Name: Zack Mesday
Q: What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
Going into my final season, I set out to solidify myself as a starter, play mistake free, and become a better pass rusher. Looking back on the season, I definitely feel that I accomplished all 3 goals. We had a lot of competition at defensive end, where 5 different players could start on any day with no drop off in production. I took great pride in earning the starting job, knowing how loaded we were at that position. Playing mistake free has always been something I focused on because if you’re going to beat me, it’s not going to be from me beating myself. Throughout the entire season, I committed 1 penalty. Finally, becoming a better pass rusher is something I worked really hard on. Being that I was shorter than the average defensive end, I know I could use my leverage to my advantage. I watched a lot of Khalil Mack pass rush film and noticed that he doesn’t do anything fancy. He just runs through your face and wants you to try and stop him from doing it. I started worrying about closing the pocket and affecting the Quarterback, rather than feeling like it needed to be a sack every single time.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
One of the most physical players on the field at all times, I like to run through people rather than trying to run around them. What I lack in size, I make up for in instincts and tenacity. I rarely make any mental mistakes and you will always find me running to the ball, regardless of where it is on the field.
Q: When you are studying film, what do you focus on to improve your game?
I like to focus on offensive line cues as well as the running back alignment. For the most part, every offensive line has at least one player that will give away whether it is run or pass. Once you figure that out, you already have an advantage on whether or not you should bear down and set the edge or tightening your stance up and preparing yourself to get off and pass rush. I also like to see running back alignment because that will usually tell you where he is going. For example, if he is level 1 (in front of QB) and away from the tight end, then it’s going to be an outside run to the tight end. There are other subtle cues that I like to look for, but I feel pre-snap alignment will give you all the information you need to know about an offense.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
The biggest thing that separates me from other players is that I know what it feels like to have the game taken away from me. There are a lot of players who take the game for granted and have the mindset of it being okay to take plays off because there’s a lot of game to be played. I approach every play like it is a life or death scenario and I have to win that rep to continue. I might not win every rep, but winning every single rep is the standard I hold myself to, regardless of the game scenario.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I have been training at two different facilities, one for strength training and one for my speed/agility work. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, both facilities have been shutdown because of health concerns. Fortunately, my trainers have been working with me daily and sending me workouts to do. I built a weight room in my basement, so I’m able to do all my strength training at home. As far as my field work, everything is still shutdown, including all parks and athletic fields, so I make do with any patch of grass I can find and do it there. This lockdown will help me separate myself from others because it will test a lot of players in terms of if they really want to train or are they using it as an excuse to take days off.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
As stated before, my strengths are that I’m always around the ball, I rarely make mental mistakes, one of the most physical players on the field and I’m consistent. Off the field, I’m always trying to help those around me and if I see something that could potentially help a teammate the first thing I do is tell them what I saw, so they will be able to elevate their game as well. I’m willing to do whatever I can to help the team, regardless of how little or big my role is. If I’m starting on defense, I’m not taking plays off and I’m not letting someone take my spot from mental mistakes. If I’m not playing much of defense and my role is to rush the punter on special teams, then I’m treating those punt reps like my life is on the line. You’re going to get the same player on every play regardless of what my role is.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL or any other pro leagues?
I have been thrown every obstacle in my playing career and have overcome every single one. I didn’t have a single scholarship offer out of high school, so I did a prep year and earned myself scholarship offers. I tore my ACL not once, but twice and came back stronger than before. I went through 3 different coaching staffs and was asked to change positions, I ended up becoming a starter on a defensive line that was loaded with potential NFL players. I’ve never had any off the field issues and I have never missed a workout, regardless if I was able to participate or not. It doesn’t matter what is going on outside of football, I don’t let it impact my play. The only negative any scout or coach could say about me is my size. With that being said, there has never been a time where my size has affected my ability to do my job on the field.