Here at DFF we think about every single position on the football field and look for ways to glean value out of this exploration. One of the few areas we tend to overlook when it comes fantasy football is the offensive line. I’m sure we know that a good line is invaluable to our running backs and quarterbacks, but I’m not sure it’s something we put too much thought into. In our never-ending quest for knowledge, I interviewed an offensive lineman to keep an eye on during the upcoming draft.
Michael Ivory is a dominant run blocker who will be hoping to latch on with a team either in the later rounds of the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Below I interview the former GSU Panther about his college career and NFL dreams.
The Georgia State football program was founded in 2010, what was it like playing for such a young program?
It was actually one of the main reasons I chose Georgia State, It was really fun to watch it grow and be a part of molding it into what it is today. I’m really excited that we are soon getting our own stadium instead of playing at the Georgia dome, overall I really liked the energy of being part of this fresh program.
In your first year at GSU the team went 0-8 in the sun belt, your second year you went 5-3. What was the biggest difference between those teams?
The maturing of the team was the biggest reason we were more successful in the second year; we just came in with a different mindset. We wanted to prove that we can compete at this level after not winning a game in year one. We started off pretty poorly, but we just put our heads down and kept working. Slowly but surely we kept grinding out wins, it was a really fun year.
How did your recruiting process go from Jeffersontown to Kansas Jayhawk Community College, to Georgia State?
Out of high school, I was being recruited by Kentucky, I really liked them and was thinking about going there but I learned I did not meet the academic requirements. So I ended up at Kansas Jayhawk and got in touch with coach Bauer’s who had recently taken over there. I had a great experience with my one year there. Learned a lot, got back into studies. Overall, I think it was a good thing that I spent a year there, I’m definitely glad I did. After Junior College, I still had offers from Kentucky and Texas Tech and Middle Tennessee, but Georgia State seemed like the best fit for me.
You had offers from Kentucky and Texas Tech, what made you choose Georgia State?
I absolutely loved the culture and the environment at GSU. I immediately fell in love with coach Etheridge and his staff. The players and coaches had created such a great atmosphere that was very welcoming and inspiring. I felt like I was part of a family there.
How did you deal with your season ending injury in 2014?
I struggled with it a whole lot at first, before that I had never had a major injury. I played through that game, and after the game got the x-rays and MRI, my foot was broken. I was done for the season. I took it really hard, I added a lot of weight, It was a tough dark time. It was brutal, I couldn’t walk for 3 months, I rode around on my scooter. I couldn’t go to practice, I couldn’t travel with the team. My family really helped me get through it, but it wasn’t easy, to say the least. I loved being with the team, so missing out on practices and games really hurt.
How was the transition from junior year to senior year, and left tackle to left guard?
It was a rather quick transition. In the spring before my senior season, we had a couple guards we thought we could compete. But as we got closer and closer to training camp, nobody was stepping up to fill that Left Guard role, it was like a revolving door there. Meanwhile, NFL scouts kept telling me I would be better suited as a guard moving forward, and when the coach asked me to play left guard on the day before camp was going to start, I told him absolutely I would. I told him I would do anything for the team. We had a kid by the name Hunter Atkinson come in, he was a great young player perfect for the Left Tackle position. It ended up working out perfectly. There was a little bit of learning curve moving to guard. Learning to pull more for example, but I knew the all of the plays and everyone’s responsibilities. That made the transition a lot easier. By the time the season came I was completely ready to go.
You were on the athletic director’s honor roll in the spring of 2015, what was that like to be honored in that way?
In early life, I struggled quite a bit academically. I had trouble learning and had a speech impediment. I got to high school and didn’t take school very seriously. That led to me not academically qualifying to got division one out of high school.
I got through junior college, got to GSU and really focused on academics. I saw it as a second chance, I made sure I wasn’t gonna blow it. I put a lot of focus and effort into my schooling, met with tutors often, and overall prioritized school more than I ever had. I realized that football won’t last forever, you need something for after, and academics provides so many opportunities for that. I am very proud to have graduated with a 3.01 GPA.
What was your “pro day” experience like?
I prepared really well for it, I lost some weight, and was moving really well. The logistics of the event were really interesting, though, the rain was coming in and we had to hurry up and do the outdoor events first. I couldn’t even get through my whole warmup, I was amazed at how quickly it all moved. In my 40 yard dash, I pulled my quad with about 7 yards left. That was tough. I ended up running a 5.6 and thought I could have run a 5.2 or 5.3. I had aggravated that quad about 3 weeks prior.
What else has gone on in your preparation?
I went to the regional combine in New Orleans, which was about 1 week after my pro day. I went through a lot of treatment in an attempt to get my quad and body ready for it, but it couldn’t get fully healed. So I couldn’t perform in New Orleans. But now I am looking forward to March 30th. My high school (Jeffersontown, Kentucky) will be hosting a pro day which I will be taking part it along with one other high school teammate. I think I can put on my best performance there.
What are you expecting or hoping to happen with your football career from here on out?
I hope to continue playing. I have the utmost confidence in my abilities. I just need one team to give me a shot. I want to make it as a free agent for a training camp and prove myself there. I want to pursue my dreams, and I just really want a chance to prove myself.
What do you feel is your greatest strength as a player?
My greatest strength is my fluidity with my size. I’m 6’6 328 Lbs and can move very well. I played basketball in high school and really got to improve my footwork and quickness there. “Power” running plays are where I shine the most; I just love them. I love the mentality that “we are going to overpower you”.
Where have you grown the most as a player or a person through your college career?
I have improved the most mentally. My understanding the game of football has grown immensely since arriving at GSU. Not only at my position, but for all offensive line positions. Things like being able to flip to the other side, in run and pass protection, it’s been a lot of fun learning all of that. I also have come to an understanding of defensive schemes, and what defenses are trying to do. Understanding of the game is something that I think I can keep growing in as well.
What advice would you give to an incoming D1 football player?
Just put your head down. Don’t worry about the current situation. Put in the time, and perfect your craft. Be willing to take coaching, and take practice very seriously. Focus on your strengths, but also work on the things you’re not good at. And lastly, don’t believe the hype. Doesn’t matter how many stars you are, whether you’re not ranked, or your a 5 star, just put your head down and go to work
What did you most enjoy about playing college football?
Definitely, the team and everything that comes with that, the people I was surrounded with were awesome. Seeing my mom often, doing panther walk with her, the family aspect, it was all so amazing. The community of Georgia State football is real, I enjoyed it so much. Then there is the Locker room, the plane rides, dinners, jokes, nicknames, ups and downs, wins and losses, cheers and crying. The whole experience was absolutely fantastic. And as you might expect, my favorite day was Saturday. You work all week in preparation for game day, so when it comes you can’t help but be excited.
What else would you want people to know about you?
I’m a competitor; I want to win, I love the game of football, and absolutely everything about it. Michael Ivory is coming to work, I’m going to put my head down and get to work. I expect a lot from myself and from teammates, and I can contribute to a winning organization.