NFL DraftProspect Interviews

2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Zach Abercrumbia, DT, SMU

Zach Abercrumbia the former Rice grad transfer defensive tackle from SMU recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Zach Abercrumbia
  • Height: 6’2.5”
  • Weight: 295
  • Position: DT
  • College: SMU/Rice
  • Twitter: @abercrumbiazach

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

• Born and raised in Dallas, TX.  I love the culture and the historical significance of the city specifically the area I grew up in- Pleasant Grove- taught me many lessons and helped propel me to where I am today.

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

• Strength and Conditioning: The reason this is first for me is this is how you produce.  An adage says, “You sink to the level of your training.”   you must ensure that your body is ready to endure training camp, a 16 soon to be 17 game regular season, plus playoffs.

Film: This is just as important as strength and conditioning.   Film is where you are going to gather information and receive feedback on your own games, and areas of improvement.  Furthermore, it is where you learn your opponent their scheme, tendencies, player weaknesses and strengths, and what the game plan is to attack them.

Practice: This should be taken as importantly as the first two.  This is where you hone your game and prepare for your opponent.  Also, this is where you get into “football shape” in pads, helmet, and the elements.

What do you worry about, and why?

•Being a father of an 8-month-old son I only worry about the safety and security of my family.  Outside of that I try to leave everything in the hands of my creator who I have the upmost faith in to turn any test into a greater testimony.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

• My time at Rice University collectively we had a hard time finding a way to close out games, and because of that our win loss total suffered tremendously. We won 11 games in my 4 seasons there, and my mission as a leader and team captain was to leave Rice better than I found it.  Then, I learned I would be expecting a son and to provide a better life for him I had to make some difficult choices the first of which involved leaving a place I put my all into for the last 4 years of my life.  It was a hard transition; however, I would eventually triumph at SMU in my hometown of Dallas, TX.  I started 12 games and was a part of a historic season for the 2019 Mustangs.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

• Consistency 

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

• I can’t pinpoint one player, however there were a lot of collective offensive lines that I respected including LSU and Stanford.

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football? 

• I would be an entrepreneur and my focus would be health, fitness, and wellness

Room, desk and car – which do you clean first?

• I keep them all clean, but definitely room first.  I can’t sleep for 8 hours a night in a dirty room, it wouldn’t feel right.

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

• I would choose to save a family member.  I know it would probably sound better to save the strangers but seeing as how we just had to go through one tragedy there is no need to purposefully lose a family member and go through another.

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

• I would be “John Q.” (Denzel Washington).  His character laid down his freedom/life for his son to live, and I wish to live my life in such a manner that if ever faced with the same situation I’d do the same.

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

• The death of my brother changed me in too many ways to count.  I was 17 when he passed, and he was almost a superhero in my eyes, and he didn’t even know it.  The biggest thing that taught me was you never know when the last time will be the last time, don’t regret or leave anything on bad terms.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

• Cannot think of one.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

• 2017-2018 season we were playing Pitt at Heinz Stadium.  Right before half one offensive lineman made a remark about our pass rush game the previous play that I didn’t like, but instead of jawing with the guy the very next play I hit him with a stutter swipe to sack the QB and finish out the half.  I normally move on after I evaluate my performance in a game, but that play got replayed a few times that week,

What song best describes your work ethic?

• Perfect Timing –Nipsey Hussle

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level? 

• Adaptability would be my greatest trait.  In my college career I played for 3 head coaches, 4 defensive coordinators, 4 defensive line coaches, and 3 strength coaches.  Despite that I started 41 of my 53 collegiate games played and received many pre and post season accolades.  I also, just completed my 3 full season and had no offseason surgeries.

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

• My brother for many reasons, but most importantly to see his beautiful kids and how big and smart they have become.

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it? 

• “The Palate” because we will have whatever you have a taste for.

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

• Calvin Anderson and Emmanuel Ellerbee were both former teammates at rice and I have seen firsthand their drive and work ethic, so I’d choose those two.

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

• I’d rather respected because being likability is fleeting, but respect will last a lifetime.

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

• Mike Vick was the favorite player of almost all the kids on my little league team, including me.  I could only imagine what an uninterrupted career would have looked like for him.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

• I hate to lose and even beyond that I just look at every loss as a lesson to learn and get better from.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

• My parents have been the biggest influence on my life.  They taught me about the real world early because of the environment I grew up in as well as the significant age gap between my siblings and I (I am the youngest by a 10-year margin to the oldest).  Furthermore, they made sacrifices to make sure they put me in the best situation they could to ensure I live the best life I could.

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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