A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last off-season, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these players’ accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is tight end Stephen Sullivan from LSU. Sullivan is a talented player with excellent athleticism who stood out at the Senior Bowl this past year. We had an excellent talk about the obstacles he had to overcome in college and growing up, if he thinks LSU is the greatest college team of all time, and why he will fit in your NFL locker room.
6’5” 242 pounds
12 catches for 130 yards
Fit with the Colts:
While his stat line may not necessarily show it, Sullivan projects well to the next level. As a former wide receiver, he has the athleticism and hands to be a solid pass catching target at the next level. He still needs to grow a bit into his role as a tight end but that should fit the Colts well with both Doyle and Alie-Cox ahead of him on the depth chart. The Colts could be one of the few teams with the time and ability to develop Sullivan into a play-making tight end in the NFL.
Mid-Late Day 3
LSU WR/TE Stephen Sullivan is a tough NFL projection but at his best, flashes traits similar to Darren Waller, who made the same conversion w/ limited college production. https://t.co/6zYIGjCc9D pic.twitter.com/BJFhMF1IlE— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) January 12, 2020
Stephen Sullivan's breakfast Saturday morning?— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) October 21, 2019
LSU TE Stephen Sullivan has flown under the radar a bit, but I believe he's having a good week. Sullivan shows long and quick strides down the field, smoothness in his routes and strength at the catch point. He was also really physical as a blocker, stymieing each defender. pic.twitter.com/7vv9fkZocZ— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) January 23, 2020
ZH: First off, congratulations on the National Championship. How did it feel to go out on top in your final collegiate season?
SS: It felt pretty good man. Just winning a National Championship and having that title under my belt just feels great man. It put a lot of players coming out in a good spot and man it just feels real good.
ZH: The LSU team was historically great this entire year and some people have called them the greatest college team of all time. I know you are a bit biased but do you think this LSU team was the best college team of all time?
SS: Yeah I think so man. I think the numbers and the stats that we put up, I haven’t seen anyone do it since I started watching football. I don’t think anybody is ever gonna do it like that again so I’d think so. Most definitely think we are (the best college team of all time).
ZH: Getting to your career now, you didn’t get as much playing time or really have the most productive college career but you were still down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl this year. How was that entire experience for you?
SS: It was good. Like you said it was just all an experience. You can’t stay in college forever so going in my Freshman year man, it was tough for me. I thought I was gonna go in there and start playing and I was ready to transfer my Freshman year. I had to realize though who was in front of me and other things. I graduated high school pretty early and I went to college early so I was fresh out of high school and I had to get adapted to things pretty quickly and going through college, I learned things and saw things and had that experience man.
I took advantage of every snap that I had and I appreciate all the coaches that gave me those snaps. I appreciate the coordinators, I appreciate Coach O, and Les Miles. Just having that opportunity to go into the Senior Bowl and actually show what I can do at the tight end position, because I played receiver my first three years, and I was pretty confident at that spot. I knew my speed and knew my ability to play receiver would help me there and I knew I had some things to work on and improve on down there. That whole experience though was pretty good for me.
ZH: I want to touch on a few things you mentioned there. First off, most guys who go to big schools and don’t get playing time early on would look to transfer early on but you didn’t. You stuck it out with LSU. Why did you stay there all four years even when you weren’t getting the playing time you wanted?
SS: I feel like when it comes to things like that man, it all comes down to the people that you have around you. The people who are going to catch you when you fall and that is the people that I leaned on. Those people and the coaches at LSU man. They would break it down for you and say like “hey man you are impressing” and “you have to stick it out” and “you have to wait your turn” and those things made me stick it out. It’s just the grind man. I don’t want anything handed to me. I want to compete and work hard and I don’t want to run away from any hurdle. I want to jump over that hurdle or go under it or around it. Whatever I have to do to get across it.
That mindset and the family support that I had around me helped me stick it out. It could have ended up bad or it could have ended up good and I thank God that it ended up good for me and I’m just taking it step by step now.
ZH: You changed positions back and forth from WR to TE at LSU a few times. What was that transition like?
SS: It was new man. It was fresh and I really didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. Coach Joe Brady came in with the new offense and he was showing me some highlights from when he was at Penn State and he’d show me the tight end and the dude was just EATING MAN! He was catching all type of balls and going up for touchdowns and I was like okay coach, I’m with it now.
The transition was tough at first because I didn’t like putting my hand in the ground. I didn’t like blocking defensive ends or linebackers. I thought I wasn’t big enough or strong enough. Once I bought into it though, I was all for it. I bought in during Spring and I felt pretty good. I caught a few passes in Spring game and like I said I was bought in. I gained some weight and I was maybe 240 going into camp and I felt good getting my weight up a bit so it wasn’t bad for me. It was okay for me. I guess it was okay for me. I was just getting my feet wet.
When the season came around, I was ready to go. I was a receiver all three years before this and I’m a receiver at heart so once they told me to move back to receiver, there was no hesitation. I’m glad I got my feet wet at tight end because once I got to the Senior Bowl, I played there and it all worked out for me you know.
ZH: What is the biggest thing that you have to show NFL scouts this off-season with your conversion to tight end?
SS: Going to the Senior Bowl, I heard a lot about how I need to block. I think I did well with that down there and that was the only thing they really wanted to see improvement in. I played receiver so I kind of knew I could move a bit and that I was athletic at my size. I guess though just being that tough guy and get my hand in the dirt and do the dirty work to answer your question. That is what I have to show this off-season, that I’m that guy.
ZH: What was the biggest obstacle you have had to face in getting to the point you are now?
SS: Oh man I don’t even know where to start. Just like growing up man. Like I was kind of back and forth from Texas to Louisiana... My dad was in and out of jail a lot... My brothers and I lived underneath a bridge for a few days... My brother is facing maybe ten years now in jail in Texas... My dad did cocaine in front of me and my brothers when I was little... I’ve seen my dad beat my mom before... I’ve seen my oldest brother and my dad get in a fight... I’ve seen it all man growing up like I have. I’ve seen drug dealers and... I’ve just seen it all man.
Being the first person from my family to graduate high school and college continues to be something that nobody in my family has ever done. I want to be able to set that example for my kids. I want them to graduate high school. I want to help them be able to graduate from college. I don’t want them to go through the life I went through and I want a better life for them and for my mom.
Just waking up every single day and thinking of my mom kind of motivates me every single day. She’s the type of person who will get up every day and give everything that she’s got to do what she can but there is only so much she could do so working to make her proud and give back to her motivates me every single day.
ZH: What is my team getting if they spend a draft pick on Stephen Sullivan?
SS: You will be getting a tough guy, an accountable guy, and a trustworthy guy. A guy who will compete and be completely okay with being at any position. I could be your water boy or on the sideline taking notes if that is what you want me to do. You are getting a guy all about winning and that is all about the team. The team goal is one goal and I’m a team guy through and through. No trouble off the field or issues and I can be whatever your team needs from me.