been focusing on techniques. It’s hard to coach a running back once we’ve gotten the ball because it’s mostly about instincts. We’ve concentrated on behind the line of scrimmage type of stuff like keeping my pad level low and making sure that my footwork is right. He’s been really helpful with that.

Skills that you’re working on to improve for the next level?

I’m really working on my long distance speed. That’s one area that I can improve a lot. But things like quickness, acceleration, decisiveness, hitting the hole, and vision. I’m trying to work on everything.

What are some of life’s lessons that you’ve learned while in college?

I’ve definitely learned that there is something to be learned from everyone, everyone you encounter. Around Stanford, there’s a lot of smart people who are doing cool things. If you stop to ask people about life, especially those who are older than you and may have more life experience than you, there’s not one person who couldn’t give me some wisdom or something I can learn from.

What has been your favorite part of college experience?

My favorite part of the college experience is that I’m just very glad I chose to go to Stanford University because they create well-rounded individuals. They’re just as dedicated to athletics as they are to academics. You are surrounded by some of the smartest, most intelligent people in the world. When you surround yourself with good people, you’re going to become like those people. That’s definitely what Stanford has allowed me to do.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?

My father, without a doubt. My father is the greatest man that I know. I’d love to be just like him in so many ways. He’s helped me stay on the right path my whole life. He taught me discipline and hard work. My father is a great man.

Has there been any event that occurred that has had a huge impact on you?

I would say it’s more than just one event. My dad pushed me to play all sports. I never wanted to play them when I was little. Once I found some success in them, I started to really enjoy playing them. If it wasn’t for having a father in my life and him pushing me — he knew what was best for me even if I didn’t know what was good for me — I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What do you dislike the most out of society?

In American society specifically, it really bothers me how African American lives are not valued. Especially how black males are not valued, there’s no justice for us out here. You know of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, you know Freddie Gray. All those men way heavily on my heart.

What goals do you have outside of football?

One day, I hope to own my own business. I really enjoy writing, I have a passion for it. Over the past couple of years, I’ve really tried to develop that skill. I want to write books, something that will influence the world in a positive way.

If there was just one reason a team decides to draft you, just one, what would it be?

The top reason is that I’m a good person. Which means that I will be a good fit in the locker room. There will be no worries about me off the field. I’m going to work hard every day and be the best player I can be and reach my potential as a football player.

Lasting impression on this world?

That’s a heavy question. I’ve never been asked that before. I have to take time to think about that because it’s important.

You can die at any moment. What would you want people to say about you if that so happens?

That Remound Wright had a positive impact on the world. He was an intelligent man who made the world a better place. If I’m not the one to change the world, I hope that I’m able to spark the mind that is able to change the world.

Azusa Pacific Lineman Paul Flores Q&A

Photo courtesy of the NFLPA via Kevin Koskie
Photo courtesy of the NFLPA via Kevin Koskie
The 2016 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl takes place today at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California and will air live on ESPN2. The MVP of last year’s game, Terrell Watson, came from Division II Azusa Pacific and found his way onto an NFL roster.  Earlier this week after a National team practice, Pro Player Insiders caught up with offensive lineman, Paul Flores, from the same school to to gauge his chances on accomplishing the same feat.

What were some of your expectations coming into this week?

I think I was just really expecting to compete against a higher level of athletes that I have played against during my college career and being expected to compete and perform on that level now.

You blocked for the running back who won MVP of this game last year at Azusa. How do you feel about the level of competition after a few practices?

I think it’s a good opportunity for people to see me go up against that talent you expect to see at the next level and for me to go out there and battle and compete and see what I can do against guys like that.

Why did you decide to play in this game?

I think it’s a good opportunity for me to be seen, by scouts, playing against elite-level competition as opposed to D-II guys. I think that’s what scouts wanted to see from me.

How do you think you’ve done?

I think I’ve been battling. I’m trying to just get better, making some adjustments, whether it’s just positioning or speed. I feel like I’m getting used to it and improving everyday

What skills are you working on specifically to be better at the next level?

I think right now, playing guard, I’ve been more solid and more sure footed, being good with my hands and able to deal with power and being a power monger, myself. Getting used to playing heavy, being big and trying to maul people.

Jackie Slater is your position coach here, but he was also your coach for the past few seasons. What have you learned from him?

He’s written the text book on offensive linemen. It’s been a joy being coached under him for these past five years. Being on his team here is a blessing to me because I already know some of his techniques. His ideals are very simplistic. He has you pay attention to the details that will have you succeed. Just mastering the finer points of blocking.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?

I’d have to say Jackie Slater. He’s the one who inspired me to move to the offensive line (from tight end). He took me under his wing, mentored me into becoming the player I am.

Do you miss catching touchdowns?

(laughs) No, I caught my one and I’m good. Not touchdowns. I got one and that was it.

What are some of life’s lessons you have learned from college?

I think all of the position changes that I’ve gone through have taught me to be flexible and adaptable. Whatever position you’re put into, you should give it your full 100% and see what happens. That’s what I’ve done.

Outside of football.

Being consistent as a person. You’re going to go through ups and downs, whether as a football player or a regular person. Just try to consistently give that good effort to try to win each day and get better.

What has been your favorite part of college?

I think probably all of the friendships and relationships you make from being on a team. Especially playing offensive lineman, it’s such a close brotherhood. Those are guys I’m going to be friends with for the rest of my life.

Other than playing football, what are some of your goals?

I already have my Bachelor’s degree and I’m working on my Master’s right now. I think something I’d like to do is work in athletic administration at the collegiate level or work in a front office position for a professional team.

What do you dislike the most out of society?

I think people getting too caught up, whether in social media or just on their phones, getting caught up in being other places than being present where they are at right now. I think what people lose a lot is being in the present moment.

What’s one lasting impression you want to leave on this world?

The impression I want to leave throughout my life is displaying perseverance, flexibility, being able to work hard no matter what opposition you face, hurdles come into your life, being able to push through and just keep fighting.

If there was just one reason a team decides to draft you, just one, what would it be?

I’m going to work my butt off.

Kicker Named MVP of 2016 NFLPA Bowl

Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett was named MVP of the 2016 NFLPA Bowl game.
Mizzou kicker Andrew Baggett holds MVP Trophy
CARSON, Calif. -- Kickers are people too! In this case, National kicker Andrew Baggett was the most important person on the field as he scored all of his team’s points in an 18-17 victory over American in the NFLPA Bowl game Saturday night in Carson, California.

The kicker from Missouri connected six of seven field goals in the game, including the game winner with 11:02 remaining in the game. Baggett was successful on game-long 50 yarder, which likely got the attention of NFL scouts.
“I like from the very get-go the coaches said, ‘This is an audition,’” said Bagget who was named the NFLPA Bowl MVP. “We’re out here getting ready to go like we’re preparing for an NFL camp… They treated us like they treat any NFL kicker or special teams unit.”

The American team was in complete control throughout the early part of the game. They scored on three of their first four drives. Jacobi Greene, from Richmond University, powered his way in for a 3-yard touchdown run. The touchdown punctuated a drive that started on the 14 yard line due to TCU’s Travone Boykin’s intercepted pass.

Boykin struggled mightily while trying to find a passing rhythm and didn’t see any action after the first two drives.  This only adds doubt to NFL personnel who were questioning if he can play quarterback on the next level.

Northwestern State’s Stephen Rivers, younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, entered the game and commanded a 77-yard scoring drive. Rivers put his strong arm on display by completing a 23 yard pass to Washington’s Jaydon Mickens. The drive was culminated with soft 12 yard touchdown pass to the left corner of the end zone to Mickens, who had three receptions for 49 yards on that drive.  At this point in the game American held a 17-6 lead.

The National defense took over and shut down the American side for rest of game. The defensive linemen wrecked havoc by forcing fumbles and laying continuous hits on the quarterback.

National running backs, coached by Ray Rice and Priest Holmes, also made a good showing of themselves in the game as they accumulated 151 yards on the ground.

“Ball control is the key to the game,” said Rice on the field after the game. “I had to get them right!”

However, the rushing attack only did so much for team National as their drives continued to bog down as they approached the end zone. Failing third-down conversion attempts across the American 30 yard line and Baggett field goal attempts were akin to rinse and repeat instructions to winning for the Mike Martz coached team. This paved the way for an MVP performance for the team’s kicker.

“Games like this don’t usually happen,” said Baggett. “It’s cool to get a shot at field goals like that. Hopefully some people thought I did enough.”

Baggett connected on field goal tries of 42, 50, 42, 39, 24, and 23 yards. He only missed from 54 yards out early in the 3rd quarter.

Ammon Olsen of Southern Utah was the leading passer for team National with 75 yards.

Travis Greene of Bowling Green made a few impressive runs and led the game with 53 yards rushing. Stanford’s Remound Wright chipped in with 38 yards on just seven carries.

Rivers finished with 96 yards passing for Mike Holmgren’s American team.

Jordan Williams of Ball State was the game’s leading receiver with 54 yards on 5 catches for American.

This is the second consecutive win for Mike Martz, whose National team won 17-0 in 2015.