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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Alex Pihlstrom, OL, University of Illinois

Alex Pihlstrom the offensive lineman from the University of Illinois recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds scout Justin Berendzen.
Alex Pihlstrom the offensive lineman from the University of Illinois recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds scout Justin Berendzen.
  • Name: Alex Pihlstrom
  • Position: OL
  • College: University of Illinois
  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 302 lbs
  • Twitter: @aphistrom45
  • Instagram: @aphilstrom0

What made you decide you wanted to be a football player?

What made me decide that I wanted to be a football player was my dad playing for the University of Minnesota and always watching games with him or having him being one of my first coaches. We both shared passion in it as I grew up learning the game and how to be a great teammate in all sports.

What are your favorite moments from your football life?

My favorite moments from my football life have always been the pre game meals the night before the game. Being apart of the offensive line, it is usual for all of us to sit together and just to share a bond with those other guys the night before a game is really special. From this year, it was really a special year all around, from being a ranked team for the first time in the seniors career to having a lot of recognition of our guys at the end of the year both in the Big 10 and nationally.

What are you looking to achieve as a football player going forward?

As a football player, I’m just looking to achieve being the best player I am capable of being. I’ve only had 3 years playing the on the offensive line, and I’m just excited to learn so much more in my career going forward and just learning from some of the greatest minds in football. I’m looking forward to just working towards getting better every single day.

If you could hang out with any football player past or present for a day who and why?

I grew up a big Tony Gonzalez fan and just always tried to mimic what he did when we were out playing football in the backyard. I would love to just sit down with him and ask him his experiences in the NFL and what worked for him to be successful for so long.

Which one of your family members inspires you the most and why?

My grandpa is one person that inspires me the most because he always taught me to do my best and to never quit in everything I do, which I continue to see from him every single day. I was happy that he was able to see my last college game in Tampa and just to see how happy he was watching me play.

What is your favorite offensive scheme and why?

I love smashmouth football and being able to run the ball on a team. It gives you so much confidence to see a team wearing out from the run while you stay consistent, getting better as the game goes on and they start to get tired. It gave us a lot of success this year and we were able to throw the ball successfully as well because teams would be focusing on the run so much.

What should we know about Alex Pihlstrom the person?

The stuff that you should know about me is the amount of preparation I put into the game in order to be successful on the one day of the week that people get to see us perform on the highest level. I’ll never forget something a coach told me is that we spend the whole year preparing for 12-18 days of the year which makes me want to make each one of those game days something special. Why not put your all into it to prepare for those 12 -18 days. I want to make sure that I do everything I can to be the best come game-day.

What stands out about your film the most?

I think physicality and versatility stands out on my film the most. I’ve played all positions on the line and understand each position which helps me to understand techniques better as well as what a defense may be doing at different position. For physicality, I want to just keep breaking the person’s will across from me one play at a time. There is always going to be a winner and a loser from the play, and I’m looking to make the person across from me not want to play against our line anymore because we play so physical.

How do you handle challenges both in life and on the football field?

The thing that we always said in our room was “the mountain doesn’t care”. Things aren’t always going to go your way in life and no one is going to feel sorry for you that things aren’t going your way. It is up to you to keep pushing through to reach your goals and the top of the mountain, which is your goals and dreams. This also comes as the “Walk-On mentality” that many walk ons like me know. You are not going to get any recognition coming in but you have to come in and earn your respect, whether that be on the field, in the weight room, or in the meeting rooms. Hard work matters and it is important to put your head down and work everyday.

What would a team get in a player like you?

A team is going to get a player that is versatile to play any position that is needed for the team and to be done to the best of my ability. This comes with on the field training, or watching film and picking up little techniques that will help come game day. Physicality is something that is important to me and to control the line of scrimmage to help our playmakers make plays.

What do you love the most about the game of football?

The thing I loved about the game of football the most is the relationships that you make with people that make not look like you, act like you, but you guys are all coming together for a common goal of winning a championship. It is hard to win in most things in life, but to put in that much work with players, coaches, and support staff overall is just so rewarding in the end and you create friendships for life.

Who is the most underrated player you’ve played with and why?

The most underrated player I have played with is Mike Marchese. He came in as a walkon with me and he has been on core 4 of special teams ever since our freshman year. He’s gone from safety to linebacker to tight end, because that is where he was needed the most and he wanted to do what was best for the team. I was so happy to see the success he had this year because he has put in so much hard work that goes unnoticed.

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