Recently, we here at BillsMafia.com did a story on small school prospects so Bills fans can learn about some under the radar players in this year’s draft. One of those players, Brendan Munnerlyn, graciously took the time to do an interview.
Tell us how you ended up at Milford Academy?
Munnerlyn: I ended up at Milford after graduating from Lincoln Technical Institute. I took Automotive Technology courses while pending trial for a friend’s loaded handgun in my car. He asked for a ride and I knew he owned a gun, but didn’t suspect he would ever be carrying the gun with him that day. Worst mistake of my life. This happened exactly 30 days after graduating from high school. I made bond immediately and enrolled into Lincoln Technical Institute after I was advised not to leave the state. I was still on the verge of deciding on Geneva College in Pennsylvania, Ferrum College and Milford Academy. Those dreams were put on hold for a year and some months, but I made the most of my opportunity at Lincoln Technical Institute. I graduated on time and considered it something to fall back on. In truth, it was kind of hard to get teams/coaches to buy into a 19 year old kid fresh off probation with a gun charge, even though it was not my gun. The basic charges never acknowledge that for some reason, it just states my acquittal. Anyways, I stayed in-touch with Milford’s Defensive Backs Coach Dwight Hazelwood and updated him constantly until the day I was cleared by the state of Maryland.
Who were some teams recruiting you out of high school?
Marshall and Syracuse were two of the bigger teams recruiting me.
Syracuse’s head coach at that time was Doug Marrone. What was your first face-to-face interaction with him like?
I remember approaching him and he said, “Look kid, I’ve seen you guys practice and play. You have a great attitude along with good work ethic that can take you to the next level and get you an education. I’m going to follow up with you throughout this season and make sure your doing what your supposed to be doing.”
Ultimately, you chose Marshall. Why?
They agreed Prop 48 was better than Junior College and I enrolled during the summer, majored in Art, and stayed in touch with as many coaches as I possibly could. A family issue led me to leave Marshall unfortunately. I ended up at the College of Southern Maryland and had planned on going to Stevenson but a FAFSA issue derailed that. I actually took a job as a mechanic and felt that my football dream was over. My girlfriend encouraged me to pursue football again and although I knew it wasn’t the traditional route to the NFL, I took it.
Talent in football runs in your family. Tell us about your relationship with your cousin Captain Munnerlyn.
Very excited for my big cousin, Captain. I told my agent that I know leaving Carolina was hard for him. He had been there for about five years. A lot of my family is down there so I know it was hard for him to leave, but I’m certain he wanted to establish himself as a top cornerback. I compare him to Antoine Winfield, and I told him a while ago on Facebook, “You can be the Captain, I plan on being the General.” My family thanks God everyday for our natural abilities.
Speaking of natural abilities, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a defensive back?
One plus is I always deliver a hard hit. I love to hit hard and I love to tackle. Do you know how many NFL players do not want to hit or want to be hit? I embrace that. I have very fluid movements and I get to the ball well. I am very quick as well as fast. I am a natural athlete, and I have a great vertical. Press Cover 2, is the best for me because I can press the WR and he will think it’s man coverage but I can flip my hips get my eyes back to the quarterback’s eyes. If the tight end creeps over to my zone, I will make him regret it. Same thing for a Running back flaring out of the backfield. I am very smart, that is my best trait.
Weaknesses? I think too much on the field sometimes instead of letting my natural instincts take over. I also need to improve my ball skills.
What players did you look up to growing up?
Deion Sanders was my guy. Lawrence Taylor was my biggest motivator though, because I played linebacker my entire Pop Warner career. I wore #56 and I tried to play just like him too. As I became a teenager, I began to love Ray Lewis and his dedication to the game. I’ve also been watching Charles Woodson since his Michigan days. But the closest one I watched was my teammate LaMaar Thomas, who currently plays wide receiver for the Jaguars. Everyone always knew he would make it and I loved to go up against him.
Which current NFL players do you feel your game compares to most?
My game has been compared to a taller version of Nickell Robey by Bleacher Report writer Ian Wharton and Tyrann Mathieu by people that know me personally. Both seem spot on, considering Robey’s ability to cover from the slot and how he comes up and makes plays very aggressively and ferociously. I must admit he is much more up to par with his ball skills than I am currently. However, it should be noted that what I lack in comparison to his natural ball skills I make up for with height, vertical jumping ability and my aggressive tackling.
Why should a team draft you in the 2014 NFL Draft?
A club should draft me in May because I have been a model citizen since my earlier childhood mistakes. I was wreaking havoc and hanging with the wrong crowds and all of that. Then, in November of 2009 I was being processed and going to county jail, for my last time ever, while my friend Joe Haden was playing against Vandy on ESPN. I thought about how life was too short to keep getting arrested and die so young, both of which was usual to my environment. I promised myself that I would get out and I would do whatever it would take to make it. I don’t smoke and I never drank alcohol. Alcoholism runs in my family and that was never something I wanted to associate myself with. I am a very active member in the Oil of Joy Ministry Church and am very active in the community with public schools and being an assistant coach of Pop Warner teams. I am willing to do whatever it takes to work my way up a roster. Whether it’s a tryout, being on a practice squad or scout team, or playing special teams, I’ll give it my all. You will never meet a person more committed.
March Madness play began today, so it’s fitting that we run this interview with Brendan on the same day. He’s certainly an underdog when it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft, but if anyone deserves a Cinderella story it’s Brendan. We’d like to thank Brendan for taking the time to do this interview. He can be followed on Twitter: @IronManBrendan.