In an attempt to blatantly rip off our own Zach Hicks’ prospect interview articles I’ll tell you that last off season Zach interviewed more than 40 prospects including future Colts; Khari Willis and Marvell Tell III. I, on the other hand, interviewed zero prospects in 2019. Zach’s schedule was a little booked up so you’re stuck with me.
In what was my first prospect interview since the Senior Bowl, I talked to East Tennessee State defensive end, Nasir Player. We talked about fatherhood and football and after talking to him a while it’s going to be easy to root for him in 2020 and beyond.
6’4” 261 pounds
45 Tackles, 24 solo, 10 TFL, 4.5 sacks
Nasir Player and Jared Folks come through AGAIN with another ETSU sack! Bucs looking to hold off Chattanooga here early in the fourth quarter #ETSUTough pic.twitter.com/xVIl5AeubM— ETSU Football (@ETSUFootball) September 30, 2018
ETSU's Nasir Player intercepts a pass tipped by teammate Jason Maduafokwa and takes it to the house for a TOUCHDOWN! Bucs lead 10-0, late 1Q pic.twitter.com/hpe5tPJObe— ETSU Football (@ETSUFootball) November 4, 2017
ETSU's Nasir Player trails behind to make a key third down stop, forcing Wofford to settle for a field goal inside the red zone. pic.twitter.com/tTKQiY3n8m— ETSU Football (@ETSUFootball) October 28, 2017
CS: How did you end up at East Tennessee State?
NP: I actually didn’t start on varsity in high school until my senior year. So I wasn’t getting any college attention until half way through my senior season. So that’s when I got my first offer. I only ended up getting six offers, and they were Stetson University, East Tennessee State, South Carolina State, Benedict College, Wingate and Presbyterian. So out of those schools Presbyterian wanted me to play tight end, I didn’t want to play offense. South Carolina State and East Tennessee were my only D1 offers and at the time South Carolina State was losing money and they were talking about they weren’t going to have their accreditation anymore so I was like “I don’t want to be a part of that” so I went to East Tennessee State.
CS: I did a little bit of research and I read that you have a daughter. My daughter is three years old, I know becoming a father changed everything in my life, how has it changed your approach to the game of football?
NP: At first I just played the game of football because it was fun, I mean it’s still fun, but now I see it as an avenue to take care of her better. To have the means to take care of her the way she needs to be taken care of. So it’s given me more motivation to work even harder than I was before.
CS: How crazy is it being a dad?
NP: This is another crazy story. So my daughter, she was born three months premature, so she had to stay in the hospital for 120 days after she was born. So I didn’t even get to see her that much after she was born, I only got to see her like once a month, so that was hard by itself but then when she finally got released I was able to see her a little more. Right now, since I’m not anywhere training, I’m just at home, I get to see her everyday. That’s actually cool, it makes it a little easier, I like being able to see her every day and spend time with her and do stuff with her. It’s hard being away.
CS: According to the schools website it said you played in 43 games, I’d bet you weren’t healthy for all 43 games. Is toughness something you pride yourself on, being able to push through things other guys might not?
NP: I had something (an injury) pretty much every year, except my sophomore year. My freshman year I tore my MCL and I only missed two games. I came back two weeks later and I was able to play again. My junior year I tore a ligament in my thumb and I really couldn’t grab anything with my right hand. I played with that the whole season and I had surgery after the season. And this past year, this is the worst injury wise, I hurt both of my shoulders. I sprained my AC joint in my left shoulder the very first game of the season and that ended up turning in to a torn rotator cuff. Then in my right shoulder because I could only use one arm, I ended up tearing my labrum. So I was basically playing the whole year with no shoulders. All the scouts told me that I didn’t look the same as I did all the other years and I’m like “I’m hurt” but I didn’t want to use that as an excuse but it definitely hurt my production.
CS: I know you don’t want to use it as an excuse but having two bad shoulders might explain a dip in production.
NP: Yeah. I still had an all conference year but it wasn’t as good as I wanted to do. I still had 10 TFL’s, 5 sacks, that’s a decent season but that’s not what I wanted to do.
CS: From the time you arrived on campus to now, what do you think you’ve improved the most during that time?
NP: Overall I just got stronger and faster. I’m more athletic. When I first got to campus I was 225 pounds and now I’m 270 and I’m way faster than I was when I got there. So my overall strength, speed and athleticism got better my whole time being there.
CS: I saw in your highlights it looked like you played mostly with your hand in the dirt. If a team asked you to do it, do you think you could stand up on the edge?
NP: I feel like I could play where ever they ask me to play as long as they show me what to do. I feel like I’m a big body and I’m athletic for my size so I feel like I can run well, I can move, I’ve got good agility, I feel I could play where ever they tell me to. So I could play stand up, I could play with my hand down, I could move to three-technique if they want me to, that’s how I feel.
CS: What would you say is your go to move when rushing the passer?
NP: Usually I have a good get-off so I try to beat them with a speed rush, but if that doesn’t work, try a long arm and turn the corner or I’ll do like an inside move. My inside moves are really good but I didn’t get to use them that much because they didn’t want me to go inside in the scheme that we played but I feel like I’ve got a good inside move, I have a quick step so I’m just good at getting across o-linemen when they’re not ready for it.
CS: Being able to hit that inside move is huge especially if you can catch a guy who likes to overset.
NP: Yeah, that’s what always happened to me. They knew I was a speed rusher so people always tried to overset. I know it was the FCS but I could beat most of the tackles just running around them. Honestly, I didn’t really have to do much of anything as long as I got a good get-off the ball I could get around the corner.
CS: Last question, what is my team getting if they draft Nasir Player?
NP: Their gonna get somebody that comes to work every day and tries his best to do everything that needs to be done. I’m just, I’m a hard worker. I don’t complain, I don’t cause any distractions. Just do what needs to be done to get the job done, I just do my job. There’s a whole bunch of games I played 100-plus snaps, I was playing every single snap on defense, I didn’t rotate out. I was also playing special teams like punt, punt return, field goal, field goal block, everything. So there were games I played over 100 snaps and I didn’t complain about it, I just came to work.
Ultimately he seemed like a smart, genuine guy who loves his family and means what he says. I don’t know that he’ll be drafted next week but I’ll be watching on day three hoping to see his name flash across the screen. Regardless of his draft status, I hope he catches on somewhere and earns a spot so that he can take care of his daughter the way she needs to be taken care of. I’ll be rooting for Nasir Player.