Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Brendan Munnerlyn, DB, Milford Academy
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
Out of high school, I had Syracuse, Marshall University, and Geneva College (division 3) as well as Ferrum mostly because of my cousin-in-law, Mike Howard. But I honestly didn’t have the grades , some were offering me a prop 48, others were offering juco an some were willing to go out on a limb for me(division 3) but I knew I was a way better athlete and at the time I was too cocky so , I planned on attending Milford Academy. But one month after my high school graduation . I was arrested, and couldn’t leave the state before my trial so while I was out on bond I enrolled into Lincoln Technical institute and graduated , completed all my probationary terms. And within 1 1/2 years. I was back on my way to Milford Academy.
Where did you choose and why?
I chose Marshall University over Syracuse University, under then head Coach Doug Marrone, (Buffalo Bills current head coach) who recruited me personally. Also over Rutgers former head coach Greg Schiano’s coaching staff. Pitt University, University of New Mexico, and Temple University. Mostly because of the fact that Byron Leftwich is my cousin and has supported me since 1998 and went out his way to get me in-touch with head Coach Doc Holliday personally, as well as Mike Cassity I knew that was the choice for me. Even though I had talked to schools like Maryland University (which I eventually transfer to after Marshall August training camp) through the connections I had with people like my mentor LaMont Jordan, and UMD coach Michael Locksley . But the Marshall bloodline will run deep now, currently even . I am helping my youngest Brother, James LeGrant III, with his recruitment process to Marshall University although he is a basketball player in his junior year.
What were your goals for your senior year?
I didn’t complete my senior year. I ran out of financial aid. Because before I attended any four year university, I graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute for Automotive technology. So I was already $$3o,ooo. In the rear.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
Bucky Brooks, NFL analyst constantly gives me tips on how to defend the back shoulder fade and comeback routes all those types of throws. Other NFL scouts tell me, I have to become very strong because even though i have the length and some of the height , quick-twitchy (Mike Mayock) quick-footed guys are becoming outdated because everyone wants the Richard Sherman type guy. But They all agree on my studying of the game, is remarkable. I’m A guy that wants to know everything I can. For instance, My friend Joe Haden was at the pro bowl and Deion Sanders was giving him tips about opening up at 90 degree angles on press technique. And not giving up on any plays so that’s what I have been working on mostly lately. Playing every play like 3rd & 5. I’m aggressive, physical , tough, are other words that are thrown around .
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
When I’m trying to get better I watch other corners, how fluid they move,quickness and their reaction time to the ball. What are they doing that I need to be doing. When I’m scouting, I’m mostly watching Qbs like studying their mechanics. How long does it take them to call a play , try to read the defense, audible and once the ball snaps how long does it take for them to actually throw the ball . Do they stare down receivers, if he’s not open do they automatically check down to a receiver close to their original target or are they going to be able to scan the field and find a best option second target. It’s really unique , their throwing motion. Are they willing to pull it down and run, or scramble. Wide Receivers aren’t that important They are mostly just divas and want to get the ball. So if they are going to get the ball they will run half-assed routes with a half-assed release just to hurry up and get the ball. If its a run play, they won’t run a route to run you off and they’re definitely not going to block and with taller receivers with longer legs you can see their legs breaking down/gathering way faster then you could on these quick-twitchy guys.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
Alonzo Russell, of Toledo. Everyday in practice he used to make ridiculous one handed catches against dbs in practice at Milford Academy. Get us in all types of trouble. Either him or my boy, my day one LaMaar “Flash” Thomas, of the Jacksonville Jaguars . went up against him my whole life everyday in Practice. Since Oxon Hill Boys & Girls club, Pop Warner to High School , we always played on the same team everyday in practice and he has always been the Flash , since 65. But everyday I work out with my brother (Biologically) Bryan Brooks of the Baltimore Mariners arena football team. He is a 6’3 200lb Wide Receiver , way more athleticism and more gifted he is up next, no doubt and he is no slouch but I go against him so much that I’m sorta used to defending him and can contain him compared to guys I don’t see everyday.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
Tyrann Mathieu, precisely . Had some of the same off-the-field incidents . On the field same style , same position, same demeanor. Willing to play corner and safety . Match up with oversized Toght Ends and Wide Receivers, never give up on the play. And soon as we get within arms reach of that football we are doing whatever we can to get it out of there and we both will by any means necessary , not afraid to support the run even behind the line of scrimmage , really will come in and lower the boom on anybody. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight its the size of the fight in the dog” . Most would consider us undersized but absolutely not (his height, my weight. I am 6′ 172lbs.) . We both have great reaction time and can cover ground. play the ball in the air perfectly he is more attacking of the ball, I am more-so seperating the ball from the man but I have recently developed the skillset to play the ball in the air more aggressively over these past 3 years. Since I first stepped into the collegiate level practicing and training with NfL/NCaA athletes and coaches. Ultimately we will both need to continuously make improvements adjustments to playing the ball at the NFL level. But If you can remember his post-draft speech I watch that every week to constantly remind myself of how I will react once my name is called on draft day.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
Ive endured a plethora of things man. The month after high school . i was hanging in the streets too much that got me arrested, hindered my prep school process by two complete seasons. While I was finally at Milford Academy, my mother abandoned the household an ventured out on her own . Leaving my stepfather with me and my 2 younger brothers . While I was on the verge of going to Marshall University. Within a week of me starting my first collegiate training camp. My stepfather, James LeGrant jr., became fatally ill so I had to go home and help support the fam financially, about 10 months later he passed. My mother ran off with my Youngest Brothers check from my stepfathers life insurance policy because the terms were not correctly made. So after he passed I transferred to college in Maryland and I still had to sit out one season due to NCAA transferring rules. Then last January my little brother, Brandon “Luv” Catlett was shot in the face and killed. That proved to me that I must be here for a reason. Because During a bunch of my trials an tribulations of life, I would often wish I would die. Just so I would never have to suffer or feel pain ever again. But I know my brother “Luv” actually loved his life and valued it, greatly . Especially Grant, he appreciated life . So When Luv Died I said, no matter what, I would spend my life chasing my dream, and encouraging everybody I know to do the same, everyday because life is too short to not live the dreams that god instilled within me since a young kid. I will overcome them all by leading by example, showing young kids and even young adults and elders that “nothing is impossible , it’s never too late, I am just like you . Grew up in poverty too. I was once lost in the streets just like every young black male, I’ve been arrested, I’ve been probationed, I’ve been … Man when I was 21. My dog starved to death. I had to do something, or I was next. Pepco came to my house which was pre-foreclosed and turned off the electricity, in november, which is against the law. My mother tries her hardest to evict me everyday since she heard I was entering the NFL draft and she torments me everyday, My Grandmother and my Aunt love me to death. But they tell me everyday, “get a job”. They don’t believe I can do it but, I goto church everyday, active member, and read the bible everyday, so I know with god anything is possible. Without a doubt in my mind . I will make a 53-man NFL roster this year. That’s how I overcome them.
What system fits your style of play the best?
Playing cover 2. I’m great at disguising coverages and pressing / jamming and re-routing wide receivers so if I play about 3 1/2 yards off . I can disguise the cover 2, re-route the receiver , squeeze him to the next zone/LB or Safety and play the RB swinging out the backfield or a Big Tight end or another Wide Receiver that’s entering my zone. Even if its a draw play I can come up and support the Run.
What is your biggest strength?
My work ethic as well as, my intellect I can read an offense like Peyton reads a defense I can guess the play and routes before the ball is ever snapped based on alignment. Use it to my advantage call out the play for my entire defense like a middle linebacker and I hit like a Linebacker , Physical, very Physical. I can cover a wide receiver in any coverage. But if a coach wants to throw me on special teams first or even the practice squad I won’t get upset. I will go out there and I will be just as committed to my special Teams unit or my scout team Unit as I would first team or second team defensive unit. My work ethic is second to none. As I previously stated in another interview. I am not the most athletic, never been the fastest(top 4 at best), never been the strongest but I refuse to be outworked. My intangibles are amazing. My jumping ability and leg strength are phenomenal, I can Squat 600lbs. Probably more. My goal is 700 but I am only 172lbs currently.
What is your biggest weakness?
My biggest weakness is flatout speed, because you can’t coach speed and I can cover anybody in any scheme but if a 4.2 receiver has 9 seconds to run fly and the quartback has 9 seconds to find him and release a pass with no pressure really then I will be a few steps away from him but I won’t be able to catch up to him before the ball gets there and of course I can probably make the tackle if I don’t have enough time to turn my head and make a play on the ball first. But that would be probably 70+ yards down the field.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
First of all thank you for the opportunity and god bless you, I am not the type of person that will say oh I’m this and I’m that but you will never meet a harder working more motivated individual in your natural life. Unless you have had the pleasure of meeting ray Lewis already. My intangibles and work ethic, sheer perseverance and determination are unlike another athlete I have ever encountered. Honestly, if you need a cornerback or a safety that will run through a wall for you bust up a wedge for you, I’m your guy. If you need a motivational scout team hero that will lead by example and work his way up from the bottom and earn his keep, i am your guy. if you need a guy like michael thomas that youve never seen in an nfl game before and go out in clutch situations and throw me into the fire and show people he really can be an elite level player . I am Your guy. If you need a new undrafted rookie to save cap space and start week one, adjust to the NfL game and still win enough games to play in Arizona Super Bowl in 2015 I am that guy. Thanks for all your time and consideration, again god bless you.
Growing up, who was your role model?
Lawrence Taylor, “lets go out and play like a bunch of crazed dogs and have some fun” the best soundbite ever, haha I remember my first year Grant signed me up to play for Oxon hill , I started at Middle Linebacker and wore Number 56, I was ferocious too. Just like Taylor, But I loved to watch Michael Irvin celebrate. With Deion Sanders too, But ultimately when it was all said and done . Ray Lewis was and still is my guy. Born leader and role model , but other than football, I am the last of a dying breed so I watched Michael Jordan, still got his autograph in my room. And I went to endless Georgetown Hoyas games so Allen iverson was a close second all-time. Even more than Jordan because he made his own way. Proved that you could be the best and have cornrows and as long as you produce with that underdog mentality you will still prevail, so people will hate reguardless but you can still be effecient and get the credit in-due time that is well deserved. Can’t forget my aunt Brenda, Brenda White, and my lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They hated Jesus .
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
Dallas Cowboys, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin or Ray Lewis . I lost a bet on the 1995 Super Bowl Pittsburgh Steelers versus Dallas Cowboys, I was originally a Steelers fan and My mother was a Dallas Cowboys fan and we bet that the loser had to switch teams forever and that’s how loyal I am. A man of all my words. I never changed teams ever again, I was a new fan fairly so I embraced Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion sanders, Leon Lett. Larry Brown, Darren Woodson, all those guys . Even later on, Roy Williams, I was so elated into 2010 when they drafted Dez Bryant and then DeMarco Murray. Tyron Smith. I love those guys, nobody works harder than Dez in my personal opinion and I can’t wait to line up against him one day this season.
What was the most tragic event that ever happened in your life and how did you overcome it?
Between either not ever getting to play a down of college football, or My Stepfather passing away or My younger Brother Brandon Catlett getting murdered or even my little cousin, Jamal Hazel getting Murdered. My closest family members telling me they “hope I make it” but revealing their doubt about me, Maybe even my oldest cousin Terrance Martin getting sentenced to 25 years to life, for a Murder that was never actually proven guilty of its hard to choose which one is the most tragic but I would probably say the Murder of my little Brother was the one that made me open up my eyes that life was too short to not do nothing with it. Your Life is a legacy and once your gone your legend will always live on. Whether you do something with it or not, if you have a child then your child will be constantly reminded of what kind of person you were people are going to say “I remember your dad used to XYZ” whether its positive or negative and I would rather my unborn children remember me as an hall of Famer rather than a dude that just tried once and failed . I have to do something monumental like start a scholarship fund for underprivileged children.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
Mike Mayock, Bill Chaplick (who both attended Boston College together ’77-80), and My Agent Scott Bergman . I would need my favorite position coach ever Dennis Hazelwood on the phone as well though. With either Doug Marrone, or Greg Schiano on three-way. Lol, sorry.
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
With my first check, After i pay my tithes of course. I will buy a house . Either a newer bigger house for my aunt & uncle who always supported the entire family especially Me . in every way possible since I was 15. Or buy my first house back that we lost due to foreclosure when my stepfather passed away during June of 2012. Rest in Peace James LeGrant jr. With the rest I would pay for my younger brothers Bryan Brooks and James LeGrant III tuitions so they can continue their collegiate careers. Because there is no doubt in my mind that we all will make it and become nationally recognized for their athletic skills.