Prospect Interview: Isiah Hennie

Isiah Hennie is a small school prospect from Sacramento State. Isiah played wr/st & was electric whenever he had the ball in his hands. With 4.4 speed & the ability to juke & cut by defenders he’s almost a mini Dante Hall out there. He really understood how to put defenders in a bad spot making it that much harder to touch the slipperly player. Hennie not only has playmaking ability, 100 rec seasons but also showed off a tremendous football I.Q.

Get to the prospect a little better below.

 

1) Can you talk a little bit about your past to present? And tell us a little bit about yourself?

It is crazy because my life kind of made a full circle being born right outside of Sacramento, leaving to southern California for most of my life and ending up at Sacramento State. Aside from Southern Illinois, CSU- Pueblo, and prefered walk on spot at San Jose state, Sac State was the only place that showed genuine interest in me. I had a fantastic senior year catching over 100 passes and breaking the San Diego section record for catches in a season but I was very undersized only weighing 140 soaking wet which is what scared a lot of teams away from offering scholarships.

My home life included my mom, two sisters, brother and best friend that I hold very close to my heart. Constantly bouncing around from family-friend’s home to family-friend’s home can get overwhelming as a kid, and they are what kept me grounded. My father was not a part of my life so I had to “grow up” faster than I wanted to, however my mom did the best she could at allowing me to stay in sports and chase my dreams. Went to 8 different schools, I’ve seen some things I wish I didn’t have to and that close family life is what ultimately helped me make that decision to stay as close to home as possible while playing college football for free.

 

2) When I break down a player I look for traits that translate to the next level. What are your traits that translate to the NFL?

Traits of my game that I can bring to the next level is great route running, and electric spark for an offense and special teams as well as intelligent football. I had a great understanding of mismatches in defensive schemes and always have a good feeling of what the defense is trying to do to me. Of course I love making plays and having the ball in my hands but if I cannot get open then I cannot do what I do best which is run after the catch, so I emphasize getting open and knowing what the defense is doing.

 

3) Can you talk a little bit about pre-snap post & snap and what you’re looking for from the defense and your man?

My tells are depth and width of every player affecting my route.

Pre snap reads are safeties first. I read how many they have to eliminate any coverages. For example a single high safety eliminates traditional cover 4 and cover 2 looks so I would be expecting a single high coverage. After reading the safeties I look over to the corners depth, width, and eyes to pick up possible variations of coverages based on the 1 or 2 high read I already took. Example I take the safety read and he is in the middle of the field by himself. I’m thinking cover 3 or cover 1. Now I look at the corners and they’re facing inside at the quarterback and opened up around 6 or 7 yards and that would be a tell to cover 3. After my initial read of both the safeties and corner, since I spent a lot of time in the slot I look at the Apex defender, safety and backers to pick up potential signs of a blitz or inserts in coverages if the Apex is head up over me and there is a safety directly behind him maybe only a couple yards deeper, then I can expect that apex defender to blitz and bring a field or boundary scrape. If all these are signs along with the pre snap reads of the one high and the corners facing in then I can expect 3 fire zone blitz and the safety dropping down to re-route me.

Post snap is the final picture I look quickly to the safeties to confirm no rotation or changes, then depending on my route attack the backers, apex or second level defenders to find holes in the zone and get open.

 

4)Do you model your game after any certain players?

Big time. My attitude and “short man syndrome” I picked up from the great Steve Smith. He was really one of the first small guys I got to see really shine at my position and he did it with a swagger of Heart over height which is a big deal to us little receivers out there. I also loved Chad Johnson’s route running foot speed and control in and out of breaks and so foot control and placement has made my game what it is today.

 

5)Like many players in college you had some struggles early on. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you grown from it?

Entering college, my only true father figure who was my grandpa had passed weeks before attending my first training camp and that sparked behaviors in myself that I did not recognize. I was showing up late to meetings and missings workouts and it spiralled into me breaking curfew while out on the road in 2015. After being suspended from the team indefinitely I had a huge self examination that I had turned into some one that I was not proud of. I cried to my mom and it did not hit me until DeAndre Carter currently with the 49ers called me and ripped me a new one. After that I knew I had to get my act together. I changed my mindset from entitled player on scholarship to the “ day in day out hard hat worker” I did everything right from then on out. I knew I had to go through a tough time and reflect to examine what I wanted out of college football. I apologized to the team and worked everyday until the team saw it fit to vote me team captain for the 2016 season.

 

(Follow Up)

Can you talk a little bit about your mentality now as opposed to before?

My mentality is always work twice as hard as the next man. I’m undersized and so working twice as hard is not necessarily for success but just to obtain an opportunity. And when that opportunity comes never confuse effort with results.. a hard working mentality is always great in this sport, but if you don’t capitalize on the opportunity that you’re given, you only let yourself and teammates down. So not only working hard, but capitalizing on opportunities and execution are all necessary for an exceptional outcome.

 

6)Who’s your biggest off-the-field influence and why?

DeAndre Carter. He mentored me throughout college and had a big impact on how I attacked the game of football from the film room to the weight room, especially in the later years of my college career. Off the field is of course my mother and Grandfather. Two of the strongest people I know. My mom fought for our lives week in and week out at jobs that did her wrong and finding roofs to put over our heads when we did not have a care in the world. My grandfather told me all the time what I should and shouldn’t do to improve my game. He never let being blind in the later years of his life slow him down and he showed me that regardless of circumstance you have to stand tall and work.

 

7)What was the biggest off-the-field obstacle you had to overcome?

Myself. Early in college I was notorious for putting myself in bad situations and clawing to get out of them. I now have done better to completely avoid situations that would put me in harms way or be detrimental to my image, my family’s image, or my team/organizations image.

 

8)You’ve made quite a few big plays in college. Can you take us through the process and what goes through your mind?

First is always catch the ball. It is so simple and easy to forget. And when I start running the ball I always want to be running forward. I have been burned too many times in the past trying to make too big of a play. I love letting the game come to me. Making the first guy miss is essential to my game, and I’m not running too many guys over even though i’ll still try so using the defenses speed against them over pursuing the gain extra yards by finding cut back lanes and exploding through them. Seeing the whole field before having the ball. I always want to know where the defense is at the time of my break, for example on a slant ball where is the defender guarding me. Is he on my up field shoulder; my back hip or have I completely separated from him? After accessing the position of the first defender I have to make miss, it’s all about openings and acceleration. How fast can I run through that small opening and pick up extra yardage. Playing mind games and setting up defenders is something i like to do too just to make one less guy that I have to get around, like I will run at him and bounce out towards the sideline knowing I have a guy out there that can get enough on the defender to spring me free for a couple extra yards.

 

9)Regardless of competition what are the most important traits for a wide receiver?

As a receiver the most important trait as a receiver is easily pass catching. Seems like a no brainer but there are so many schemes and concepts to get any one of your receivers open on any given play versus the right coverage. Also knowing when it is time to make a play and when it is not. Now you would want your receiver to make a play every time they touch the ball, but yelling for the ball is not going to make the QB throw you the ball more. Letting the game come to you is the best for a receiver. Example receivers getting stripped for trying to do too much after they catch the ball, or being so hyped and ready to make a play that they end up running the wrong route. Being smart and catching the ball are easily the two biggest traits as a receiver.

 

As a punt returner, you need guts. You have some of the best and fastest athletes sprinting at you while your face is to the sky, of course it’s nerve racking. That being said speed, guts and the ability to make someone miss is essential for punt return. With everyone running down towards you, once you pass one potential tackler then it is safe to say you probably ran past two or three pretty quickly.

 

10)I know you have some off-the-field interest and . can you talk a little bit about that and who are your favorite artists?

Funny story actually. In the locker room we had (“LRL” Lockerroom Rap League) where we would rap battle each other. One of my ex-teammates is an inspiring artist and he needed features on songs and so I felt like I could rap so I helped him out and we made some pretty good songs aside from the fun ones we made together.

My favorite artists consist of Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Mozzy, Boogie, Meek Mill, and Nipsey Hussle

(Follow up)

If you could work w/ any artist who would it be?

And if I could make a song with anyone it would be Kendrick or drake for sure. They’re just so talented in their work that I would love to sit in and watch them work on something we produced together.

 

 

11)What is your favorite TV show?

I’m more of a movie guy, but as for shows I love the Good Doctor. It’s a show about a doctor who has a pretty legit autism. Autism has a special place in my heart because I used to take part in a program where we would assist special needs kids in learning to play basketball. My buddy was a high functioning autistic child name Ben.

New girl is also a favorite show of mine, along with “the Office”, “Martin” and Fresh Prince.

 

12)What area of your game do you have to improve upon the most?

One thing is always size and blocking. I did a lot f cut blocking in college and considering that this is how people are going to make money and feed their families cut blocking and taking a players knees out is something I want to stay away from as much as possible. I don’t like seeing knee injuries, but I will cut block if I have to.

 

13) Besides your obvious skill set, what do you bring to a team and locker room?

I’m a leader and I am “glue guy”. I’ve assisted in turning around two historically failing programs. In 2012 High school my team had not won over 5 games in a 10 game season since 2004, and with a new coach and me becoming a key guy in the offense we won 5 games and made it to playoffs. The next season I worked extremely hard for a high school kid in the sport and went on to have one of the best seasons a kid could have, while leading a program who 2 years ago was 3-7 to a section championship. In college I did a similar job. There was a tear between the coaches and players and after two 2-9 seasons at Sac State My fellow captains and I took it upon ourselves to bridge the gap between coach and players.Encouraging m friends and teammates to just buy in. Just commit to the process and we went from 1-7 in the big sky to 6-2. I’ve been on a few turn around teams and I know what it takes to turn teams into the right direction.

 

14)What is your official height weight and position?

5’6 ⅞ 159lbs. A week before pro day I was 166 but the nerves building up to that day made me stop eating for a couple days. I can handle football but this was the biggest interview of my life and with people everyday asking you how you’re going to do got to me. I have since settled down and got my weight back up.

 

15) Have any teams contacted you?

My agent Tyrone Barnes is handling all talks with teams right now. I’m just training and doing my best to be ready when I get a call.

 

 

16) If you were sitting down in a room with an NFL GM and coach what would you want them to know?

That I am a worker. I work harder than those who I’ve played against. I love the film room and just watching football. My grandpa told me im smaller and I will have to work twice as hard just for opportunity and I’ve take that to heart big time. And I play this game with a lot of heart and passion. I take on guys bigger than me  all the time and I love everything about the game of football. They are going to get a pure route runner, a quick learner and a glue guy!

 

17)Who are some of the best players that you played against?

Taron Johnson from weber state

Fred Warner I’ve played with since we were in our pop warner days and he’s always been legit.

Terrell Burgess my little brother. To this day he is one of the best up in your face corners I have faced, but I think he just knows my moves. But a very skilled corner/safety at University of Utah.

Ernest Jenkins, he is a very smart and savvy corner. He’s always had good understandings of what stems are coming at him and how to take away routes from the receiver.

Darnell Sankey. Dude was just a monster.

DeAndre carter and Garrett Safron. That was the purest connection I’ve seen since being in college and it was a beautiful thing to see.

Kyle Lewis. The most athletically gifted player I’ve played with strong and speed combo is unmatchable.

 

18)What’s the most important lesson you learned from football, practice?

Responding to adversity. Football is a man’s game and not everything is not going to go your way. How do you respond to being down in crunch time or when you don’t perform your best. Being able to get back up and adapt that next play attitude is hard to do but don’t make a bad play worse by letting affect your next one. Bouncing back and elevating your game for that next moment is the best lesson anyone in this game can learn.

 

19)Where do you learn the most, on the field or in the film room?

The film room for sure. On the field it is harder to understand what exactly you did wrong regarding a specific route.  But in the film room I can actually see myself doing things I can fix for the upcoming practice/game. If you don’t visit the film room consistently then you limit your learning tremendously. I learn a lot in the film room, what to expect from corners and DBs in their techniques and how to attack them. Visualizing the openings before I get on the field is big in my learning and preparation

 

20) It’s obvious you watch tape in a passionate about the game. Can you talk a little bit about how you learned from in-game experiences and specifically beating cover-3?

Weber State my junior year I felt I could play well against them because of the film. We were watching and picking up on their tendencies in 3rd and long situations and they loved going into 33 double cloud. This is a variation of cover 3 out of a 4-2-5 in which both corners sit in the flats and both down safeties bail out and play deep 3rds as well as the 1 high safety in the middle of the field. So for our 3rd and long I suggested running a deep option route to go to the slots in order to sit in the zone of where the down safety vacated right in between the linebacker and the flat defender(corner). I didn’t execute the play but right after that play I learned I couldn’t push straight at the designated area because it would lead defenders there, so later in the game the same play was called for the same coverage and instead I pushed straight up to hold the linebacker’s leverage then broke out to the open area.

 

To beat Cover 3 you have to control the seems. If you can’t control the seams and their quarterback is staring down receivers it will only seem impossible to capitalize on a clever Cover 3 defense. My favorite Cover 3 beaters are curl flat Concepts to run game on the flat Defender making him choose. A comeback route to push the corners depth and drop a pass right over the flat Defender. Or 4 verts looking the safety off and taking one of the two receivers on the hashes

 

I want to thank Isiah again. Going into an interview I’m grateful for any answers & a chance to talk with a prospect, so when a player goes in depth it’s special. That’s why we’re here, to learn. And Hennie was kind enough to go into detail with many answers. He is a very poilte, smart young man who was nothing but nice. Seems like genuine guy. Wish him & his family nothing but the best!

 

Check out Hennie’s highlights below

One Response to “Prospect Interview: Isiah Hennie”

  1. steve earle says:

    Wow, perfect definition of elusive. Looks fast as well but don’t expect he will be drafted. Like to think he could come in as an UDFA because McDaniels is one of the few OC’s that could find a nitch for this kid. His size is his limiting factor but boy is he exciting with the ball in his hands.

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