NFL DraftProspect Interviews

2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Michael Canganelli, RB, John Carroll University

Michael Canganelli
Michael Canganelli is an explosive RB at John Carroll University that also contributes as a return specialist. He recently sat down with Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Michael Canganelli
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 196 lbs
  • Position: RB
  • College: John Carroll University
  • Twitter: @Lil_Cangs

Tell us about your university/college. Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?

I attend John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. I am very proud of the tradition, leadership, and service John Carroll shows in our community and around the world. John Carroll is home to many NFL greats such as the late great Don Shula, London Fletcher, Josh McDaniels, Nick Caserio, Tom Telesco, David Caldwell, Greg Roman, and many others. I am very privileged and grateful to be attending John Carroll and to be a part of the great football program. I participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at John Carroll and also participated in an annual Jesuit Day of service with my football team. These are two organizations that focus on serving our community.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

My teammates know that I will have their back on and OFF the football field always. I truly care about every teammate and coach on a personal level and would do anything for them. They are all like family to me.   

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 one of the leaders for our team especially leading by example. I try to be as versatile as a player as possible. I believe the best part of my game is running between the tackles and catching the ball out of the backfield. I also think I am a threat when it comes to special teams and I’m always looking to change the game.  

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

I’ve played against some good players in college, but to be honest the best players I’ve ever faced were in high school. I played against Denzel Ward my sophomore year in the final four and played against Lynn Bowden my junior year in the 2nd round of the playoffs. I also had the honor to play side by side with Andy Isabella for Mayfield High School.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

I am very proud of all of my teammates and the coaching staff but one teammate that stands out to me is Nate Leopold. Nate Leopold will be a junior safety this upcoming year, and I look up to him as one of our leaders for this year. I go up against him during practice all the time, and I know that he doesn’t take a play off. He plays with so much passion and heart it’s hard to go unnoticed. 

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

After one of my best football seasons my junior year of high school, I got a lot of looks from D1 and D2 colleges. I was even invited to the Nike-The Opening Regionals Invitationals that upcoming May. I decided to run track that year to prepare for this event but ended up pulling my hamstring and had to miss it. I ended up pulling my hamstring 4 more times that lasted throughout that summer and carried with me throughout my senior year football season. Many of those colleges who were interested in me were no longer interested. The colleges that still showed a little interest would visit me but ended up losing interest once they saw I was 5’8. I even told my high school football coach at one point to not take me out of class anymore to see college coaches because I was wasting my time. I was very discouraged and resented the game of football. I wasn’t even going to play college football until Coach Finotti took the job at John Carroll and decided to take a look at me. Coach Finotti was a former defensive coordinator for Mayfield high school and I remember going to Friday night games when I was younger and his defense had six straight shutout games in a row. Coach Finotti talked to me and really believed that I could make a difference at John Carroll. Coach Finotti helped me reignite that competitive fire and love for the game. 

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

I would play baseball because I played it my whole life starting at the age of six along with football. Baseball is a great game that challenges you mentally. Baseball is a game of failure, and you need to learn to compose yourself when things don’t go your way.

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

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

I have accomplishments that I’m proud of in my past but I believe I haven’t reached my greatest accomplishment yet. I have personal goals that I still envision myself achieving.

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

My freshman year I was put on kickoff return week 10 against the #1 team in the nation Mount Union. I had two big kickoff returns that game that changed the momentum. One kickoff return was right before halftime for 65 yards and then I opened up the 2nd half with a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. I ended up breaking the kickoff return yards in a single game at John Carroll with 209 yards.

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

I like to look at and model the mindsets of different athletes. I believe there are many philosophies and different ways to be successful but a few mindsets that I model my game after mentally are Herschel Walker and Conor Mcgregor. 

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

I like listening to rap music before games and two music artists that get me really pumped up are Rick Ross and 50 cent.

What is your favorite comfort food?

I love a good pizza, but I’m italian so I need to eat from an authentic italian pizza place and not a chain pizza place. Some of my favorite pizza places in Ohio are Guidos in Chesterland and Angelos in Lakewood.  

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?

Denzel Washington is my favorite actor, and he plays in one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans.  

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

I enjoy hanging out with family and friends a lot. I like to golf, play poker, and occasionally I like to go paintballing. 

Who or what motivates you the most?

My family and doubt are the two things that motivate me. My family has been to every single one of my football games starting at the age of six and have always been there for me during the highs and the lows in my life. They have sacrificed so much for my happiness and one of the ways to thank them is to play my heart out every time I step on the field because they enjoy watching me play. Doubt also motivates me because I love to prove people wrong. I take doubt personally because people don’t know what I can and cannot do. I’m the only one who can make that decision.

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