INDIANAPOLIS — Linebacker EJ Speed, the Indianapolis Colts’ fifth-round (164th-overall) pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, held his first media conference call on Saturday. What did he have to say about his game?
What position do you think you will play in the pros?
“I will play WILL – outside linebacker.”
So you played a little receiver in college and quarterback before that, but it’s strictly linebacker moving forward?
“Yes, strictly linebacker now.”
How much contact did you have with the Colts and did you expect to be drafted?
“Yes, I expected to be drafted. I came down for a (top) 30 visit with the Colts (inaudible). I just felt the organization was very positive and active moving forward and I feel like they do what they wanted to when I was down on the visit with showing me the schemes and everything. I loved the GM, he was great – Mr. (Chris) Ballard. Everything went well down on the visit. I had plenty of fun. Sorry, I am talking so fast I am still excited.”
How much do you think the legal issues you had to deal with might have impacted where you were selected in the draft? How much did you have to sell yourself to teams that you could avoid trouble?
“I mean, selling myself to teams was based on the football field, but the legal issue was just something that me and a lot of guys learned from and just distancing myself from guys that aren’t going in the same direction as me. Yeah, that is pretty much it on the legal issue, so that wasn’t really a big deal.”
How much did teams pepper you with questions about that and your character off the field?
“It wasn’t really an issue in my recruiting. We talked about football most of the time.”
In your words, what happened?
“I am not really going to get into the basics, I am just really excited at the moment to come down to Indianapolis and play football and be a part of a great organization.”
So you are treating it as a one-time thing, you’ve moved on and there won’t be a second stumble?
“No, definitely not. Definitely no second stumbles or anything like that.”
What is your game for those that haven’t seen you play yet?
“Speed is my biggest factor and elusiveness and playmaking ability. I love to make spectacular plays. It’s like a fetish for me to make spectacular plays that I feel like no one else can make. So that’s basically my game – just always searching for a big play that can change the game.”
There is a pretty good WILL linebacker on the roster already. Have you been able to follow what Darius Leonard did last year?
“Yes, Darius Leonard is a great player. Very fast, very elusive with his Rookie of the Year accolades and everything that he has done, I am looking forward to coming in and really being able to learn from him.”
He also played outside of Division I. Do you know that part of his story and is that a motivating factor for you?
“Yeah, coming outside of Division I you always kind of got a chip on your shoulder because you know that you are talented enough to play at those bigger levels of football. But once you get into the NFL, it’s like a reset button for everybody and now you’ve got to prove yourself all over again. He (Darius Leonard) did a great job of that and I plan on doing the same.”
With your versatility, how did you come to be a linebacker? Were teams trying to get you to play other positions?
“Most of my talk was linebacker. I take the offseason very seriously in preparing so my versatility is just off me working hard at different positions that I know I will be playing the next season.”
Did you play in any all-star games?
“No, I didn’t. I got invited to the GS, the Gridiron Showcase, but I didn’t play in it. I wish I would have but I didn’t.”
Did you have pro days?
“Yes, I did a pro day for my school at Aledo (Texas) and I went to the Lone Star Conference pro day up at Commerce (Texas).”
Do you have much of a special teams background?
“Yes, I actually did well for Coach (Michael) Ghobrial at Tarleton State on field goal block and punt block and kickoff and kickoff return. So yeah, I am pretty special on special teams.”
How did you end up at a Division II school? Were there opportunities to play FCS or Division I?
“Yes, there were opportunities, but my brother who was adopted, named Paul Snead he was adopted, coming out of little league football for us and he got diagnosed with cancer in December of my senior year in high school so I decided to stay close to him with the chances that he would get over cancer and come and play with me at a closer school, about 45 minutes away from my house. He ended up passing away in April, so that didn’t work out. But in all, I was excited because I thought Tarleton was a great school with a great coaching staff, athletic directors and the family I talked to was just amazing. So it worked out.”
So did you grow up pretty close to Tarleton State?
“Yes, I did. Actually, we played Stephenville High School, which is the high school for the Tarleton State College in the city. So I had been to Stephenville before, but I didn’t really just grow up around the university until I got there.”
So you had offers to play at bigger schools?
“Yes – Oklahoma State, Colorado, Colorado State and the University of Lamar.”