Brendan Munnerlyn is a very talented cornerback aspiring to be one of the players selected in this year’s NFL Draft. He’s a long, athletic player, fitting the mold of the very much sought after lanky, rangy corners that have been made so popular by the Seattle Seahawks. Brendan’s story is definitely one worth telling, and he is taking nothing for granted, in this opportunity in his life.
You’ve had a very unique journey to get to where you are now. How did you get here?
Yes, I had an exclusive journey here, with a few detours. I have anticipated this journey my entire life, but never like this. The other day a fan told me “man just enjoy the process because alot of people would trade places with you in a heartbeat”. Something I needed to be reminded of. I have had a few interviews, a couple of visits to NFL clubs upcoming before the draft, some scouting reports, and been in touch with a couple NFL scouts, but I was steadily stressing because, I haven’t talked to all 32 teams. Even if I spoke with one, I was already focusing on the next one. Wondering why they aren’t calling? But someone else, same position, projected undrafted, is getting love from 16 teams. So I have about 40 days and I am not going to focus on what someone else is getting but solely on what I have. I’m certain alot of people have been made aware of my past legal troubles, that almost made this process catastrophic for me but that was all during high school. I haven’t been in trouble a day since, haven’t been arrested or probationed since 2009. I do not drink, I do not tolerate drug usage. I have turned my life around, I have been reading the bible everyday since 2009. Now I attend church twice per week. I am on the verge of being baptized this spring. I have graduated from Friendly High School, Lincoln Technical Institute for Automotive Technology, ASE’s certifications to fall back on. I then attended Preparatory school, Milford Academy (the Preparatory school for Yale University). Enrolled into Marshall University, until my stepfather became fatally ill and I had to return home transferring, hoping my Proposition 48 would rollover but I was red flagged by NCAA. Before my financial aid loans caught up with me. Also, I majored in Art, all very unorthodox. But I consider my path to the draft “abstract” because people can’t really see my work being put in without squinting their eyes. Some people will glance and see another Pacman Jones, some people will see another Tim Tebow. But once the picture is painted it will be as respected as a masterpiece for everyone to adore.
What schools were interested in you after High School?
The schools interested in me were the University of New Mexico, with whom I had ties to Coach Locksley since I was 8 years old, Marshall University, Syracuse University, Rutgers University, Wagner University, Saint Francis, Stevenson, Wesley College and Geneva College. But at the time I was so naive to anything but BCS football. My misfortune…
Why did you pick Marshall?
Ultimately I chose Marshall University where I majored in Art, because my cousin Byron Leftwich had made his mark while there and became a first round selection. So I felt like I could do the same thing. Also they were willing to give me a proposition 48 opportunity, so that was a major deciding factor on any school I chose because my grades were so poor. Like a lot of Milford Academy kids, such as Travon Van, who I looked up to a lot and heard a lot about at Milford the year before I attended, so I figured if it worked for him it should work for me as well. Also, Coach Doc Holliday was really nice to me during recruiting (even though I already could sense how strict he was). That shocked me completely.
How much has your relationship with your cousin, Captain, influenced you in football?
Cap is family on my fathers side and they are all from the south, so that’s all they care about in his hometown. All of my uncles, cousins, even my aunties follow football big. But I grew up with my mothers side of the family my entire life (and my dad of course) in Washington,D.C, where we all currently reside. But my entire life has been no different, since I was at least 7. My entire family has been always heavily influenced by the game, because I was always so great at it. It was always something I wanted to do. Not only me, but my younger brother, Bryan Brooks. He followed right in my footsteps and then learned from my behavioral mistakes so then he excelled also. Cap has influenced a lot more attention to me than anything since I’ve been in the 11th grade, everybody including my own family would ask “do you think Cap is going to make it?” Even after he made it people really didn’t expect him to hang around the league for so long. So they would still ask, Now I’m pretty sure they are going to ask “is Cap a legit number one corner?”. But I’m happy for him and in that way I suppose it showed me, “just never give up on your dreams” and God will always pull you through.
Is there a player in the NFL that you currently model yourself after?
I try my best to refrain from trying to be like anyone, because I’ve been playing alongside Joe Haden since I was 8. We even went to the same high school, but I was taller and he was way stronger. (Darelle) Revis same situation, Sherman is way taller, I am more, I don’t know, quiet? But I said to myself the other day, there is no more “trying to be like Prime” or even imitating Merton Hanks celebrations, Charles Woodson, or Champ Bailey. I have to play to the best of Brendan Munnerlyn’s abilities , to Brendan Munnerlyn’s strengths and weaknesses, or I will be A, Out of the league fast or B, Garnering quality minutes on the bench sitting behind somebody else trying to be like them too. On the contrary, I have drawn comparison to Tyrann Mathieu and Nickell Robey, I respect both of their games and do see clear similarities, but do I model my game after them? No sir. I wonder if they would model their game after me?..
What’re the strengths and weaknesses in your game?
Strengths are simple, Work ethic. I am always doing my homework, my life revolves around football. Wake up, go to the track or get on the field, and in the weight room. One of the three everyday, often two of the three. Downtime, when I’m exhausted I am scouting NFL games on DVR, and the SEC championship, scouting routes, Quarterbacks, Tight ends, the Scouting combine, taking notes, my personal films, reading old playbooks and comparing them to what was I doing that day. I am past hungry, I’m starving for my opportunity and just have faith in god that when a club calls my number that I am ready, willing and able. Even coaches, I am scouting the coaches, trying to get a feel for what they are coaching their current players so I can jump right in an adapt. I pay close attention to detail, rookie mini-camps and interviews, pre-game post-game. For fun I play madden, and see how certain coverages can shut down certain routes. I watch nothing other than NFL Network, ever. It never ends, I could never know enough.
My weaknesses, I did not learn fast enough that “in order to do what you love, you must be willing to do what other people/coaches want you to do, to get on the field”. Ninth grade, I wanted to play Varsity, so instead of working harder to actually assert myself, I transferred to an less dedicated football school. Performed well, and transferred back. Even with my grades, I would make sure I had the grades to play during football season but once I knew football season was winding down or didn’t apply this quarter I would just not even show up for school. Be suspended half of the time, Weasel my way around all types of loopholes and now that has led me to not living up to my full potential. I always dreamed of winning a national championship. I wet the bed on that, no matter what I accomplish I will always recall that.
Is there a certain scheme that you’d prefer to play in?
I would just love to play either press man-to-man just about every down either cover 0 or cover 1 to really earn my keep, while becoming an immediate X-factor, someone who can play at an elite level. I bet there are a lot of prestiged veterans, and highly overrated rookie wide-outs that are just going to love to talk and that’s where I would have the best chance to keep them quiet the entire day. I love cover 2 because I can disguise it really well and I love to hit. Hitting bigger Tight Ends, smaller slot receivers, and running backs flaring out the backfield, or bouncing outside on a running play, taking on lead blocking fullbacks.It puts me in the best position to do all those things from either cornerback, nickel and safety. I would appreciatively play special teams, force fumbles on returners, hitting hard, even crack blocking gunners would be delightful to me. I’m just thirsty my friend.
What do you think you proved to prospective NFL teams at your Pro Day?
At my pro day I think I have proved that I am an elite athlete. I have the qualities needed of being an elite cornerback in the league for a long time to come. The smartest and the quickest, fast-twitched coming from virtually nowhere. Much like Brent Grimes, a player who not a lot of people knew of before he came out. Not a lot of people believed in him in the beginning of his career but he mastered the art of the technique of being a starting cornerback and became a hot commodity in the league. With my 4.5 40 yard dash performance, as well as my vertical jump of 37.5 inches . I would prove just that, even if it takes a minute for someone to see the significance of it. If I have to work my way up from the practice squad, as an undrafted free agent then I will. But whatever numbers will be posted, ultimately I just want to let God define my greatness, and just give Him all of the glory.
What does an NFL team get if they draft or sign Brendan Munnerlyn?
A team that signs Brendan Munnerlyn will get a Super Bowl ring, all expenses paid trip to Arizona in February, hopefully a Defensive Rookie of the year. Possibly NFL Man of the year, a leader in the community, an NFL play 60 volunteer weekly. Multiple pro-bowls and awards. Someone who gives back to the place he is from and the place that believed in him. Loyalty and leadership in a young locker room. The clout to say 15 years from now at my hall of fame speech “I told you so..nobody believed in this kid!..when he was making all these crazy remarks, and saying he would do all these things but I told you all !”. They will all get credited with “knowing where to look” when it comes to scouting. If a club is looking for a starting defensive back that won’t cost much more than pennies-on-the-dollar but you could plug him right in, and make minor adjustments on the fly and plan on winning it all this year, I am your guy. That’s why I honestly feel I am the best option for every team. A first round quality player, and a first class citizen. God bless.
We’d like to wish Brendan the very best in his endeavors, and efforts to reach his goals and dreams in the NFL. We’d like to thank him again for taking time to talk to us, out of his rigorous training regimen. He’s an upstanding young man, and certainly someone to look up to. As a draft prospect, he’s currently an Undrafted Free Agent prospect, but not because of talent. He’s an example of someone who, despite not having the ideal platform to apply his trade, has the potential to really shock and surprise some people this season, given the opportunity. To wrap up, we’d like to thank Brendan one last time, and wish him the best in May’s NFL Draft.
Featured image courtesy of www.nfldraftdiamonds.com