NFL DraftProspect Interviews

2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Markel Johnson, DE, University of New Haven

Markel Johnson the speed rusher from the University of New Haven recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds Draft Guy Jimmy Williams
  • Name: Markel Johnson
  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight: 237
  • Position: Edge Rusher
  • College: University of New Haven
  • Twitter: @MarkelOmariJ

Tell us about your university/college. What was your major/minor? How is campus life?

At the University of New Haven, it’s a small school, you’ll usually know everyone at the school within a month. I’m a Sports Management major with a minor in Hospitality.

What do your teammates say is your best quality? 

That I’m a quick learner and being funny. When watching film, learning a new task or pass rush move, I pay close attention to details and get it down quick. Also, in situations on and off the field I always lighten the mood with my humor.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?

I see myself as a versatile player who can play multiple positions in different scheme, but I’m best at rushing the passer and setting the edge in run defense. I’m willing to play any role on a team, I love special teams and if a team even want me to play offense I’ll do it to the best of my ability.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

Wes Hills, last year in the second round of the playoffs he opposed his will against us, He was doing whatever he wanted.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

Khalim Cisse, he’s a Junior right now. He made a huge leap in his play in the off season. He put in a lot of work and became a really good player and it shows in his stats, it motivated me to work even harder.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.

Coming from Jersey City, NJ there is a lot of violence that goes on there. There were times when my friends and/or family were going through certain situations from being in that type of environment and the only way I could keep myself at peace and out of trouble is by working out or playing basketball, it made me into a better player.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?

I’d be a basketball player. I would’ve took basketball more seriously if I knew I was going to grow to be 6’4. Basketball is really big in New Jersey, when I’m home I can go outside and get a pick up game in any part of the year.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I’m most proud about the fact that I’ve been able to inspire people that are younger than me, to believe that if they work hard enough they’ll have a chance to be whatever they want. I always wanted to show them that anyone can be great, you just have to put a lot of time and effort into it.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career?

I still remember in one of my first collegiate games I blocked a punt on punt return. That was when I was on almost every single special team unit. When I got in I was nervous and we were trying to block the punt, so I got into a sprinter stance and I said in my head “I’m just going to run straight as fast as I can and whatever happens happens.” I ended up blocking the punt and we scored against AIC.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?

Kobe Bryant. Growing up I loved the way Kobe paid attention to details. He was willing to outwork anyone and everyone to get where he wants. Some of the workouts he would do was crazy and no one was willing to do what he did and that is what would set him apart. He fell in love with the work and that’s the way I want to be with football. I try to model my game after Khalil Mack, he’s the reason why I became a pass rusher before I was a running back. There is nothing he can’t do on the football field and I love it.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?

Meek Mill. He is the only artist that can get me hyped up before a game. When he talks about being counted out it hits me hard.

What is your favorite comfort food?

I love eating Mac and Cheese and candied yams. The mixture of the two is so good. 

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?

In Batman Dark Knight Rises, I really like Bane. I liked how he was a person who no one would ever expect to become as big and powerful as he was. He was born into a bad situation and he made the most out of it and became bigger and badder than anyone thought he’d be. I feel he is the most relatable villain.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

I just hang out with my friends. We’ll usually go to workout or play basketball.

Who or what motivates you the most?

I love helping people so the ability to inspire and help people just like me and to reach my full potential.

Damond Talbot

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at

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