New Era’s interview king Scott Porter talks with Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde in the weeks leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft.
Scott Porter: What do you feel are your biggest strengths?
Julian Vandervelde: I am a tough hard-nosed player. I was raised in Iowa, and to come to Iowa you have to be a tough player. We work very hard here, so I would say going into a camp they are getting a guy who is very tough and has worked very hard to get to where I am. I am a very smart. I was a 4 time Big 10 academic All-American, a 3 time National academic All-American. I feel I am tough enough and smart enough to play at the next level. I am a driven kid. My girlfriend always tells me that I don’t know how to fail at anything in life. I hate losing and I put in a lot of time in effort into everything I do.
Scott Porter: What are your goals for the NFL?
Julian Vandervelde: First I want to make it into a camp. I would love to get drafted but I just want to be in a camp so I get my shot to prove myself to an NFL team. Once I am in a camp and make that impression on a team I want to earn a starting job. I don’t want to be the second man. I will fight until I am starting. I want to keep getting better each year to become as good of a player as I can be.
Scott Porter: What NFL player reminds you of yourself or one that you watch a lot and can relate to?
Julian Vandervelde: I really respect Casey Weigmann of the Chiefs. A former Hawkeye himself we have a lot in common. Just seeing how long he has lasted in the NFL and his attitude and toughness that he brings to the game. He isn’t over-sized and is very tough and smart. He is very durable. He takes hits and keeps coming back and has had a lot of success in the NFL.
Scott Porter: What do you feel are your greatest football accomplishments?
Julian Vandervelde: First, earning the respect of my coaches. They have very high expectations when you come in and earning that respect is very meaningful. I can still remember the team giving out award early in my career during summer work outs. They actually gave me a roll of toilet paper. By giving that to me they told me I was smart, tough, but not to get a big head. It was a point that I was in the right direction but to keep working hard to get the most out of myself. You don’t want to get into coach Ferentz doghouse because once you do it’s over. It’s hard to get out. I stayed on the staff’s good side and really earned their respect quickly. I would also say a major accomplishment was starting for a high profile team with a great history of OL for four years. Also, I was able to stay injury free while playing here.
Scott Porter: What will you miss most about the NFL?
Julian Vandervelde: The thing I will probably miss the most is just being part of the Iowa family. I will always be a part of it. Former players and coaches always look out for each other and always remain close as well as with the fans, but I will miss signing the fight song after a win and being in the Iowa locker room after a win.
Scott Porter: What are your hobbies off the field?
Julian Vandervelde: I am a huge nerd. I would say I sort of break down the view that everyone has about an offensive lineman and the stereotype. People always think we are big dumb brutes I like to play dungeons and dragons members from my Japanese class. I like to play video games and the guitar. I also like to sing karokee. I like to keep these golden pipes warmed up.
Scott Porter: What will you be doing during the draft?
Julian Vandervelde: Well I hope I get called on the morning of the 30th. That day I will actually be walking in the March of the Dimes in Davenport. It’s a 5K walk for babies. My fiancé and I decided to do it together. After that I am going to have a draft party that night to thank my friends and family who have always been there to support me.
Scott Porter: What do you feel will be the toughest adjustment to the NFL?
Julian Vandervelde: Probably having a small team to work with compared to the huge team you had in Iowa. It’s a lot more personal in the NFL. In college you go to class, you go to football you do your homework and off to bed then you do it all over again. In the NFL you have more time and money to do these things. You can focus on one thing.
Scott Porter: Who has been your biggest influence throughout your college career?
Julian Vandervelde: Football wise I would go with Seth Olsen and Jim Goodrich our team chaplain. Olsen was the spiritual leader when I was first here and I took that role after he graduated. Seth and Jim whipped me into a real warrior for Christ. I have had a major growth in faith and it has helped me on and off the field and I thank those two guys for that. I have since handed the role off to DL Mike Daniels.