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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Jalen Dennis, SS, Missouri Southern State University

Jalen Dennis the hard hitting strong safety from Missouri Southern State University recently sat down with Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
Jalen Dennis the hard-hitting strong safety from Missouri Southern State University recently sat down with Draft Diamonds owner Damond Talbot.
  • Name: Jalen Dennis
  • Position: Strong Safety
  • College: Missouri Southern State University
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 200
  • Twitter: jalendennis5
  • Instagram: jbills7_

What makes you a top prospect at your position in the 2023 NFL Draft?

I believe what separates me is the versatility I bring to teams and defenses. Throughout my college career, I have played 5 positions and have excelled in each. I have played multiple coverages and have shown the ability to play them all at a high level. I have earned the ability to be a 3-year captain and bring a level of intensity to the people around me in order to play this game.

At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?

I would say around the age 5 I really started to like playing football with older brother Amani Dennis. We would play 4 football games in the matter of 2 hours. We loved the competition, being able to hit each other and juke each other out. This is around the time we were able to get enrolled in our hometowns football program.

What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?

I believe that one thing NFL teams should know about me is that I have a relentless drive to learn. I have always pushed myself to understand defenses in a whole and not just my position. Throughout my career I feel like this has worked as a strength for me because I was able to play more positions from it and I have an obsession with knowing everything within that system to a tee. I always make sure I make the little details my biggest emphasis and being able to become a technician within the system.

If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be?

I would donate to cancer organizations. My mom was diagnosed with Bone Marrow cancer a couple years ago and I understand the level of fear that can come and the toll it can have on some families. I will do whatever it takes to ensure the strength of families and anyone going through treatment to know they are not alone and have a system in place to help them throughout their journey.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

The best advice I have received would consist of not letting external factors or beliefs diminish or affect internal beliefs. I have been blessed to have family and friends around me who have shown me what it truly means to be confident within yourself and know that if you work extremely hard and stay dedicated to what you love to do no one will ever be able to take that away from you. My family has shown me what it truly means to believe in

yourself and understand when you put your mind to a task you will do whatever it takes to complete it.

Who was your childhood hero?

My childhood hero is my mom, she is the main reason why I am the person I am today. Growing up was not the easiest of situations but she always found a way to attain a better life for my brother and I along with being able to provide for her family in rough conditions. She has shown me what it takes to persevere through adversity and being able to set her mind to a goal and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. The courage and relentless effort towards that goal is how she raised her boys and I couldn’t be more grateful for the mother that I have in my life.

Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school?

I would say me, the reason I say me is because I have always been doubted and I have always been overlooked. Ever since I was young I was always a star player on the team but even then people will find ways to try to shoot me down and take away my football ability, my work ethic, my relentless effort for getting better and my leadership skills. I have always been the underdog even when it doesn’t seem like it and I know one day this underdog will shine.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I would say my biggest pet peeve consists of not doing the things we can control. These things consist of effort, attitude and passion. We all play the game of football in different ways and for different reasons but those three things should never change and should always be at 200%. Those are very little things that we can bring to the table every day. I make sure whenever I step on the field those things are turned up to the highest notch possible.

Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome?

I believe the hardest moment in my life would consist of losing my best friend in college. He died in a JetSki drowning accident and ever since then my mentality has changed. In my college career I have lost four people, my mom was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and many other things that have been huge moments of adversity in my life. When my best friend passed, I bottled everything in and really struggled to continue to find purpose and being able to continue on without him. I really started to rely on my family to give me strength and help me understand that I was going to see him one day. They used to call him and I the dynamic duo. He was the lightning and I was the thunder on the field. We both pushed each other to levels that we didn’t think it was possible and we still do. The first year we played football together was the age of 5 and a big reason why I transferred to Carthage college was because of him. Him being gone has allowed me to be extremely grateful just to wake up this morning and have the ability to show how much I love and care for the people around me and I will do so until it’s my time.

Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you?

Something very special about Missouri Southern State University is the coaching staff. My safeties coach, Coach Leppke, has been a coach that has always been very blunt and honest. I’ve known him since junior high school and he has always wanted me to play for him. He has given me the opportunity to come play for Missouri southern state and finally make this happen. All the coaches at Missouri Southern State have a deep passion for their players’ success as men and football players. I am extremely grateful and excited to make the most out of this opportunity coming this fall.

What is your favorite snack food?

I would have to say my favorite snack food would be oatmeal with bananas and brown sugar. I don’t know what it is about this combination but I cannot stay away from it. I also like it because it is very good for you besides the brown sugar but it’s alright it still gives me the flavors that I love.

What is the best part of football?

I believe the best part about football is that it teaches you a lot about yourself and what you can bring to other people. I believe it’s a great tool for life and gives people the ability to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the team and for the person next song. It gives me an intense responsibility to ensure the people around me understand that everything we do matters and that we have to take one day at a time in order to achieve the goal we want in the future.

If you could sell yourself in one sentence what would you say?

I am a person with a relentless pursuit to become the best version of myself every single day.

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be?

I would say Jamal Adams, the reason I say Jamal is because the level of intensity he brings to the field. His style of playing, his versatility with being able to do multiple things to help expand defenses I feel like is a lot of what I do for programs. The way he carries himself on the field and does whatever it takes to win. He sacrifices his body and lots of opposing teams now that no matter what they do they will get hit hard. When I get on the field, I am a different person. The one thing you will find out is that no matter where you are on that field, I will find you and I will hit you as hard as I can. I will make sure that you understand there’s no way around that and it will last all four quarters.

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Three people I would have dinner with would consist of Courtland Cornelius (a best friend who passed away), Tom Brady, and Kobe Bryant. These three guys have shown me throughout their careers and life what it means to be a pro and what it means to be a leader. They have shown me the level of responsibility and courage it takes to be the athlete they chose to be. It shows me the level of internal belief in confidence through hard work it takes to become successful in their own way. Their mentality and ability to believe when no one else would has given me examples of what it means to write your own story.


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