Protecting the blindside: Interview with Virginia Tech OT Yosuah Nijman

NFL teams are always looking for ways to get to the quarterback.  Today’s game is loaded with all-pro pass rushers such as Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. While teams are constantly searching for the next double digit sack artist, lengthy tackles with the ability to slow them down are becoming more and more rare with each passing draft class.

Meet Virginia Tech’s left tackle Yosuah Nijman, who’s repeatedly been praised by football analytics site Pro Football Focus for his stellar play this season.

Nijman took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us here at Draft Breakdown. Nijman and I discussed how his time at the Fork Union Military Academy changed the man he is today, how to handle a speed rush versus a bull rush and the best pass rusher he’s ever faced.

JM: We’re here on the Draft Breakdown with Virginia Tech offensive tackle Yosuah Nijman. Thanks for joining me today Yosuah.

YN: No problem. Thanks for having me.

JM: You took the scenic route to Virginia Tech, having gone through the Fork Union Military Academy on your way to Division I football. What did you learn during your time there?

YN: I didn’t know what to expect when I first got there. It was very structured. I learned a lot of discipline. I had to clean my room every day; we have to make sure nothing is misplaced. You can’t even have anything on the floor of your bedroom. We were very specific about how to start off your day. I learned how to march down there. If you’ve ever seen a military march on TV, I was trained to do that. We used to march to breakfast every morning. It’s all about establishing a routine. Honestly, I thought it was awesome. My head was very level during my time at Fork Union. Everything was structured. I never had to think about what to wear in the morning. We were always in sync. I met a lot of good people there. Some of my post-grad teammates are here at Virginia Tech with me. We’re still great friends now.

JM: It’s obviously very structured as you mentioned. How did those experiences change your attitude and work ethic?

YN: It helped me realize that although I wanted to play football, Fork Union helped me take it seriously. I matured a lot while there. I’m not the same person I was when I left high school. I was just an immature kid when I arrived at Fork Union. They taught me how to be a man. I wanted to go to a school where I could excel academically as well as on the football field. It completely changed my work habits. Fork Union helped me understand what it means to be organized and how to work towards my goals.

JM: It wasn’t the only change. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you arrived at Virginia Tech as a defensive linemen. Why did you make the position change to OT?

YN: At the time, the offensive line coach wanted me to play on his line. They proposed it to me one day in [former Virginia Tech head coach] Frank Beamer’s office. I told them that I didn’t mind heading over to the offense. At that moment, I just wanted the opportunity to play. I didn’t really care where I was going to be; I just wanted to be out there.