Monday, February 23, 2009

Player Interview: Antonio Appleby

Antonio Appleby is a big inside linebacker that has a nose for the ball. Part of the reason he's so appealing to NFL teams right now is the growing popularity of the 3-4 defense. He was a starting ILB for 3 years at Virginia. With him, you get a big, run stuffing ILB who also has enough speed to possibly play on the outside. I listed him as a 4-star performer in this year's Texas vs. the Nation Game and he had a key fumble recovery playing MLB in a 4-3. I expect him to be taken on the 2nd day of the draft. Talking to him you really get the feeling he's an intelligent guy who will do everything he can to reach his great potential.

"I’m a player but I know I stand for more than that"
-Antonio Appleby

Some of his career highlights:
6th-Best recruit in VA by SuperPrep & Scout ('05)
2 starts, led true freshmen in tackles ('05)
10 tackles in Music City Bowl ('05)
Started all 12 games at ILB ('06)
Second on team with 68 tackles ('06)
Started all 13 games at ILB ('07)
60 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks ('07)
Started 11/12 games at ILB ('08)
Career high 72 tackles, 7.5 TFL ('08)

JP: What is your current height/weight?

AA: I’m 6’3” and 245. I should bench in the 20’s.

JP: How are you getting physically prepared for the draft?

AA: Right now I’m training in Orlando with Tom Shaw at the Wide World of Sports, just doing speed and conditioning drills.

JP: Are there any players in the NFL you would compare yourself to, or model your game after?

AA: I don’t really model my game after anyone. The person I would relate most to would be James Farrior of the Steelers. We play the same position and in the same defense. I see a lot of my game correlating to how he plays.

JP: What do you feel are your strengths as a player?

AA: Running the defense, communicating, and getting everybody on the same page. Stopping the run, doing what needs to be done as a Middle Linebacker.

JP: What area of your game do you think could use the most improvement?

AA: I’m working on just making more plays in the passing game, working on my drops, man to man coverage, anything correlating to the passing game.

JP: Would you feel comfortable as an MLB in a 4-3 defense, or would you rather stay as an ILB in a 3-4?

AA: With me I really feel comfortable in either defense. I got a little bit of experience with that at the Texas vs. Nation game in El Paso in January. I’m basically versed in the 3-4 but I feel like I could probably play MLB or WLB in a 4-3, football is football.

JP: Who is the best RB you’ve ever gone against?

AA: I get asked that question a lot, and it’s kind of hard for me to say because I’ve faced so many great running backs. If I had to pick an overall best player I’ve played against it would be Calvin Johnson. He was super gifted, made incredible plays and he was a gamer.

JP: Who are some of your teammates that you think have a shot of playing at the next level?

AA: This year we have a long list of guys. Eugene Monroe, Clint Sintim, Kevin Ogletree, John Phillips, Cedric Peerman. Athletically Chris Cook, hopefully Jameel Sewell will get a chance, Will Barker. There’s a long list and we have a pretty good amount of players.

JP: What is the greatest moment of your athletic career?

AA: My freshman year we played Florida St. We beat them and they were ranked 3 or 4 in the nation. It was a great experience I’ll never forget. The power went out for a little while; it was just a freak game.

JP: What’s your favorite NFL team?

AA: I don’t really have a favorite NFL team; I just like watching great defenses. The Ravens, the Steelers, Titans, just watching great defenses take over a quarter of a game and just dominate. I’m really more of a fan of great defenses that just dominate.

JP: What do you like to do in your free time?

AA: We as football players work so hard in my free time, I just kick back and relax, watch TV, do a little reading, video games, anything to get my mind off the grind.

JP: Why should a team take you on April 25th/26th?

AA: I feel as though I bring a certain level of professionalism to any organization that picks me up. I’m a player but I know I stand for more than that. I represent my family, the organization, the city, and myself. They know they have a man that takes his job seriously, and a person who is not looked upon as just a football player, I’m looked at as a role model and a leader in the community. It’s more than just football.

JP: Thanks for your time.

AA: Thank you

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