Doherty High graduate and UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood became the fourth and final Massachusetts native to be selected in the NFL Draft this weekend, going in the seventh round to the Atlanta Falcons.
Smallwood, a Worcester resident, was a First Team All-AAC selection this season for the Huskies. With his selection, a record three players from the Central Mass. region were taken in a single draft. Smallwood is also the first player with origins in Worcester's Inter-High Conference to get selected since Burncoat High grad Ron Brace was taken in the second round by the New England Patriots in 2009.
Courtesy of UConn's official athletics website, here is a transcipt of Smallwood's conference call with the media:
On how the process played out in the seventh round: “I started getting some calls from teams talking about free agency and things like that. I was a little disappointed and then I got that call from Atlanta and it felt great. It was a great moment. I’ve worked hard all my life. It’s just overwhelming and I’m happy to be an Atlanta Falcon now.”
On if he feels disappointed by where he was drafted: “Like I said, I think I’m the best linebacker in this class. I had 100-plus tackles every year and didn’t have any issues off the field, as a captain. I did everything the right way. But everything happens for a reason and I’m blessed that Atlanta gave me this opportunity. “
On what he knows about the Falcons: “Their linebackers coach came to UConn and worked me out. He said he’s been watching me for many years. I felt like there was interest from them.”
On earning a spot on an NFL roster: “I’m not really worried about competition. I feel like I’m a good football player and I’m going to do what I’ve always done which is work hard and make plays. I think you have seen at UConn that I have produced every single year and gotten better every year.”
On having the chance to play with former UConn player Robert McClain: "It’s great. He’s another UConn guy so we have that little connection. I’m going to try and learn as much about the defense as I can from a guy like that and I’m ready to go to work now."
On if he regrets participating in the NFL Combine: “I still wanted to go out there and show my speed but things just didn’t go my way. They had all the film they needed to see and felt like they needed a different player and went that route.”