Mackenzie Balanganayi: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Mackenzie Balanganayi
School: University of Wisconsin Whitewater
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
My goal was to get back to back All-Conference, All-American, and WIAC Defensive player of the year honors. I accomplished all of those while also receiving D3 Region 6 defensive player of the year.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
Personally, I took advantage of my extra year of eligibility by taking an extra year to rehab my knee. In the late 2019 season, I suffered from a torn ACL/Meniscus so the COVID-19 year was a blessing in disguise for me. I was also able to put on 10lbs of muscle mass in my extra year of weight training. In the fall of 2019 I was 235 lbs. Going into the fall of this season I was 245lbs.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
I think my coaches and teammates would say that I am a relentless worker and I’m like a sponge when it comes to learning a new technique. I was a stand up edge defender in high school. When I came into camp at Whitewater, it took me under 2 weeks to learn how to play with my hand on the ground.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
I try my very best on focusing on very small details when looking at my film. When it comes to pass rush, I like to focus on my ball get off and the angles I take at the offensive tackle. When it comes to attacking the run I prioritize my hand placement and leverage and try and improve on those.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get on roster. If my job for the next few years in the pros is to give the starting tackle or tight end the best look possible on the practice squad, then I will accept that role with grace and do it to the absolute best of my ability.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I plan on training at NX level sports, an established performance facility in Waukesha, Wisconsin. There have been various athletes that have gone to the NFL through this training facility, including all 3 Watt brothers. I will be doing all of my combine training and position training with these high profile coaches.
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 am a very accountable and reliable person. I believe I would bring positive energy in any locker room I am a part of and will uplift everyone around me, not only with my words of encouragement, but by setting the standard for high work ethic and accountability to myself and my teammates.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
I started playing this game my freshman year of high school. In under 4 years of playing the sport I was able to draw the attention to lower D1 FCS/MAC schools and high level D3 programs. In another 4 years I was the best defensive player on one of the best teams in D3 football. I still have so much to learn about this sport and have yet to reach my peak level of play.