2016 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Isaac Seumalo, OL Oregon State
Isaac Seumalo opted to declare for the NFL Draft after spending 4 years and playing 37 games at Oregon State. Seumalo has played tackle guard and center, but he’s spent the most time playing the pivot for the Beavers.
Although a foot injury hampered him during parts of his career, Seumalo has always been a finisher that plays with a nasty streak. Healthy now and coming off of a productive offseason including a good performance at the combine, the best may be ahead of Seumalo as he prepares to be selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Pete Smith: How disappointed was your dad when you came home and told him you were gonna be an offensive lineman, being that he’s a defensive line coach?
Isaac Seumalo: Naw, he wasn’t disappointed. He knew that was probably the best spot. He was just happy that I got to be around here, be with him.
PS: Watching you on tape, you seem to take a lot of pride as a finisher, not being satisfied until the other guy is on the ground. Where do you think you developed that?
IS: I think partially from my dad. He always told me to love the game, play with passion and look to finish every play. And I think at the same time, it’s a little bit genetic. A lot of Polynesian kids just enjoy the violence of the game and I’m no different.
PS: Is that physical style, man on man blocking, something you take the most pride in?
IS: Yea, definitely. Football is the ultimate team sport, but at the end of the day, it’s 11 1-on-1 matchups when you break it down and you gotta win those. Just as an offensive lineman, you’ve gotta work with the other four guys. When you can really work together cohesively, it produces a lot of good things.
PS: You’ve played every position but left guard in your career, so when someone asks you what you play, how do you answer?
IS: I kind of, you know, laugh a little bit and then just kinda tell them I came in as a center and then I played other positions due to injury. I’ve always tried to be unselfish. You know, put the team first. Wherever coaches need me to play, not only do I play it but I wanted to be just as good if not one of the best in the conference at it. I take a lot of pride in that.
PS: So along with that, are teams looking at you as a center/guard or do some teams look at the fact that you played left tackle and think you can play all 5?
IS: Yea, a lot of teams, you know, center/guard and then in a pinch, go out to tackle. I know I’m not the tallest, prototypical tackle, but I understand they can only dress 6 or 7 guys. You need guys that can play multiple positions and play them really well. I think it’s been a blessing.
PS: So when you measured at the combine, you came in at 6’4”. You consider yourself a short 6’4”?
IS: Yea, I mean I don’t know. I’ve always thought tackles in the NFL were at least 6’5” and up. When I went to the combine, seeing the tackles there, I know I wasn’t the prototypical tackle, but I know can play out there. I feel athletic enough to play out there. I know a lot of teams have me at all 5 positions.
PS: Do you prefer the interior just because it’s more immediate, hands on, physicality type thing where you’re usually taking on other 300lbers? It’s a battle of wills as opposed to trying to chase down smaller, quicker guys trying to get away from you.
IS: Yea, definitely. Playing interior is such a physical grind and being able to take pride in that, you know, move the pile, move the line of scrimmage is something I like doing.
PS: What’s the status of your foot? It’s been two years since the injury, but any lingering effects or anything at this point?
IS: Naw, this is the healthiest I’ve been in a long time with my foot. The past two years were very up and down physically. It was hard because I couldn’t work out the way that I’d like to, but now I’m starting to really get stronger and get back to where I was. I do some stuff preventative wise just cuz it doesn’t bother me all. I just know my body and I know I gotta take care of it. My body’s my job now, so I gotta do everything I can now to keep it healthy.
PS: No, sure. Once you’ve gone through something like that, it can’t help but enter your mind you don’t want to deal with it again.
IS: Yea, definitely. No, you’re right, but in terms of like gamedays, I don’t think about it anymore. It doesn’t slow me down or make me hesitate.
PS: In terms of your combine performance, you did well, but is there part of you that feels like the best is still yet to come because of the last two years and being up and down physically and now finally feeling the best you’ve felt?
IS: Yea, I believe so. I can remember my first two seasons playing, I felt like the last games, I was getting better. Unfortunately, I had the injury, but I feel my best football is yet to come. My mantra is always get better, work on my weaknesses. But I definitely believe I have better football coming.
PS: You did bench press at Pro Day, but you did really well at everything else at the combine. How did you feel like it went?
IS: I did the best I could in terms of the agility, the field stuff, even the drills I feel like I did really good. I thought I did really well, you know, whatever that means. Whatever that combine stuff means. I mean I thought I did well.
PS: (Laughs) So I’m guessing the happiest you felt at the combine was basically right after you finished that second 40-yard dash?
IS: (Laughs) Yea. I mean, you know, I trained for this stuff, so I wanted to do well in that regard, because I’ve been training for it, but at the end of the day, I know the last close to 40 games I’ve played are what teams are really gonna look at. All of this combine and interview stuff is kind of icing on the cake, but my resumé is out there. Hopefully a team will be interested enough to take me. I want the opportunity.
PS: Other than doing the bench press at Pro Day, how happy were you to be able to get to being a football player and not worry about numbers that aren’t necessarily going help you block anyone?
IS: Yea, I was super happy, because I had been dealing with a pec injury. That’s why I didn’t do it at the combine. So I was happy to get through the bench healthy and now I can just focus on playing the game I love. I’ve been traveling to visits and been having teams come and work me out, you know, I get it, it’s part of the process. You know, whatever happens next week happens. Just gonna go and work my tail off.
PS: How would you characterize the scheme you ran at Oregon State?
IS: My first 2, 3 years when Coach (Mike) Riley was there, we were a big pro team. I mean we did everything under the sun in terms of pass protection and in the run game. A lot was asked of the center. I’m super thankful for it now because teams look for that and I know when it comes to the mental side of things, it’s easy for me to pick up stuff, learn it.
And then last season, with the new coaching staff, we had a lot more spread put in, a lot of shotgun. It was different, so it was good to get a different perspective but at the same time, it’s not super applicable. It’s still football at the end of the day, but it’s just a different system last season.
PS: Your dad is now the defensive line coach for Arizona State. How has your relationship changed and how he does he sort of impact you as far as being an offensive lineman even though that’s not what he coaches?
IS: In terms of like work ethic, the approach to the game, you know, not necessarily offensive line details but just in terms of how you approach football and what you do to prepare, he’s been a huge influence. He’s been my coach my whole life. It’s a little different now that I’m older and it’s kind of uncharted territory, but I always look to him for advice because I know I can always get an honest opinion. He’s usually right about things and it’s helped me become the player I am.
PS: I was told you became pretty close friends with Bronson Kaufusi (DL, BYU).
IS: Ah yea, that’s my – we trained together and we were roommates for January, February. He’s just an awesome dude. We really got along well. He’s just a hard worker, super good football player. Yea, that’s my guy.
PS: How much of that is who he is and how much is having a similar background, both being of Polynesian descent and everything that comes with that? Big, tight families and all that stuff.
IS: It’s weird because we’re both, you know, half Polynesian with two different race parents and then our dads are both coaches, both have big families, both played where our dads coached at. It was kind of cool because we had a lot of similar stories and stuff, but at the same time, he’s just a good dude, you know, returned missionary.
We were both focused. We didn’t have to worry about each other doing this or that in terms of distractions. We would just chill, go to sleep early, work out. It was awesome to have a roommate like him.