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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Devonnsha Maxwell, DT, UT-Chattanooga

Devonnsha Maxwell is an impact DL for UT-Chattanooga and one of the top small school prospects this season. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
Devonnsha Maxwell is an impact DL for UT-Chattanooga and one of the top small-school prospects this season. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Devonnsha Maxwell
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 295 lbs.
  • Position: DL
  • College: University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
  • Twitter: Devonnsha
  • Instagram: Devonnsha

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?
My experience as a student was kinda different. There was a bit of a culture shock when I first moved to Chattanooga. After a couple of semesters, I finally felt like I adjusted well with the relationships that I was able to make. I recently graduated with a degree in Psychology. I’m looking to start some graduate level classes in the fall, working towards a masters. I was able to participate as a teacher’s assistant this past Spring, helping incoming freshmen.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I have an extreme work ethic. It doesn’t matter what it is, I will do the same as everyone else on the team. I’m highly unselfish and will do whatever it takes to win.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I’m one of the team leaders, and I bring guys along with me. I’m the tone setter on defense who is expected to make a great impact every game. I pride myself on stopping the run and forcing teams into a 3rd and long pass situation. Teams will often double team me, and I’ll have to do the dirty work. I’ve lined up on the DL from the 4i to zero. At UTC, we often play a 4-2-5 defense, and I shift around throughout the course of a game.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
One of the teams that was very persistent putting face-to-face and running the ball well was VMI. Yet, I had my best competition on our team.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
The best guy that I’ve had to face in college is Cole Strange. We helped each other grow, pushing each other to be the best. Cole is a very aggressive player who uses his hands well. I’ve also been fortunate to have McClendon Curtis as a teammate. He’s a big, powerful man that I expect to have a huge breakout year.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
In 2020, I was home for the summer, enjoying my time with family and friends. Right after my birthday, unfortunately my grandma passed away. She was someone who I expected to be around forever. We were very close. I spent several summers at her house. Dealing with her loss hit me very hard. I knew that I had to continue playing football, but going back to school was rough. I’m fortunate to have a lot of great teammates that were able to pick me up when I wasn’t feeling that good. Having football as a distraction helped me grieve. I was able to focus on the bigger picture and fight through my emotions.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
I’m a big fan of basketball, and would probably play that. I threw shot put and discus a couple years in high school. It’s very hard to see myself playing any other sport but football.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
First of all, I’m very proud that I was able to graduate college. I’m a first-generation graduate in my family. I’ve made All-Conference every year since being a starter. I’m also a 3-time All-American and was named 2021 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
I had 2 excellent games in 2021. I had 5 sacks against ETSU who’s mostly known for their run game. Another game that was really good for me was when we played North Alabama. By the 4th quarter, I had finally found a move that worked. I ended up with back-to-back-to-back-to back plays where I sacked the quarterback 4 times in a row. The first one was called back due to a penalty. So, that one didn’t officially count. They just kept leaving me one-on-one with my man, and they couldn’t stop me.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
I’m a Celtics fan and really enjoy watching Carmelo Anthony. He’s just a smooth player. My favorite football player is easily Aaron Donald. He is just unstoppable, hands down the best player in the NFL. He always shows up and makes plays. He’s shown that despite all the early doubters about his size, that he can dominate the game.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
Gunna is one of my favorite music artists. I enjoy listening to his songs before a game to calm me down.

What is your favorite comfort food?
My mom’s mac & cheese, collard greens, fried pork chops and cornbread.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
Being from Georgia, one of my favorite movies is ATL. Some of my favorite TV shows of all-time include Martin and the Golden Girls.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I consider myself a bit of a gamer and play games like Madden and NBA 2K. I consider myself a bit of a handyman. I also have my own line of merch that people can buy: https://www.stadiummerch.com/collections/devonnsha-maxwell

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
I play because I love it. My initial experience was when I was a kid playing with my friends before I started playing competitively. Once I hit the field, I was a DL from the start. I enjoy everything from the game: the practices, the workouts and all the time spent with my teammates.

The person that inspires me the most is my mom. She became a mother at a young age with twins, and since then has put her dreams aside in order to raise all 5 kids on her own. She’s fought through a ton of adversity, giving everything that she had just so we were taken care of. She motivates me to be the best football player and man that I can be.

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