Sports

NFL on radar for Demetrios Brizzolara

Third-year Demetrios Brizzolara has broken three modern era school records this year, adding to his grand total of nine school records. The Maroon caught up with Brizzolara to talk about his records, his pro prospects, and what it is that makes him tick.

Chicago Maroon: Do you know who had the old records and how old they were?
Demetrios Brizzolara: Clay Wolff just broke them both last year, so they were both from last year actually (laughs). So that was kind of funny to break his.

CM: What do you think is your biggest asset? How have you been able to do so well at football?
DB: I guess I would have to say speed. As they say, speed kills. It really helps when you can just run by people; you don’t have to put any moves on or anything. Especially my first two years because we just threw the ball deep a lot, so it was just like “Go run past everybody and catch it.” Really simple.

CM: So were you recruited coming out of high school?
DB: It was actually between here and Case where I was going to go play football. Coach Coughlin recruited me here; he’s not on our staff anymore but he was a great recruiter. He was the only coach to tell me that I could start right away. I had everyone else tell me, “Oh yeah, you can fight for a job,” and he was like, “No you can start here.” So that made it kind of easy.

CM: When did you become the primary receiver?
DB: I don’t know. That’s hard to say, because my freshman and sophomore year Clay Wolff was still here, and obviously he was great: He broke records, he was a really good receiver for us, and we both got a number of touches. I think every year he had more receptions than me, but I had more yards. So it was split.

CM: What is your mindset before games?
DB: I don’t really focus on any particular thing. It’s just all how you feel before the game, I guess. You know, some days you feel it and some days you don’t. Some days you’re going to go out and play great; some days you’re not going to have such a great game. It all just depends on the conditions, like, I hate when it’s raining out. I mean it doesn’t mean I’m not going to play hard or anything, it’s just something to think about right before the game. So I guess it’s just all how you feel.

CM: Are you receiving any extra attention or anything as a result of your records?
DB: I don’t think so. I mean I’m getting an interview with you (laughs). No, nothing really. People say congratulations. Right after I broke it I had a bunch of congratulations. I got some Emails from players—one of the guys was someone who played here in the ’70s. He emailed me just, “Great game,” and stuff like that. That was kind of cool to see. But other than that, no, nothing really.

CM: How much practice and work do you put in to make sure you can be the best you can be?
DB: A lot. I think most of the work comes in the off-season. Practices are just to keep your mind sharp. To actually physically get better,  I think the best thing to do is to get into the weight room, to get stronger and of course working your legs helps you get faster. I do track, too; I do that purposefully just to get faster for football. I like track, but it’s not a main focus. It’s always just trying to get faster so I can be better at football.

CM: How much better have you gotten from your freshman year or from high school to now?
DB: Exponentially better. It’s really surreal to see the change that I’ve made, thinking about how I played in high school to how I play now. And one thing that makes it real is the times in track. Like the 55 [meter] from freshman to sophomore year, I dropped a tenth and a half [seconds], which is pretty ridiculous. And that converts pretty well to a 40 [yard sprint] for football, so if you think about how much just faster I’ve gotten. My skill set has grown tremendously from the coaches we’ve had and the players like Clay teaching me, so I think I’ve just grown a lot and become a better player since high school.

CM: So what are your chances of making the playoffs?
DB: We would have to win out. If we don’t win out, there’s no chance of us making the playoffs. But if we win out, it’ll be the same situation as last year, and we’ll just have to wait and see. Last year we were the first team out, so that was kind of disappointing, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

CM: What are your plans after college?
DB: I would love to continue playing football at the highest level I possibly can. I don’t know if I’ll be able to. We’ll see. Obviously all of that will come later on in my career here. But if not, I think I’d like to go into consulting. One of my friends on the track team who graduated a few years ago does it and he says he loves it. He says there’s a lot of travel involved. I never really get a chance to travel, so I think I’d like to do that, just to experience some new things.

CM: So are you hoping to play in the NFL?
DB: I would love to play in the NFL. I don’t know how real that is right now. Coach Maloney has a lot of ties to the Canadian Football League. He thinks I’d do really well there because it’s really spread out; it’s really fast-paced. I don’t know much about it; I’m more for American football. I don’t know; we’ll see. I’d just like to get my chance. I’d like to get invited to some combines, do workouts, stuff like that. If I just get my chance, I’ll be happy.

CM: What do you think are the chances that you’re going to enter the NFL draft or try to enter the league undrafted?
DB: Very high. I’d love to do both. Like I said, it all depends on if scouts come to the games, if after my senior season I get talked to by scouts or anything like that: people coming up to me and telling me, “Hey, you might be able to play at the next level.” Like I said, I just want a shot, though. I’m not measuring this by if I make it or not; I’m measuring it by how well I do when I get my chance.

CM: Is it your goal to enter in the NFL, or would it just be cool if you were able to do so?
DB: Yeah, it’s definitely my goal. I would love to; I think that would be a great career path as opposed to just going and sitting in an office for the rest of my life. But who knows if I’m good enough to make it, if I can make it, if I’ll stay healthy—that’s a big thing.

CM: Have there been any other UofC players since they went down to D-III who’ve played in the NFL?
DB: I don’t believe there have been. There’ve been some who’ve gotten attention. I remember one of my former coaches, Coach Tammelow, was invited to the Senior Bowl, which is a big deal for Division III. I’m sure he got pro looks. I’m not sure if Derrick Brooms—he was a really good receiver here, he held a bunch of records, still has a few—I’m sure he got some recognition, as great as he was. But I don’t think anyone has actually played in the NFL.

CM: Is there any team that you’d want to play for, or do you not care?
DB: Maybe back from my hometown, the Cleveland Browns. But we’ll see. I would play for anybody, though, obviously.

CM: What’s the outlook for the rest of the season?
DB: I’m just hoping we can win the UAA, do the best we possibly can, and see if we can make playoffs.

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