Name: Connor Iwema
School: Southern Illinois University
Position: Wide Receiver
Q: What were some of your goals heading into your final collegiate season?
Heading into my final season, I had only a handful of goals. The first goal was to win a Missouri Valley championship. Second was to grow as an athlete both physically and mentally. I also wanted to cement myself as a notable player in my school’s history, not necessarily all stat based, but just how I was as a player. Finally, I wanted to earn the respect of my coaches and teammates to lead them into the 2017 season.
Q: If you could describe your style of play in 3 words, what would they be?
If I had to describe my style of play in three words, they’d be fast, physical, and relentless.
Q: How will you train and prepare this offseason for the draft or other pro opportunities?
This offseason, I am training speed. To play at the next level you have to be able to move. You have to be able move efficiently and precisely. Understanding how to move is extremely important and the guys here at XPE put a huge emphasis on not only training speed, but also making sure what it is we are doing to allow ourselves to move the way we are. With this type of understanding, we aren’t just becoming good 40 runners, but better football players and the speed mechanics translate to the game and not just the combine.
Q: When you are studying film, what do you focus on or look for?
When I study film, I start with figuring out base coverages and what they like to do against our favorite formations. Once I have a firm grasp on what they like to do defensively, I start to look for tendencies in players. I like to see how DBs play leverage in press coverage and how aggressive they are out of their breaks. During this process, I also like to take notes on what good matchups would be and how to get into situations to expose the gaps in their defensive coverages. One thing that always helped me in college was taking everything I saw watching film on my own into film sessions with my QBs to bounce ideas back and fourth and see if they saw the same things or things I didn’t pick up on.
Q: What separates you from the other players at your position?
I think the biggest thing that separates me from other people at my position is my route running ability and my love for blocking. I love to study Receivers and take little things I see to add them to my game and continue to get better at running routes. At the next level everyone is fast and smart so it takes a lot of thought and practice to get the separation you want with good crisp routes. On top of catching the ball and making plays that way I also have a weird love for blocking in the run game. There is something about blocking that is just the purest form of who wants it more. It brings me back to when I used to wrestle with the physicality and the 1 on 1 match up.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
Like I mentioned above, I think my strengths would include my route running ability and my understanding of the game. I embrace and love the grind that comes along with this game. People think I’m weird because of how much fun I have at practice, but I couldn’t imagine having more fun doing anything else. I think my approach to the game is contagious and will bring others along with me to better themselves as players at their position.
Q: What is your final pitch or sell to NFL and other pro league scouts?
My final sell would be that all I need is an opportunity. I came out of high school a zero star recruit with no offers and a passion for the game. I showed up to a walk on tryout the day before my first day of college at SIU and earned everything the hard way. You may not think I’m talented enough to play in the NFL and that’s fine. I believe in my abilities and I know that if I was a coach or a GM at the pro level, I wouldn’t want to play against me.