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NFL Draft 2018 Q&A: Holy Cross, LB, Nick McBeath

McBeath is the latest in our interviews with small-school sleepers

(Nick McBeath was a First-Team All-Patriot League selection in 2017 and was named an All-American by Phil Steele. He is considered a potential sleeper coming into the 2018 NFL Draft. Recently, Underdog Dynasty’s Jonathan Willis caught up with McBeath and asked him about some of his experiences at Holy Cross.)

When did you first start playing football? When did you realize that you were good enough to play football at the next level?

I started playing flag football when I was around four or five. I started playing tackle when I was around seven, and I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL. It’s always been a dream since I was just a little kid. High school was when I started getting a little recognition from my county, newspapers and websites, stuff like that. Getting recognition from colleges, scholarship offers. It really struck me that it was a possibility, and then continuing on that success through college led me to where I am now.

Did you have any specific moment that just stood out where you knew you were better than everybody else growing up?

No specific moment, but just hard work. Putting in the work every day. A lot of people have the talent, but not a lot of people have the work ethic and dedication. I think that’s what puts me a little bit above everyone else.

What was it like playing high school football in Miami?

It’s awesome, it’s the best high school football in the country. South Florida has the most athletes. Every week you go in playing this five star player who has offers from every school in the country. Those were some of the best players I played against.

Your team almost knocked off Connecticut in the season opener, but fell just short. What was the locker room like after the game?

Everybody was definitely disappointed. No one was giving us a chance going into the game. I think they were something like a 20-point favorite, but we knew we could definitely hang with them and beat them.

We came out strong. We were up 20-7 in the fourth quarter, I think, and we blew the lead 27-20 (OC: UConn was down 20-7 and then scored with 15 seconds left in the third quarter). Everyone in the locker room was disappointed, but then there was optimism and hope for success because we played a pretty good team, the first FBS team we’ve played in a while, and we played them tough. I think everyone was optimistic about the rest of the season, but there was still disappointment just because we lost.

Yeah, you guys were about 20-point underdogs. Did you guys know that going into the game?

I think everyone on the team checks that type of stuff. I know you’re not supposed to, but I think everybody does. Everybody knew that and that kind of lit the fire under us.

Holy Cross pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when it crushed No. 9 New Hampshire 51-26 in its home opener. You had a big game with 14 tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection. Would you consider that the highlight of your senior year?

Yeah, that was definitely the highlight of senior year. That was a big game, a big win for the program. We hadn’t beaten a ranked team in a while, so that was definitely a big win. No one was giving us a chance in that game either.

It wasn’t even that we won, we won by a lot. That boosted everybody’s confidence, and it was definitely a highlight.

You had an excellent senior season. You were named First Team All-Patriot League and made a few All-American lists. What do you attribute your success to?

To my teammates, and the linebacking corps especially. They would always go in and watch film with me. Give me a good look in practice. The Mike linebacker next to me, Ryan Brady, if I didn’t make the tackle, he did. Have to give him a little shoutout because without him, we wouldn’t have been as successful as a defense.

Our linebacker coach and defensive coordinators were both essential to my success personally, and the team’s success. I mean, they definitely helped out, the coaches helped us a lot.

After the season you were invited to the College Gridiron Showcase. How was that experience?

It was a super good experience. We played against some talent that I haven’t faced at the college level, some bigger power five schools like players from Auburn and North Carolina. It was cool to see how I matched up against them. It was a really good experience in general. I got to talk to a couple teams here and there, and make some friends along the way.

Is Holy Cross having a pro day, if so when is it?

Yeah, we’re having one on March 22.

Have any NFL teams already contacted you or your agent?

Yeah, I think 18 teams have verified that they’re gonna be there. I’m not sure which ones, and I think the other 14 we’re still waiting for their confirmation.

How do you see yourself fitting in at the NFL level?

I think a new trend, because it’s become a pretty pass-happy league, is that you see guys like Deone Buchanan and Mark Barron, former safeties, move to linebacker. I think I can do that. I’m not the big traditional, 6’3, 250 lb. Mike linebacker. I’m a little smaller, little quicker, so I like to think of myself in comparison to those guys. Also, obviously, I can help out on special teams as well.

What do you like to do in your spare time? When you’re not playing football?

Mostly just be watching ESPN, hanging out with my friends, play some video games here and there, play some pickup basketball, listen to music. Nothing crazy.

Other than football what’s your favorite thing to watch on ESPN?

Definitely basketball. College basketball.

Who’s your favorite team?

Miami, I’m Miami all the way in every sport.

Tell us something that you think is interesting or unique about you. What sets you apart from everybody else?

I would say work ethic, determination, stuff like that. I’m definitely hungry for an opportunity. Football’s my life, that’s what I’m interested in the most. I don’t really have any other interests, football’s at the top of my list. I’m one of those guys that loves the game.

Be a leader on and off the field. I can get the most out of people. I was a captain this year, and I can get the most out of people and make sure everybody’s working hard on or off the field to achieve the team goal.