It's been called âThe World's Toughest Job Interview.â For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 24-March 2), college football's best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts conducting all of their due diligence before the NFL Draft. To prepare, nearly two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition, Vision and psychological training with Athletic & Personal Development program specialists and on-field training with some of the game's top football coaches.
Though he's now one of the NFL Draft's top prospects, left tackle Anthony Castonzo only had a few looks from colleges as a high school player in Hawthorn Woods, Ill. After setting the Boston College record for career starts, Castonzo is now preparing for a career in the NFL. After a recent regeneration session in a hyperbaric chamber, Castonzo talked about majoring in biochemistry, ignoring trash talk, military school and seeing Dean Martin in concert.
Anthony Castonzo on...
...the mind state of an offensive lineman: You can't be out there to please anyone. You're out there because you take pride in what you do. I look at it as an individual challenge because you are battling on every play. It's almost like a boxing match. Every play, someone is going to come out on top. You've got to have that killer instinct to make sure you're the one who comes out on top.
...giving up a sack: It's something I'm not really used to doing, but you feel terrible when it happens. The quarterback has to feel comfortable in knowing that you're going to your job. It's embarrassing if it happens because everyone sees it.
I try not to get too caught up in watching film on who I'm going against. I feel like if my technique is right, my footwork is right, my punch is strong and my hips are low, I'm going stop the person, no matter who it is that I'm going against. I'll watch a little bit of film the night before a game, especially for someone's go-to move. What is he going to do when the pressure is on?
...majoring in Biochemistry at BC: I'm the kind of guy if I'm uninterested in class, I get bored quickly. I need to be challenged. I'll do poorer in a class that's easy. I have an interest in medical research, so I wanted to go down that path. I had to put in a ton of work in labs, which was hard sometimes fitting everything into the schedule.
I think our intelligence is extremely underestimated as a group. As an offensive lineman, you have to be very intelligent. You have to know the schemes as well as a quarterback. You have to recognize defenses. Everyone has to communicate and make calls. Still, with the preconceived notion that we're all grunts and butting our heads together all game, when the ball is snapped, you have to go into that âcaveman mentalityâ that nobody is getting past me.
...ignoring trash talk: People have told me that a guy won't shut up, but I don't even notice it. I don't really talk much. I just go out and do my job. I remember at the very end of the Virginia game last year, a kid from near my hometown was talking to our guard and goes, "Hey, Richmond, how come Castonzo's not talking?" I actually got into his head by not talking.
...attending a military school for a year before BC: I didn't have many scholarships out of high school, so I went there to get a little more exposure and develop a bit more. You wake up to a trumpet in the morning. You have to be out in the hallway standing at attention in 10 minutes. You have to march to breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have an hour set aside just for marching every day. It was crazy, but it got me to where I need to be.
...being the best: I've only got one lifetime, so I should make the most of it. What's the point of doing anything half-a**. Why do I want to be the second-best offensive tackle, whether it's right now or all-time? My goal is to be the best ever. It would be pointless to play this game and not have that goal. I purposely set my goals as high as possible.
...five artists he'd pay to see perform: B.O.B., Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West. Do they have to be living? I would kill to be at one of those nightclubs where Dean Martin was crooning. I love them both, but I'd take Dean over Frank Sinatra. I love Sublime. I like pretty much everything, except country, which is unusual for a lineman.
...his favorite players: No. 1 is Richard Dent. I grew up saying, "I want to crush the quarterback like Richard Dent." Who knew my sole purpose in life would be to protect the quarterback? Jake Long. He's an animal. D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Joe Thomas. You probably notice a trend. I love watching the o-line. And I loved Terrell Davis when I was growing up.
...training at IMG Academy: My agent, Tom Condon, recommended that I come here because it's the best of the best. I figured all training places were the same, but when I got here, I was kind of floored by how awesome it is. Everything is approached from a scientific manner, so as a science guy, I appreciate that. Whether it's Coach Seagrave talking about training your nervous system or Coach Dillman talking about breathing when on the bench, it's really cool.
At the Senior Bowl, all of the IMG guys stuck together like a little clique. I had only been at the Academy for a week, but we all gelled quickly. We all have the same goals, so whatever position you play, we all fit together pretty well.