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Michael Bland

Recently I was able to conduct an in-depth interview with Hampton's standout DT, Michael Bland. Below is a small bio on Michael followed by the interview.

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Name: Michael Bland

School: Hampton University

Position: DT

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 295 lbs.

40 Time: 5.12

Draft Status: 6th-7th round projection, but can elevate his status with good workouts.

My View: Micahel is a very intelligent young man who should find his way on to an NFL roster next fall. He's very committed to becoming a better all-around DT and with his determination, he'll do it. Keep your eyes open for this young man.


INTERVIEW:

Q: What kind of person will an NFL team get by drafting you?

M.B.: I am a hard worker with a "winning attitude" that knows it takes hard work to succeed at anything that you do. I am also a team player that will do whatever my role is to the best of my ability for the team to succeed.

Q: Michael, Do you think you've been overlooked because you play in Division 1-AA? If so, explain.

M.B.: Yes, I think that I do get overlooked sometimes because there is a lack of TV and big game media exposure for most of the talented players at the Division I-AA level. However, I do believe that the scouts realize that there is a wealth of talent at this level due to the success of small college players in the NFL over the years. I am confident that if I get an opportunity, I will prove myself to be one of the premeire defensive lineman in this year's draft.

Q: What have you heard, if anything, on your draft status?

M.B.: I have heard everything from 4th to 7th round, but I feel that even if I am not drafted I will at least have the chance to prove myself in an NFL Camp.

Q: Rank your 3 playing strengths.

M.B.: My best playing strength is my ability to rush the passer. Even playing 60 plus snaps a game under constant double team blocking I was still able to pressure the quarterbacks that I faced or at least press the pocket and get my 6'4", 295 lbs. frame in their line of vision.

Next, I would say that my relentless pursuit to the ball. I never give up on a play or wait for a teammate to make the play on either a run or a pass play. I love to attack and punish the man with the ball, so relentless pursuit will be another playing strength.

Third, I would say that my durability is a playing strength that I possess. I have an ongoing annual weight lifting regimen that has allowed me to start in 35 consecutive college games and play 5 years of college football without missing a game or practice due to any injury (minor or major).

Q: Rank your 3 playing weaknesses.

M.B.: One weakness is that I at times will not completely destroy the blocker before I pursue to the ball. This will allow an offensive lineman to hold or try to shield me just long enough to keep me from getting to the ball. The other thing that I am good at doing, but I want to get much better at is using my hands against the lineman so that I can penetrate and attack the ball. These are things that I am continuously working on by doing drills and technique drills so that I can continue to develop in all aspects of the defensive lineman game.

Q: Is there a DT in the NFL(past or present) that you model your game after?

M.B.: I always watch players at my position in college and in the pros to pick up techniques to add to my game. Warren Sapp is definitely the most imposing of any defensive lineman in the league. I try to come off the ball with the same initial explosion in which he does to disrupt the offensive play by powering the O-lineman yards into the backfield. Also, John Randle has a quick swim move that he uses in combination with turning his body perpendicular to the line to squeeze his way through the gap. Chris Hovan also has a good rip that he uses to instantly penetrate into the line of scrimmage and disrupt plays in the backfield. I basically try any move that I see working well for someone else and if I am comfortable using it, it will become part of my arsendal to attack and disrupt the oppenent's play.

Q: Who do you credit for your development as both a player and a person. Is there a coach or a family member who's made a lasting impact on you? Explain how?

M.B.: My defensive line coach at Hampton University (Coach Parham) has brought my game a long way from the time I first entered college at 6'2 230 lbs. with very raw talent. Although, I always had the drive and desire to make plays he has taught me some technique to aid me to make those plays. Because I have only received coaching at my position since college I do not think I have scratched the surface of my full potential. Coach Parham has helped me as a person off the field by showing me how hard work breeds success.

Q: What are your plans after football is done?

M.B.: I hope that I will have properly planned my financial life so that I will have enough money to go into some type of business that I enjoy. Because of my great love for football though I am almost certain that I will continue to be in coaching or some career that will allow me to stay close to the game.

Q: How would you compare yourself to the bigger named DT's like Richard Seymour of Georgia and Shaun Rogers of Texas?

M.B.: I am impressed with their play, but I feel that my game is just as solid as theirs. I have the same size, quickness and strength as these players. Playing on the Div. I-AA level I had to play 60 plus plays a game because of limited talent depth and I still played at the same energy level the whole game and possibly better as the game went on, because I was able to physically wear on my opponent as the game was played. I am certain that I was game planned against just as much, if not more than those type players, because I did not have the other big name players playing beside me as they did. So, to answer your question I think that I definitely possess the same physical attributes as these bigger name DT's, plus I have the stamina and endurance to finish the game on the same energy level as I started the game.

Q: How would you draw up the "perfect" Draft Day scenario for yourself?

M.B.: I would like to be drafted on the first day of the draft of course, but I hope to be drafted or play for a team where I am expected to immediately contribute. I truly believe that I have the talent and the ability to play and start at the next level.

Q: Michael, have you thought of how much your life will change in the coming months? How are you preparing for it?

M.B.: I have given a lot of thought to this question. I try to take it one step at a time, so that I do not get consumed with the pressure. I do not know how I can really prepare for it besides to continually work out and physically and mentally condition myself so that I am prepared for whatever God has planned for me. I also have strong family support, and they are keeping me focused as this process develops.

Q: Judging by our phone conversation and the fact you've already graduated with a degree in English, do you feel you posses "football intelligence" as well? Are you a student of the game? Explain.

M.B.: I am a pretty quick learner and I am also analytical enough to break things down. As I had to do in my major in undergrad I can store a lot of information just by associating it with something else to commit it to memory. I also asked a lot of questions in meeting, and would pick my coordinator and position coachs' brains to gain a better conceptual understanding of offensive and defensive philosophies. I have also learned how to study my opponents on film.

Q: On a scale of 1-10, Rate your overall game. Explain why your reasoning for each grade.

M.B.: Pass Rushing- 9
In a system where I am allowed to rush upfield I can defeat any offensive lineman with my quickness, strength or the combination of the two. Even with double teams I can get enough movement on the blockers and have the savvy to get my hands up to disrupt the passer.

Run defense- 8
My run defense has improved volumes in the last two seasons. I now demand a double team on any play coming at me or I will make the play or disrupt the play in the backfield.

Pursuit- 9
From the first play to the 75th play as scouts will see on film I am still pursuing the ball with the same intensity.

Hand usage- 7
I am still working on my hand usage and placement. I still find myself giving up leverage even though I am the first to the point of contact because I do not get my hands on the inside sometimes.

Agility- 8
I have the lateral movement of a defensive end and play reach blocks well. I also handle the cut block well too.

Q: Who was the toughest O-Lineman you played against in college? Is there an NFL O-Linemen that you'd love to go up against?

M.B.: My junior year versus Arkansas Pine-Bluff I went up against Terrance Beadle. I had a bad flu that game and was physically weak and drained two days before the game and all the way up to the time of the game. He is the only offensive lineman that I would say got the best of me in college. I would love to play against Beadles again, of course I would want to play against him without the flu. One NFL lineman that I would love to go up against is Nate Newton of the Cowboys. He is from Florida A&M University which is our rival school.

I'd like to thank Michael and his brother Percy for giving me time to speak with them. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Keep your eyes and ears open for Michael's name in the coming months. He's sure to make some noise. Good Luck Michael!!!