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Transcript of David Onyemata's conference call with Saints media

Posted Apr 30, 2016

Onyemata was selected as the 120th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman David Onyemata
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Saturday, April 30, 2016

Do you see yourself more as a defensive tackle or as an end?

“I see myself playing both tackle and end and I think I will be playing both. I’m really comfortable with tackle and end.”

Which one did you play more?

“I was a tackle throughout college and then I got to the shrine game and they had me playing end.”

Did your college run a 3-4 or 4-3?

“We ran a 4-3 (base) and a 3-4 in second and long and in prevent.”

When you played tackle what technique were you and do you have a preference?

“I played both the one and the three. I feel comfortable playing all around the field.”

What was your contact with the Saints throughout the draft process?

“I had really close contact with coach Bill Johnson. He was there for my pro day and he worked me out throughout the pro day and we had a feel for each other. I was literally just waiting for the draft to see what happens and how the whole process goes.”

Was the shrine game your first chance to know how good you were compared to other good players?

“Yes, it was just an opportunity to go out there and perform with a couple of the best going into the draft. It was really huge for me because every year it’s a handful of guys that come down from Canada to the Shrine game. It was really huge for me I would say.”

When was the first time you realized you might play in the NFL?

“I am really hard on myself and in 2014 I felt really comfortable with everything I was doing. That was the first time. I just started playing football five years ago. I never knew anything about it or the process and I hadn’t seen the game until I got to Canada.”

Why did you go to Canada?

“My sister went to school there and my mom was already familiar with what Canada was like. She had already lived there.”

Did you move to Canada for football?

“I just moved there for school.”

What did you major in and what were your career aspirations?

“Environmental science.”

Why did you decide to start playing football?

“I approached my head coach myself because I just felt it was time I try something because all I did was go to school and go back home. I had so much free time that I needed to do something. I ended up trying out for the team.”

Where did you go back home too?

“I would leave (school) Canada and go back, but I lived in Nigeria all the way until 2011.”

What kind of exposure did you have to American football?

“I had a couple friends that I played with in high school that went to elementary schools in the states and they knew what American football was and we talked about it a couple times, but I didn’t really know that much about it before that or anything about the game. I didn’t know it was played.”

Was there a point or something that happened that caused it to go from just being something you were doing to a full-time career?

“I just fell in love with the game, that is what happened. I just fell in love with the game, hitting guys and just being out there with my guys. I enjoyed being out there. I’d love to do this for a long time.”

Do you spend a lot of time studying the NFL game and maybe trying to learn things from those players?

“The Canadian game is a little bit different than the NFL game, but once I put my mind into something, I get everything out of it. I have a good understanding of the American game so it will be really easy.”

What were you doing today when you got the phone call?

“I was golfing with some of my buddies. It was my first time golfing so that was the funny thing. It was kind of a struggle early but once I got that phone call, I started hitting the ball really good.”

Who did you talk to?

“I talked to Coach Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis and (Defensive Line) Coach Bill Johnson.”

Are you in Canada right now? Is there ice out there yet?

“Yes, I am in Canada right now. It is not that warm right now (but) it’s getting there.”

Were you expecting to get drafted or were you unsure as to what to expect today?

“Based on the visits that I had, it was out there. Four months ago, I wasn’t relying on that. Four months ago, I was just getting an opportunity to play and maybe get the opportunity to try out for a team or something. That is what I wanted out of it. It is a great opportunity to have right now.”

Have you done anything to take the game more seriously? Have you changed your body, size of your muscle or your weight?

“When I got to Canada, I used to weigh 330 (pounds). Over the last couple of years, I have been losing weight based on the season the next year. Last year, I got to 295 (pounds) because I was going to be on the field the whole time. I felt like 295 was a much better weight to be on the field the whole time and be effective.”

Before you started playing football, were you involved in any other kind of sport?

“I played soccer growing up. I played right back defender.”

So you have always been defense-oriented?

“Pretty much. Sometimes, I go upfront to score. I think I am a fast person so I go up there to score a couple of goals, and go back and play defense.”

Before you came to the Shrine game, had you spent much time in the United States?

“No, when I went out to the Shrine game, that was my fourth time in the United States. I visited Los Angeles twice and I was in (Washington) D.C. once when I was younger.”

Describe yourself as a player; what are your attributes?

“I am a strong and physical guy. I’m going to kill who comes out there. I want to win every rep I take. (I have) speed. I’m a really quick guy as well.”

Are there any former players from Canada who have helped you with this process at all?

“I spoke to Akiem Hicks once. I’ve been with Israel Idonije. He is someone who went to the same university as me. He played in the NFL a couple of years (10). He played for a long time so he is one of those guys that I talked to every now and then throughout the whole process.”

Starting when (did you speak with Israel Idonije)? Was it just recently or for years?

“For years. Ever since I (moved) out here.”

What do you know about New Orleans?

“I visited New Orleans. (I) Like the festivals and Mardi Gras. I don’t know that much (about it). I tried crawfish.”

When did you visit?

“Maybe two months ago.”

Have you ever practiced or played a game in 80 or 90 degree weather?

“Yes, it gets warm out here in the beginning of the season. I played in most temperatures. I played in minus 15 and I have played in really hot weather.”

How does it feel that the Saints actually traded up to draft you?

“I feel blessed. It is a blessing. I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Once I got that call, I was so pumped. I am just ready to go.”

Is there anything about your personal background that made you want to major in environmental science?

“Just based on where I am from. Before I left, there wasn’t recycling back home or none of that. That was something that I looked into and thought about it as something that I’d like to do to change where I am from.”

Well you know Nigeria and Louisiana have both had their share of pollution?

“You can go places in Nigeria where it is questionable. You go some places and see things that you shouldn’t be seeing.”

When you sign your contract are your classmates going to pressure you to buy an electric car?

“I don’t even know what I am going to buy. I still have my Pontiac G5 here.”