Jake Hlava: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Jake Hlava
School: Grand Valley State
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
The main individual goals I accomplished that I was most proud of were being voted first-team All-Conference as well as Defensive Lineman of the Year on my team. For team goals, I was happy to help our team reach the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
I watched a ton of film, especially on NFL Game Pass to learn from the best and also put a ton of focus into mobility work for improved performance as well as injury prevention. I feel like that extra work really paid off by improving on the small aspects of my game in terms of efficiency with my hands, turning corners, closing the distance when rushing, making the plays when they presented themself and understanding my opponent.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
They would talk about my relentlessness. I think they would describe me as a guy who plays with his “hair on fire” and makes things happen instead of waiting for things to happen.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
When studying opposing offensive linemen I like to focus on a few main things: First, what kind of pass setter they are. Second, what they like to do with their hands/when they like to throw them. Third, what moves have they been susceptible to/ moves that I think they are making themselves susceptible to, and lastly if they have any tendencies pre-snap that can give things away and help me play faster.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I’m a very versatile player who can impact the game in a lot of ways and is someone whose skills haven’t been fully put on display yet. The scheme I played in in college was built for more of a big body two-gapping defensive lineman whereas I see myself as more of an edge hybrid linebacker type. I have a lot of skills such as standing up, rushing from different angles, playing in space that I haven’t had the chance to display yet.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I am playing in the Dream Bowl on the 17th of January. Then, I am training at Win Performance in Chicago with Kerry Neal to help train for the Grand Valley Pro Day in March.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
I’m someone teammates are going to love being around on and off the field. On the field, because they always know they can count on me to do my job, I’m someone who can make a play and shift the momentum when it’s needed and can do the dirty work to allow someone else to make the play if needed. Off the field, I am a fun-loving guy who has a deep passion for this game and I’ve been around a lot of different guys from a lot of different backgrounds so I can get along with just about anyone. I’m also going to hold guys accountable and demand their best when we’re on the field together.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
It is going to be very hard to find a guy who is going to put more attention to detail into every aspect of his football career than myself and someone who is going to put every ounce of his soul onto that field. I’m also someone who will find a way to impact the game in a variety of ways and be a thorn in offenses sides. I truly feel like I haven’t been used in a way to allow me to play at my full potential and I still haven’t played my best football yet and all I need is one team to give me the chance to display that.