2023 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Damontay Rhem, LB, Virginia Union University
- Name: Damontay Rhem
- Position: Linebacker
- College: Virginia Union University
- Height: 6’0 ft
- Weight: 215 lb
- Twitter: @D__Rhem
- Instagram: @D.Rhem_v
What makes you a top prospect at your position in the 2023 NFL Draft?
I believe that my performance on the field and leadership qualities set me apart from others. Throughout my entire college career, I have never experienced a losing season. My versatility as a player is also a strength, as I have demonstrated my abilities on both offense and defense against Division 1 opponents, including a double-digit tackle performance (11), an interception (1), and a rushing touchdown (1). Additionally, I successfully transitioned from playing offense to defense, which highlights my adaptability and willingness to learn. As a team leader, I was instrumental in leading my team to a top 15 national ranking, while also earning recognition as an all-conference player. Overall, my track record of success and leadership skills make me a strong candidate for consideration in the 2023 NFL Draft
At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?
I always loved sports as a young child collecting sports cards. My first experience with organized football was at the age of nine.
What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?
I have a deep devotion to the game of football. I play with great effort on special teams just as if I was starting at my position. I am a student of the game and always looking to learn from veterans and lead younger players in the right direction. I believe it is important to uphold the standards of the organization on and off the field.
If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be?
One cause that particularly hits close to home is supporting individuals with Chiari Malformation. There are several organizations, such as Conquer Chiari, International Chiari Association, and Chiari Fund, that provide critical services and support to patients who are fighting this condition. My personal connection to this cause stems from my mother’s diagnosis with Chiari Malformation when I was in high school. It is my hope that I contribute to these foundations to provide assistance and relief to other families who are also struggling with this illness. September is recognized as Chiari Malformation Awareness Month, which presents a great opportunity for everyone to bring attention to this rare malformation and its impact on those affected by it.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I was ever given was from my youth league coach. “You want to score but you work for 4”. As a running back in my youth I wanted to score ever time I touched the ball. But if you get 4 yards every time that is a first down in three attempts and eventually you will hit pay dirt. I take that saying in other facets in my life. Although you expect a certain level of results from yourself it usually won’t happen on the first attempt. If you are progressing in an effective manner, you will reach your goals.
Who was your childhood hero?
My childhood hero was my mom, she taught my that you must get out your comfort zone and even sacrifice wants to elevate in life. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Daily consistency creates a standard for yourself and those around you. She instilled in me to be a leader and never follow. My friends, teammates, and community gravitated towards me for those attributes.
Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school?
The most underrated teammate in my locker-room I’d say was edge rusher Noah Livingston. Last season he taught me and other defenders block shedding techniques that allowed us to improve our game. He always has a desire to get better spending time with me after practice working on rush moves. Although he didn’t get the playing time expected he was always cheering the loudest and brought great energy to game day.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeves are lying and excuses. Problems are never as big as they seem initially. People more willing to help if you are up front and honest. Excuses are a tool of the incompetent, and normally utilize when you don’t feel like doing something. That something could be working for your good or put you in a position to elevate in life. Excuses are used to break consistency and I’m big on consistency.
Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome?
As my family and I transitioned from lower to the middle class, there were occasions where we went without functioning utilities and relied on community resources such as food banks. As a young man, those experiences created days of helplessness and insecurity that I had to overcome. Times I did homework by candlelight and took pride in submitting my assignments because it was the one aspect of my life that I could exercise control over. This experience laid the foundation for my “control the controllable” mindset. In retrospect, I believe that this is why I am particularly intolerant of excuses. I have come to appreciate that personal growth and the ability to overcome only stems from facing adversity, adversity builds one’s character.
Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you?
Virginia Union University holds a special place in my heart due to the multitude of real-life experiences I encountered while there. As a small institution, we were forced to rely on one another for emotional support when faced with the loss of teammates and students. The football team at Virginia Union adhered to the mantra of “Play 411”, emphasizing that we were not only for the 11th game of the season, but for all 11 individuals on the field. Our commitment to playing for the betterment of the community, as well as representing those who came before us, allowed us to create opportunities for future generations of young men and women.
What is your favorite snack food?
My favorite snack are strawberry pop-tarts and almond milk. As a teenager I peers would ask how did I get my physique? I always say “Push up and Pop-tarts”!
What is the best part of football?
The best part of football are the relationships created through the journey. Every season has a story and has so many moments that resonate in the hearts and minds of teammates and fans. Football teaches life skills in real time. Instilling hard work and dedication without a promise of the result. Life and football areabout the journey, not the destination.
If you could sell yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
I am born to play the game of football.
If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be?
Football IQ/ Savvy: Troy Polamalu
Game Speed: Fred Warner
Leadership: Ray Lewis
Size comparison: Nick Bolton
If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why?
- Mike Tomlin: He is the head coach of my favorite NFL team. I would ask him what he looks for in his players and coaching staff. I would like to know how he has upheld the success of the organization. As an African American Head coach how does he continue to have one of the longest tenures in the league.
- First ancestor to land in the Americas: I would like for them to see what I have made of myself and what characteristics we share. Their survival created the opportunity for me to be here.
- Jesus: I would wash his feet and to touch the hem of his garment.