Interview with Blidi Wreh-Wilson

Blidi Wreh-Wilson speaks at the NFL Draft Combine on Sunday in Indianapolis. Wreh-Wilson, a four year starter at UConn, has been projected as high as a first round draft pick.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson speaks at the NFL Draft Combine on Sunday in Indianapolis. Wreh-Wilson, a four year starter at UConn, has been projected as high as a first round draft pick.

John F. Silver

 The NFL Combine is in full swing and several UConn players are predictably impressing with Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams having excellent days with their athleticism numbers, as expected. More on their performances after. For a primer, here’s an interview from the combine with Blidi Wreh-Wilson on Sunday.

Have teams told you how they plan to use you?

Wreh: Wilson: “The conversations I’ve been having have been kind of generic as of now, but most of the teams that have been talking to me seemed to like the aggressive, pressing style that I do playing close to people and using my size and length to my advantage.”

You can play on the ball, off the ball, in the slot?

Wreh: Wilson: “Yeah. I played a variety of coverages at UConn. I played off, I played out of a pedal, I played open, I played out of press, so I feel like I bring a lot to the table. I’ve done a lot of different techniques and had a lot of different coaching, so I feel it helps me.”

Only playing a few years of football, do you think having a high ceiling makes you attractive to teams?

Wreh: Wilson: “Yeah, definitely. I feel teams are looking at my potential as one thing, but in the short amount of time I have been playing football, my resume’s pretty good. I’ve shown a lot of good things, a lot of positive things on the field, and I have an upside that a lot of guys don’t.”

A lot of guys have been running fast 40-yard dash times. How does that make you feel?

Connecticut cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (5) breaks up a pass intended for Temple wide receiver Deon Miller (86) in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Temple won 17-14 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Connecticut cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (5) breaks up a pass intended for Temple wide receiver Deon Miller (86) in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Temple won 17-14 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Wreh: Wilson: “The track looks fast right now, so that’s a good thing for me. In a couple days, I’ll be out there.”

Do you have a goal time you’d like to reach?

Wreh: Wilson: “I do, but I’m not letting it out right now. I’ll let it out if I hit it.”

Can you play in the slot?

Wreh-Wilson: “Yeah. In our system, I wasn’t really required to play in the slot all the time. It was something we had, things I did in practice, things like that. But on the outside, basically, it was my freedom. When my coach made a call, I was the guy — I could choose to play off, I could choose to play press, any coverage. It was just kind of something that helped me out in the long run.”

What did you do when you weren’t playing football?

Wreh-Wilson: “I played soccer from the time I was 5 until my junior year. I played football in sixth, seventh, eighth grade, and I made the final transition my senior year from soccer to football. I played — freshman, sophomore, junior year soccer. I was little bit smaller, so my dad was kind of weary on the football thing, and he was kind of worried about my safety. But I made a decision I wanted to play football and he was all for it.”

Does that background help you?

Wreh-Wilson: “A lot. Yeah, a lot. The body control, the footwork — a lot of things like that transferred. You don’t use your feet really in football. You can’t kick anyone, so I guess I’d have an advantage on people if you could do that.”

Do you have a story behind your first name? Apparently Blidi means ‘trouble’?

Wreh-Wilson: “Yeah. But my dad’s a philosophy professor, so he kind of put his own little twist on it. In Liberia, at the time there was a war, so that was the trouble, and by having me, I’d be the bringer of the peace.”

So were you a problem child?

Wreh-Wilson: “Eh. I had my moments. I had my moments.”

UConn has four guys here. If you had so much talent, why wasn’t the season better?

“We couldn’t get the ball rolling. It was one thing — a monkey on our back was winning two straight games the past two seasons, and we couldn’t get that monkey off our back. And one thing is, we had one of the top 10 defenses and four of the guys here are defensive players. I mean, that’s a tribute to our defense, especially. But I mean, it’s just a good thing for UConn to have four guys here to be represented by UConn, and we’re just looking forward to showing what we can do for everybody.”

What did you measure?

Wreh-Wilson: “I was 6-foot 3/4 and 195 pounds.”

Who were the best receivers you’d ever faced?

Wreh-Wilson: “I’d say, it’d either have to be my freshman year, Mardy Gilyard. He was a problem. Ryan Broyles was tough also. And I played Michael Floyd. Played a lot of tough receivers.”

Is there a certain type of guys you struggle against?

Wreh-Wilson: “A certain type? I’d say — I don’t feel I struggle with guys. I just have different game plans for everybody. When I come up to the line of scrimmage, I like to have a plan, so if it’s a smaller, shiftier guy, I’m gonna use my hands more. If it’s a bigger guy and he’s gonna get aggressive with me, I don’t have to be as physical with him. I try to shadow him, let him take himself off the course and use my punch at the right times.”

How have you learned to use your size?

Wreh-Wilson

Wreh-Wilson

Wreh-Wilson: “You’ve got to know when to strike, because those guys are going to be bigger than you and they’re going to run into you and things like that. If you’re getting caught up in that, you might take yourself out of position. So you’ve got to know the right timing, the right placement and how to be crafty with your style of play.”

What have you heard about your draft stock?

Wreh-Wilson: “I’ve been hearing all kinds of things, but really, I’m not really paying attention to it. This is a perfect time to show what I’m capable of doing and help myself go as high as I can in the draft.”

What’s something that you want to prove during the workouts?

Wreh-Wilson: “I want to prove that — I didn’t really play out of a backpedal at UConn, and I want to prove that I’m fluid in everything that I do and I want to prove that I have elite, top-end speed.”

Is there anyone you think your game is similar to?

Wreh-Wilson: “I base my game off Darrelle Revis. The same techniques he uses we used at UConn. We watched a lot of his film.”

You took over as a starter when Jasper Howard was killed. How much do you think about him now that you’re here at the combine?

Wreh-Wilson: “I mean, it really resonated with me the other day. When I was on the plane, I actually started thinking, and on my headphones, I actually still have — it’s a ‘JH’ sticker on it, and I’m looking at it, and I’m just thinking like, ‘Man, he’s seen a lot of guys do things from the sky, and the guy that had to replace him — I know he’s watching down on me. He’s been watching down on me for years now, and everything I do, I just try to carry his mantra of ‘Live 365′ and be the best that I can every day.”

{And a beautiful follow-up:} What did you learn from coaches at the Senior Bowl?

Wreh-Wilson: “They said I had a good week. They said I had a good week and I showed some things, and the combine would be another good opportunity to show some things.”

Did they give you anything to work on?

Wreh-Wilson: “Um, no. I didn’t really get that kind of specific feedback. They just kind of said, ‘Good week, OK, we’ll see you at the combine’ — that sort of thing.”

 

 




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