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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Cole Thurness, WR, Chadron State

Cole Thurness is an explosive weapon at Chadron State who’s a very quick WR and special teams ace. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Cole Thurness
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 215 lbs
  • Position: WR
  • College: Chadron State College
  • Instagram: cole_thurness2

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
I loved going to school at Chadron State. Since it was such a small institution, it allowed me to build a very strong bond with my professors in the classroom and out of it. They were always available outside of their listed hours to help me with assignments or questions I might have for other classes. Another thing that always made me smile was how much they followed the football team and knew how we were doing in our season. I could always sit down in their offices and talk sports with them while I was working on getting my class schedule set for the upcoming semesters. I majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. I thought that having a minor in psychology would go well with my Criminal Justice degree and possibly give me an edge in the hiring process for the sheriffs departments I want to apply to. I am now working on a Masters in Organizational Sports Management. I hope to complete this in the next year and a half. The reason that I chose that masters program was to give me the option of going into coaching, as well as learning how to control conflicts in different situations. I am a part of the group called Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SACC). We get together about once a month and talk about how new rules could be implemented into different sports and also how we can involve the student body more at our sporting events. I also had the privilege of being a part of the Blue Key Honor Society in my undergrad for two years. 

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I think if you asked a teammate, they would say that my best quality would be that I am never satisfied. There is always something inside of me pushing me to improve myself in the weightroom, to the field, to even life. I want to be a role model on and off the field and try to help others as much as I can. I understand that the more individuals I can push to better themselves the more success we will have during our seasons.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
My role is a very important one because I am one of our go-to WRs. If something goes wrong, I need to be able to help the offense out of bad situations by getting open and making plays. I also play on all of our special teams except our field goal unit and our field goal block unit. I want to be on the field as much as possible to show my teammates that they can count on me. I try to lead the team in tackles every year on special teams and have achieved that two out of my four years of playing. As of 2020, I have 40 career total tackles. Special teams are a very important part of the game and I think that every big playmaker should be a part of those units to help change the game. 

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
One of the best players I ever faced in college would have to be Dixie State’s DB Alex Lilliard. This was the last year they were in our conference before they moved up to 1AA. That was a great game to play in because of the atomposhere their school brought. Another big reason that game was so much fun was because they were making a documentary about Dixie State making the transition from D2 to 1AA and so they filmed our game to put into the film. Lilliard held me to only 24 yards that game on 8 catches and one touchdown. I felt that I could get enough space to make a jaunt down the field. I definitely watched a lot of that film after the game to help teach myself what I could have done better to make more space and make myself a better option for our quarterback.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
The teammate that impressed me the most would have been Tevon Wright. I always tried to emulate his game because he always knew how to get over top of defenders and get off press. He had fantastic hands and somehow always came down with the ball. Right now, he is playing in the Spring League and is actually the leading WR for yards and touchdowns. He holds the single season record for touchdowns at Chadron as well as career touchdowns. I hope to break those in this upcoming season to prove to myself and others that I have the same capabilities that he did while he was playing with me.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
A struggle that I was able to overcome was when my grandpa passed away during my sophomore season. My family and I drove to Iowa from Rapid City, South Dakota to be at his funeral on Monday and be with family on Tuesday. Then, we drove back through the night so my brother and I could finish practice the rest of the week and play on Saturday. There were a lot of emotions floating around my head and it was hard to focus throughout the rest of the week with school and practice. I just knew when I stepped on that field on Saturday and crossed that line everything would float away and my grandfather would have the best seat in the house to watch us play.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I loved baseball in high school and always thought it would have been fun to try and play that in college. I had already signed to play football before the baseball season and blamed that on the reason for not getting reached out to, to play in college.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I think my biggest achievement so far is graduating with a bachelors and working towards a masters degree. Some other achievements that I am very proud of is holding five records in the weight room for the WR category. I hold the vertical, squat, hang clean, 40 yard dash, and pro agility records (Vertical-39.5”, Squat 515 lbs, Hang clean-335 lbs. 40-4.48 laser. Pro agility-4.02 laser). I was also recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) committee and awarded NSCA All American weight lifter for the 2021 season. In the 2019 season I was a Second Team All Conference WR as well as a Second Team All Conference punt returner. This upcoming season, I hope to break Tevon Wright’s career touchdown record.

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A post shared by Cole Thurness (@cole_thurness2)

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
The most memorable play of my collegiate career happened against Texas Permian Basin. We were down by three I believe, and our punt returner for that season had tweaked his hamstring at the start of the second half, so he was out of the game. I returned punts in practice, but never thought they would throw me in during a game. I was so nervous before I went out there because I had not returned punts since high school, and even back then I always thought it was terrifying. In college the players are coming at you a lot faster and have a lot more weight on them. I told our offensive line GA at the time that I was just going to fair catch it and then I wouldn’t have to worry about getting smacked. Well, the first time that I was heading out there to return our defense had backed up Permian Basin’s offense inside their own ten yard line. Of course our punt return unit was going to try to go for the block which meant that I was probably going to have very few blockers for me. As soon as the ball was kicked, I saw it was low and that I would have enough time to field it and make a man miss. I remember, clear as day, catching the punt, making a man miss, and racing to the corner of the end zone. I couldn’t believe that my first return in college would have been a touchdown. It was a dream come true.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
My favorite athlete is Julian Edelman because I love how explosive he is getting in and out of routes. He runs a ton of crossing routes and is not afraid to go over the middle and face contact for a catch. He also isn’t the tallest person on the field but uses his quickness to his advantage. I try to emulate that as much as I can. I watch a lot of his film on YouTube in the summer during my field training to pick up tips on how to improve myself.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
I don’t really have a favorite artist because I kind of listen to everything. I always start off with a bunch of country music during meals before the game and move into more fast paced indie rock when I go out on the field to warm up. Then, while I am getting dressed after my pregame warmup I just listen to whatever the team speaker is playing.

What is your favorite comfort food?
My favorite comfort food is definitely lasagne. I could eat that for every dinner meal if I wanted to.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite movie would have to be Gladiator. My favorite TV show would be Mind Hunter because I love how they investigate old criminals to try to figure out what drove them into committing their crimes. My favorite actor would have to be Bruce Willis or Russell Crowe.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I picked up golfing when I got into college and have gotten a lot better over the years. I am very proud of where I am now compared to where I started. I think golf is a huge mental game and being able to control my emotions in between swings has really helped me on the field keeping my emotions between the whistles. In the springtime, I also try to help out with farms around the community when they start branding their cattle. It’s nice to get a great meal out of it other than our school cafeteria. I would probably say no to any secret talents. I am a pretty normal easy going guy.

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
I play football because of my love for the game and the thrill of competition day in and day out. You can never let up because there is always going to be someone else out there putting in the same amount of work you are. I also play football for my father. He had the opportunity to play for his father in college and earned quite a few honors throughout his career. I am chasing those same honors that he was able to achieve and hopefully continue my career into the next chapter after college.

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