Jets Special Team Ace, Nick Bellore Interview
Nick Bellore played college ball at Central Michigan. After going undrafted in 2011, he trained on his own throughout the entire NFL Lockout. He signed with the Jets for Training Camp and ended up making their final 53-man roster. He is one of their key Special Teamers, and totaled 19 tackles during his rookie season. Check out this interview was conducted after the 2011 NFL season.
Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Nick Bellore. Bellore played collegiately at Central Michigan from 2007 through 2010. While he was there, he completed his career with 471 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 9 pass deflections, and 5 interceptions. He entered the 2011 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. He trained throughout the NFL Lockout, and when it ended, he was called up by numerous suitors. He signed with the New York Jets, and he ended up making the final 53-man roster. Here is the interview with Jets LB and future Special Teams ace, Nick Bellore.
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Bellore : It started with Facebook and I think Twitter is a big tool nowadays. I try to be as friendly as possible. I try to do whatever I can at games. I’ve been to a couple of events. Santonio [Holmes] had a fundraiser, and I went out at and met some fans there. It’s fun.
Strauss : What was it like growing up playing sports and when did you start?
Bellore : I started playing soccer and that was my first sport. Then, I started playing baseball. I was just okay at both of those. Probably around like when I was ten, I started playing hockey and I really enjoyed that. I was being asked to travel all over and play at different places and many areas that you wouldn’t normally see. It was plenty of fun with the teammates. Then, in the seventh grade I started playing football while I was continuing to play hockey. I played hockey up until my freshman year of high school, and then it was just football.
Strauss : And, what was it like playing high school football?
Bellore : It was a great experience with the guys that you keep in touch with through high school. We were okay, not a great team. We were a smaller school, but obviously those are some of my best memories of football. It was a great time. I played with some good players.
Strauss : What was it like to get recruited to Central Michigan? I know that both of your parents went to college in the state of Michigan.
Bellore : It was pretty quick because I didn’t get recruited by a whole bunch of teams. I went to the University of Michigan’s football camp the summer before my senior year. Some of the Central coaches were there and they kind of offered me on the spot, I committed about the week after that. It was pretty quick and I wanted to get it done before my senior year. I was locked in to go to Central Michigan with Coach [Brian] Kelly who’s now at Notre Dame. He took the job at Cincinnati over Coach [Butch] Jones who is now the Head Coach at Cincinnati. I graduated early and got there for the spring semester for college at Central, but it was a pretty quick and painless process.
Strauss : What was the transition like at Central Michigan (CMU)?
Bellore : I don’t think it was that bad. I got in there and got to workout with the guys. I always was a stronger kid so that gave me some confidence. I was able to lift with all the guys, so that helped out initially. Once spring ball started, I had to work my way up a bit, but by the end of it, I was able to be the starter. From then on, it made everything a little easier. It was not too big of a jump, just like from college to professional level, guys are a bit bigger and a bit faster.
Strauss : You had a tremendous impact during your freshman year, does any particular game stick out from your freshman year?
Bellore : When we played in the Motor City Bowl against Purdue, I had a pretty good game. That was probably one of the best games I played in college actually.
Strauss : Do you remember any plays specifically in that game?
Bellore : About the 2nd play of the game, I intercepted a pass and returned it down to like the ten or five yard line. That was pretty exciting. That was my first college interception, and in a big game like that, it was awesome!
Strauss : Sophomore year, what was it like to be first-team All MAC?
Bellore : It was obviously a great honor. It’s something that is a thing on the side that you hope for, but it was good to get recognized. It was one of the goals that I set and to be able to accomplish it, it was great.
Strauss : What were the keys to your success in college?
Bellore : I think I treated it like a job kind of how I treat it now in terms of really doing a lot of studying during the week to really know your opponent. I really think that is underutilized in college and I think that’s something that separated me and hopefully will continue to separate me in the future.
Strauss : What was it like to win the 2010 GMAC Bowl? It was the second bowl game victory in school history. Want to take me what that game was like for you?
Bellore : Well, that game meant a lot to our school, our team, and everybody because not only was it wining a bowl game, but if we won that, we’d be able to crack the Top 25 which I don’t know if we ever had before. It was huge and they had a really good team. They had a bunch of really good athletes. They are some guys there who are playing on Sundays. We knew it’d be tough, even though I thought we had an excellent team. I think it went to double overtime, it was back and forth, back and forth. To be able to win that game, it was huge. Not only a bowl win, but to be in the Top 25 even for a smaller school like us was awesome.
Strauss : What was it like being a teammate of Dan LeFevour?
Bellore : It made everything easy on us, but we knew that we were putting up a bunch of points every game. It takes stress off of us defensively. He’s an unbelievable competitor and made so many plays for us running and throwing. He won countless games for us doing it all. It was awesome to be able to play with a guy who set so many records and did so many good things. He really was a dual-threat back there. It made the three years with him fun, because obviously we had a lot of success. Having a great offense always helps out the defense.
Strauss : What was it like tackling him at practice?
Bellore : Well, the best I could do was tag off on him because you weren’t getting close to him tackling wise. Just getting in front of him taking off was hard enough. I did that and then we got to play him in the preseason and we sacked him a couple of times, but I was hoping to get my hands on him but I couldn’t quite get to him a couple of times.
Strauss : What was it like for you to attend the NFL Scouting Combine? Was it tough for you to see all the other people who were having success with the numbers and all of that?
Bellore : I was happy to be there. I knew it was not really my thing. It’s all stuff that I never excelled at, and I was not so good at. Running the forty, I could really care less about to be honest. Obviously, there’s a lot of emphasis put on it, and I tried to do my best. I’m fine with it. I know I play with a lot of passion. I know whatever time people have on me, I wasn’t really concerned about that. I’ve always been doubted that I can’t run, but that’s fine. People can keep saying I can’t run, but I’ll keep making tackles. It’s not a huge deal to me.
Strauss : What was your draft day experience like and how was it going through all of that?
Bellore : I had a couple of buddies come into town, and we sat around and just watched it. It’s one of those things where things could happen in the Draft that are out of your control. Actually, the whole thing is out of your control. It’s a little scary watching it, and then it gets a little later and later. You get anxious seeing other guys go here and there. It’s a miserable experience to be honest as far as my situation. But when it was done, it took me a couple of days, but after that, I knew that once football started back I would be in a camp. It was up to me to be either upset about what happened or I could start getting ready for when that day came, and I decided to do the latter. It was very frustrating, but as of right now, I could care less about it.
Strauss : What did you spend your time doing during the NFL Lockout?
Bellore : I lived at home in Milwaukee, and worked out as hard as possible. I went to a couple different places to train. It really wasn’t a big deal since everyone asks how hard was it, rating, and all that stuff. It wasn’t really that hard at all. I knew at some point that football would be back, I figured it would be sometime around when training camp started. To be honest, it was one of those things, people were like, ‘Weren’t you nervous that you didn’t know where you going to go?’ I mean, not at all. It’s one of those things… Football is football wherever I decided to go wherever I was invited to go. I had to go there and give my best. It’s one of those things, and obviously I made the right decision here. At the end of the day, you have to perform you end up going.
Strauss : Why’d you choose to go to New York?
Bellore : I was the first guy they called. Coach Rex called me up right when they could contact us. He told me that it was a great opportunity, that they want me there which was huge, and I would have a fair shot at the making team which is all I could ask. I had already talked with Coach Sutton the LBs coach for some time at my Pro Day and I really liked him. I liked their style of coaching, and obviously they had been a successful team. I was pretty much sold. Then, it was a matter of pretty much talking it over with my agent who helped me make my decision.
Strauss : Did you get contacted by any other teams?
Bellore : Yeah. I would say probably about twenty teams called.
Strauss : What was it like being in Florham Park for Jets Camp?
Bellore : It was kind of nice being right at the facility for camp. I think it made it feel a little less like camp which is always a good thing. It was awesome. We had great fan support. I think it made camp a bit more tolerable.
Strauss : What do you think the toughest part of camp was?
Bellore : Going through meetings, learning the defense, just the concepts day-to-day, and the grind.
Strauss : With Westhoff being one of the best Special Team coaches in the NFL, what’s it like trying to please him? What’s it like making sure you’re doing your job right and everything?
Bellore : I was pretty intimidated of him when I first got into camp. I still am to some extent. Obviously, it’s about getting on his good side and doing exactly what he asks. I enjoy having a coach like him because you really know when you’re doing well and when you do mess up, he’ll tell you accordingly. I wanted to get on his good side. It’s about every little detail, and I try to do the best I can every week for him.
Strauss : What was it like for you to make the final Jets roster?
Bellore : It was a great feeling. Wherever I ended up going in free agency, I expected to make the team just in my belief in my abilities and all of that. To see it actually happen was awesome, it was great getting an opportunity here.
Strauss : How do you think you made the team, and why do you think you made it?
Bellore : I had a pretty good grasp of the playbook. We were able to get to the facility a couple minutes before camp started, and get a playbook, and read ahead a little bit, so that helped me out during camp. The first game was obviously crazy as it was the first NFL game. I think I continually got better and that’s what you look for, and I think that helped.
Strauss : What was it like actually to make your first tackle in the NFL?
Bellore : It was pretty amazing. I actually got my first tackle in the first play of the first game against the Cowboys. The first kickoff I got the tackle, and just in a big game like that on Sunday Night on September 11th in New York, it doesn’t get any bigger of a game. That was an awesome feeling.
Strauss : Who had the most impact on your career?
Bellore : I would say my Linebackers coach that I had in college, Mark Elder who is now a coach at Cincinnati. He got there when I got there. I was a young guy, only 17, and he taught me how to really play linebacker. He taught me the ways to prepare for the game which was huge.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Bellore : Haha. Hm, jeez… Oh man… Let me think here… I would say… I have no idea. What have people said in the past? Uh… I would say that I have no idea. I can’t come up with anything right now. I’ll say Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough because… This is a tough one. How do people like this question? This is ten times worse than the ‘Who would you like to meet?’ Hm… Jeez. I got nothing.
Strauss : Do you want hunt at all?
Bellore : I do not. I may be the only person from Wisconsin that doesn’t hunt. I’ve never been hunting before.
Strauss : Do you fish?
Bellore : I fish a little bit. I am kind of more of a city slicker.
Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, what’s the best advice you can give them?
Bellore : I think it’s just take every take advantage you can in terms of preparing your body and your mind for doing it through high school through college, it’s something that I have dedicated a lot of time to since I was a freshman in high school. Personally, try to get better through lifting and all of that stuff. I think preparing for finally being here has paid off. I think it comes down to hard work and trying to get better at what you do.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Bellore : No problem. Thanks for having me do it.
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Nick Bellore. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website https://prointerviews.org/ for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Please subscribe to me on YouTube at http://youtube.com/ProInterviews/ Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me.
->Here are the personal questions that Nick Bellore answered.<-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
Bellore : I think it would be pretty interesting to meet Steve Jobs. I would talk to him about how he kept coming up with new ideas and his knack for marketing things, and just how he did it.
Strauss : Who was your childhood star?
Bellore : I was born in St. Paul. I was a huge fan of Kirby Puckett from the Twins. I remember there was a book about him that I used to read. I was always a big fan of his. Football wise, I always watched Ray Lewis and admired his game. It was pretty cool to play against him earlier this year.
Strauss : Did you get to talk to him after the game?
Bellore : No, not really.
Strauss : What is your favorite TV Show?
Bellore : I am a big fan of ‘How to Make it in America’ on HBO.
Strauss : What is your favorite movie of all time?
Bellore : Apocalypse Now. It’s a movie about Vietnam back in the day. I would also say Godfather and all those movies
Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?
Bellore : French Silk Pie. It’s basically a chocolate crème pie.
Strauss : What would your last meal on earth be?
Bellore : Some type of pizza… I’m a huge pizza fan.
Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?
Bellore : Nothing that really sticks out. I always like getting to the games super early and relaxing and hanging out before it starts.
Strauss : Thank you so much for answering these personal questions too.