2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Ethan Tabel, LS, University of Illinois
- Name: Ethan Tabel
- Position: Long Snapper
- College: University of Illinois
- Height: 5’11
- Weight: 235
- Twitter: @ethan_tabel
- Instagram: @ethantabel
What makes you a top prospect at your position in the 2022 NFL Draft?
I’m a top prospect because of my experience and my consistency. I’ve had 56 games in college football and snapped for a B1G kicker and punter of the year. I’ve never had a botched operation, even in the cold, rain, wind, and snow of B1G football.
At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?
I’ve been in love with football as far back as I can remember. Probably 4 or 5 years old!
What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?
I’ve experienced adversity all throughout my football career. I love a challenge and I don’t quit. I will continue to try and be the best me I can be, no matter the obstacles.
If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be?
I don’t think anybody should have to live on the streets. Being starving and without a home is a tragedy to me. I would donate to a cause benefiting the homeless.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My dad used to say that proper preparation prevents poor performance. No matter what aspect of football or life you’re talking about, I’ve found that advice to ring true.
Who was your childhood hero?
My hero is my dad. His ability to deal with adversity and continue to push is what I hope to replicate. He always tried his best for our family, even if he wasn’t sure what was going to happen or how to do it. I always admired that, even when I wasn’t quite old enough to understand what it meant.
Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school?
I’ve had so many great teammates. Two that come to mind are Zac Holman who graduated in 2019 and Hugh Robertson who is currently a 28-year-old sophomore. Both of them are Australians who came to the US to play football. Those guys love everyone on the team and support them better than anyone I’ve been around. They weren’t superstars but, man, did they care about everyone.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Being rude to waiters or retail and service workers. Those people are rarely to blame for any inconvenience you have. It’s not hard to treat them with respect.
Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome?
Although I could say recovering from tearing my ACL in less than 8 months, walking on to Illinois was the biggest obstacle I’ve overcome. When the coaching staff changed in 2016, I had nobody on staff that could tell me whether I still had a spot or not. The first semester of my freshman year, I practiced and lifted every day, despite not knowing if a locker would be open come spring. That was over 4 months of uncertainty and doubt. Even in that adversity, I never blinked.
Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you?
The academics at Illinois are the best in the country and the entire campus is beautiful and historic, but the biggest reason I love this school is that it’s home. Every day I get to walk around a campus in the state I grew up in and represent the people I love. Being able to honor my home state on and off the field is really special for me.
What is your favorite snack food?
Jelly Belly jelly beans. The more flavors the better.
What is the best part of football?
It’s the best team sport in the world. I get to live out my wildest childhood dreams with some of my best friends, who are living their dreams too. What it takes to create that bond is unique to football, and that’s why it’s the best.
If you could sell yourself in one sentence what would you say?
When it’s at it’s worst, I’m at my best.
If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be?
Chase McLaughlin was a teammate of mine in 2017 and 2018. Before I got to Illinois, he was in a similar position to me where he was a walk-on that just wanted a shot. After years of adversity, he ended up being one of the greatest kickers in Illinois history. His NFL journey was similar. He bounced from team to team but he never gave up hope. He bet on himself and now he’s the starting kicker for the Cleveland Browns.
If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Anthony Bourdain, Michael Jordan, and Vincent Van Gogh. I’m always drawn to the people that have had to overcome obstacles in their lives because those obstacles create a character. Neither Bourdain, Jordan, or Van Gogh had an easy path to success, yet they achieved it. Bourdain is one of my favorite writers and personalities. He went through a lot of hardship before his passing and I think I would gain valuable insights into life and how to suck the marrow out of it. He’d likely know a good place for dinner, too. Jordan is simply the greatest of all time, not to say he hasn’t had to overcome adversity himself. His experiences as an athlete interest me. What does that level of greatness take? How does one sustain greatness over such a long period of time? I’d be interested to pick his brain on that. Van Gogh is my favorite artist. Anyone can look at his work and know that it’s him. I’d be interested to hear his approach to creating things. He didn’t create work that was beloved in his lifetime, yet it’s priceless today. His motivation to continue to create despite adversity is really intriguing to me.