Cole Strange opens up on why he’s ready to make the NFL leap

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice
MOBILE, AL – FEBRUARY 02: National offensive lineman Cole Strange of Tennessee-Chattanooga (69) during the Reese’s Senior Bowl practice session on February 2, 2002 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

On the most recent episode of Flippin’ The Birds, the trio were joined by Chattanooga IOL prospect Cole Strange. Strange is a few weeks off of turning heads at the Senior Bowl and is a few days away from boosting his stock even more at the NFL Combine. 

Most comfortable position?

I would say left guard just because I’ve played there the most, but after playing a week at center at the senior bowl, I felt pretty comfortable there too.

You played center at the Senior Bowl, did they prep you for that?

You know, it wasn’t much [notice]. There was an estimated depth chart for what would be at the Senior Bowl. And I was at right guard and I didn’t really have much of an opinion on that. I was I’m cool with whatever, but when I got there, they just kind of told me I’m going to work at center.

We had three guys working at center and one of the three did something to his hamstring, the first day of practice in individual drills. So that cut us down to two. So I just worked at center all week. So not much of a notice, but you know, it went well, I didn’t have any bad snaps. 

Run blocking or pass blocking?

Yeah. I think it would have to be a run block. It’s kind of whenever you feel like you, you know, and anybody who’s played football, I think kind of knows what I’m talking about, or at least blocked, maybe if you run the ball different, but it’s like, whenever you feel like there’s a tipping point, you know, whenever you’ve got someone going and you know, you’re going to be able to like put them on the ground.

I guess I’ve kind of always felt like run blocking is like. Uh, it’s a matter of just heart and toughness and physicality, and just being mean as hell.

How was your experience at the Senior Bowl?

I loved it. I thought it was really cool. We worked with the Jets staff and, you know, we could have worked with anybody. I would, I would have loved it, but it is definitely, I think, a bigger opportunity for small school guys, because, you know, there’s a lot of really talented guys in FCS, but it’s, you know,  it’s just pretty plain and clear, like there’s more talent in FBS and we get one FBS game a year.

Whereas every other FBS team gets all FBS games and maybe one FCS game per year. And so like me doing well in that game means more than someone from a SEC school or a Big 10 school doing well in that game and that those days at practice. But honestly, I wouldn’t say there was any more of a chip on my shoulder.

In today’s game, it’s very unlikely a rookie lineman sits all year. Do you think you can go in and play right away?

I definitely, I feel like I’m already starting to prepare myself for that. No one really told me that, but for some reason I kind of just started picturing that in my mind.

Not even, but maybe a week or so ago of like, I don’t know how much playing time I’ll get. Hopefully it’s a lot, you know, and hopefully I play great, but I do know that, you know, whenever I get on a team, like everything, I’m doing everything I do, how I play, like everything’s evaluated.

Maybe there is a grace period for guys who come in and mess up or don’t play phenomenal, but I’m not really holding myself to that standard. I’m kind of already preparing myself of like, I can’t make any mistakes, you know? So like as soon as I get the opportunity, wherever it is, I go to get a playbook.

Like I’m going to learn, you know, from the moment I get it until like the next meeting we have, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I know it as well. You know, it was anyone. Um, we worked with down here in Pensacola, worked with Josh Sitton um, he played, I don’t know if y’all are familiar. He played with the Packers a while back and, uh, the Bears and the Dolphins, but he told us that the main reason he got on the field as much as anything was that he knew what he was doing.

You know, like he knew his playbook, like whenever other guys would go out and party or do whatever, like he would be in studying this playbook. And I don’t see myself doing a whole bunch of parties or a bunch of ridiculous stuff like that. Anyway. So I don’t know. I think I’m just like, I’m, I’m very aware of that possible.

And so I’m already preparing myself, like I can’t make mistakes. I can’t be, you know, like synonymous to a freshmen coming into college. Like I have to be extremely focused and already geared towards like, I have to earn the spot. Now, even if that isn’t the case, I already feel like that’s something that I’m gonna, you know, be trying to do.

Thoughts on being booed?

I don’t have any experience with it. I don’t think I’d be a fan of it necessarily, but at the same time, um, you know, I kind of see the, like, you know, in the NFL and the NBA,  professional sports in general is entertainment for people.

Like that’s what it, like, that’s what it is. It’s like the only reason that it’s a thing is because people come and watch and people enjoy it and people love it enough to make podcasts on it, you know? So it’s like it’s for the people. So it’s like, I’m not, I wouldn’t be a fan of getting booed, especially by my own like fans, by my own people.

But at the same time, like to be honest, like if I mess up or if I do something worth getting booed at like, I’m going to be like, I’m going to be well aware of it before anyone. And I’m not going to be like, even thinking about like, all these people are booing me. Like I’m going to be pissed off that I messed something up, you know, like if I miss a block or like, you know, I don’t know whatever it is, like you could mess up, you give up a sack.

Like, I think the last thing on my mind would be like, these people are booing me.

Your meal of choice

Um, you know, I will probably say it would have to be, it would have to be like a, just a massive like ribeye steak, medium, medium rare.

Yes. My dad has a really good grill is really, really, I just made some a couple of days ago. Oh my gosh. I haven’t had them in forever. We have a, we have like a steak and stuff here. You know, they, they feed us really well, but it’s just not really the same thing as, um, and then as far as anything with that, I’m a huge fan of potatoes.

Um, I know that, I guess it kind of does sound like somewhat healthy, but I love. And, uh, it’s not something we normally eat with it and my dad could care less about it. So he never really puts it in there, but a whole bunch of Mac and cheese. And if I could, if I could drink whatever with it, then I’d have some beer.

We appreciate Cole making time for us and being so open about his journey to the NFL! If you’d like to listen to the full interview, you can find it here

Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire