A great pass rusher is paramount to any good defense, and that is exactly what Jareid Combs is. Here I interview Mr. Combs about his football career thus far, and where he is trying to go from here. It’s easy to root for him, and I think you’ll feel the same way after reading his answers to my questions.
You can follow Jareid Combs on Twitter @Combs_Era7
You’re from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and played your high school ball at De La Salle, overall how did you like your high school football experience?
- I loved it, I’m originally from Columbus, Georgia, and I actually spent my Freshman and Sophomore year at Northside High School down there. I moved up to Minnesota and the transition to De La Salle was extremely smooth, I had a couple cousins that were there prior to me being there and they still knew everybody so that really helped. It’s is a really tight knit school, and everybody knows everybody, so it was pretty easy to get to know everyone there. As for football, I loved the team and the coaches. The transition, the team, everything was pretty great
After playing at De La Salle, you went to Iowa Central Community College, can you take us through how you got there, and how you liked your time there?
- Originally, I was planning on going to a University out of high school, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the grades to be able to do that, so I was forced to go the Junior College route. At first, I was talking to a couple other Junior Colleges and was not exactly excited about going to any of those places; I so badly wanted to go to a University. But in the summer I went down to Iowa Central and they were still there as an option for me, and I really liked Coach Kevin Twait, so I decided to go to Iowa Central.
At Iowa Central, you were a team captain. How special was that honor for you, and what do you think you learned from that?
- It was really special for me. Going into Junior College you’re playing with guys from all over the country, so I was a little nervous at first. What I was most confident in was my abilities as a player, so I just trusted in that and tried to be a leader which ended up paying off. When the coaches named me a team Captain it meant a lot to me. I loved the game so much and being a Captain made it even more special.
In your second year at Iowa Central, you recorded 17 sacks and were an honorable mention for an NJCAA All-American. What was it like playing at that high of a level?
- It felt really good. My first year I had a pretty good number of sacks but going into my second year I trained really hard still in pursuit of eventually playing at a University. Before the year I told myself and my coaches that I was going to lead the nation in sacks. Playing that well just gave me so much confidence which was really great.
Coming out of your time at JUCO, you were rated as a 3 star by 247, can you take us through your recruiting process, and how you ended up choosing North Texas?
- At first, I was being recruited by a couple of other schools, and I was seriously considering some of them; North Texas wasn’t really even on my radar. But when I talked to Coach Patrick, I really started to like them. He was their recruiting coordinator, but he almost felt like an Uncle to me. I could really tell that he wanted the best for me as a person. Along with loving him and the staff it also helped that it was down South, I like the sun more than the snow, so it being in Texas was a huge plus for me.
It was your first year at North Texas, and in your second game you were playing against the Tennessee Volunteers, what was it like going from Juco to playing an SEC team?
- Honestly, it was a crazy experience. Playing in High School and at Junior College you see all the power five teams playing on TV, so to actually be there playing against one was amazing. The game was in Tennessee and I remember just walking out for pre-game warmups, me and my friends took a couple laps around the field to take it all in. It was mind blowing to me. It was a really great feeling because it finally felt like I made it, it finally felt like I was playing Division One football. The place was packed, and overall, the whole experience was awesome.
You’re 6’3, 258 Lbs, you have a good frame; How do you try to use your size to your advantage?
- In my first year at North Texas we ran a 4-3 and going into my second year we moved to a 3-4, so the coaches asked me to slide inside to a 3-4 DE which made me a relatively small player. Using my size I try to stun the offensive lineman, because I wasn’t very big for where I was lining up, I’m not 6’6 280 like some of these other 3-4 DE’s. So, I try to use my power and my quickness to my advantage. Also, in film I tried to find little advantages where I could make up for being a little smaller.
On your Twitter you list yourself as a DE/OLB, and this year you were playing at the 3-4 DE, are you comfortable at all those spots and is there one you prefer?
- I’m comfortable at any position, wherever a team would have me. But ideally, I would play as a 3-4 OLB or as a 4-3 DE, or even a linebacker in a 4-3 coming off of the edge sometimes, because my specialty comes in my pass rushing ability. I know I only got a couple sacks last year, and playing the 3-4 DE I don’t want to say “limits” you, but racking up sacks is much harder, especially when you have linebackers rushing off of the edge and you’re going from the interior. But I learned that you gotta be selfless, do what’s best for the team, and do your job to win the game. To sum it up I would like to be used almost like a Von Miller, coming off the edge, being able to use my speed and finesse abilities to rush the Quarterback.
As an Edge defender, what is your greatest strength?
- I would say my speed and quickness, the ability to be able to beat the offensive tackle to his set point and catch him misstepping. That’s also something I gain from the film, is knowing what lineman are going to do so I can know try to set them up in a bad position. Overall, I would also say my pass rush abilities as a whole is my greatest strength, my ability to either barely get touched or not get touched at all by the tackle, I always say “they don’t touch you, they can’t stop you”.
As you prepare for your next phase of your football career, what area of your game are you working on the most?
- My coverage, and specifically my drops in coverage. I want to get more and more comfortable covering a running back out of the backfield or covering a tight end. I’m working really hard trying to do that, I’m working with some of my friends that are corners and running through their drills with them. Working on my footwork, and overall my versatility so I can play any position a team wants me to play. If I can improve my coverage ability, I would even feel ready to play some inside linebacker if a team needed me to.
From this point, what are you trying to make of your football career?
- Right now I’m trying to make it to the NFL as an Undrafted Free Agent, and I’m hoping teams have me on their boards. If I can get picked up by a team, and get into a rookie minicamp, I feel like I could prove myself. I was telling my agent if you can get me there, I’m gonna do everything I can to prove myself and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make the team.
From playing high school, Juco, and D1 football, what is one memory that you’ll never forget?
- My pregame warmup when we were playing against the University of Florida last year. I was a Florida fan growing up, so coming out of the tunnel into the Swamp and seeing the packed house, and how loud it was, it was a really exciting experience. Also, the first game of the season last year (Senior) I felt so confident, coming out there with my teammates, we were all full of energy, that was a great feeling.
What piece of advice would you give to an incoming D1 football player?
- Make sure you have your mind right, and that you take care of school. You are a student-athlete, and a student first. Also, do the right thing, sometimes these players just think that they are going to get away with something, like doing drugs or falling behind in classes, thinking “it’s okay I’m a football player”. You have to make sure you know what you’re here for. You’re here to make your family proud. You have to make sure your doing well on and off the field. It’s not about going to class being a “cool” guy, it’s about doing your work and never taking the easy route. My defensive line coach used to tell me that everyone is looking for the “easy” button but it doesn’t exist, you gotta do your work. You want family, your team, and yourself to be proud of you.
What valuable life lesson have you learned from your football career that you will always carry with you?
- I learned a lot. I learned so much about being a teammate and being selfless. I learned about taking care of others, and the importance of brotherhood. I learned that everything is not about you, and you have to do what it takes for the team to win, not for you to win. Lastly, you all gotta buy in, because you’re all in this together.
What do you want people to know about Jareid Combs / is there anything else you want to say?
- I want people to know that I am going to give everything I have, every day, every second, every minute, every hour. I’m not gonna slack off and I’m not gonna let the people around me slack off. I try really hard to build everybody up. I’m a great team player, and I’m here to make the team better, not necessarily just make myself better. I’m family oriented, and I’m gonna treat my team like a family. I’m here to play, and I feel like I can play any position on the field. I’m a great special teams player and an even better defensive player.
I will certainly be following his career and he rooting for him all the way. If he can find his way onto a roster I’ll be sure to keep you in touch via Twitter @NFL_drafthub, and maybe produce a follow-up interview!
If my work has helped your research, or if you simply enjoyed reading it, please consider donating. Thank you.