Mike VanHoeven: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Mike VanHoeven
School: Eastern Michigan University
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
In my final collegiate season I set the personal goal of being the best center in the MAC and help lead my team to a successful season. I was able to play at a level that allowed myself to be named PFF First Team All-MAC as the best center in the conference, and helped lead EMU to another bowl game.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
I was able to improve both physically and mentally in the extra year of eligibility that we got. I got stronger in the weight room, more athletic on field tests, and worked tirelessly on footwork and technique all offseason, making sure to bring others in my position group along with me. I also spent more time studying film, both of my own and watching hours of NFL tape of guys like Ryan Jensen, Jason Kelce, and Frank Ragnow to try to learn more and better myself. I also spent more time breaking down schemes and fully understanding more of the ins and outs of the offense, learning more about what the “skill” positions did and how that would affect us in the interior.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
My coaches and teammates would say that I am a very smart player who is able to make checks with confidence and help make sure the offensive line, as well as the whole offense, is on the same page. They would also say that I am someone who works tirelessly to improve my craft, staying after practice almost every day throughout my 6 seasons at EMU to work footwork, snaps, technique, and mentally run through plays to make sure that I am the best player that I can be.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
When I am studying my own film, I look at what I did right as well as what I did wrong. For example, if I have a bad play, I will first look at my footwork and see where I may have overstepped or perhaps had a false step that put myself in a bad spot. I’ll then look at my pad level, and see if I just stood up to much or if I am low enough. Then I’ll look at hand at hat placement, seeing where I could improve on this – did I miss my punch? Is my hat backside when I should have gotten to the frontside number? When watching opposing film in preparation for a game, however, this is different. I will look at defensive scheme, what blitzes they like to bring, what line stunts they do, as well as what each individual player I will face does well. Then I will look for structural cues that could give away a certain stunt or blitz that I could call out in the game to make sure we’re ready for it. I will then look for alignment changes and stance cues in the individual players that could tip off what they are about to do. I take diligent notes of all of these things and study it to make sure I am fully prepared for game day and am able to play at my highest level.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
There are a few things that separate me from other prospects at center and the other interior offensive line spots. First, I am comfortable hopping around and playing anywhere on the interior. I have the size, length, and athleticism to do so, and also have the football IQ to switch around and not miss a beat. I am also a very smart player and a student of the game. I was First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2021, in addition to being second team in 2020. This translates into football as well, and I am very comfortable learning different schemes, reading defenses, knowing how our scheme may change from week to week depending on who we are facing, and knowing every in and out of the offense. This allows me to make calls and checks both in the run game and the pass game that many other linemen would be flustered or panicked trying to figure out. I am also extremely dedicated to my craft, and have consistently spent extra time after nearly every practice of my college career working in the corner of the field on footwork and technique. This dedication is not going anywhere, and I will work tirelessly for my entire career.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I am training at Michigan Elite Conditioning for Athletes in Novi, Michigan. I also got the chance to compete at the Tropical Bowl in Orlando, FL earlier in January.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
My strengths, like I talked about earlier, include mentally being able to fully understand scheme and break it down to my advantage, both in a film room setting and on the field making calls and checks. I will consistently put myself and the rest of the offense in the position to succeed. I also have the size, athleticism, and ability to move and play wherever I am needed. Off the field, I am still dedicated to football and will work outside of the facility to do that, I will work to give back to the community, and will work to be a leader in the locker room as well.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
My final pitch to any league or team that is looking at this is that I am the kind of guy you want in you locker room. I will work as hard as I possibly can to be the best player that I can be, and I will be an incredibly unselfish, team first kind of guy. I have had to put in countless hours of extra work to become the player I am now, and I will continue to keep this same work ethic for my entire career. I will not stop working. Ever.