Washington State NFL Draft Prospect OLB, Alex Hoffman-Ellis Interview
Alex Hoffman-Ellis attended Hamilton High School, and he didn’t start playing football until his senior year. From there, he went to play at Moorpark College, and in eleven starts, he totaled ninety-one tackles and two sacks. He then transferred to Washington State University. He started since his sophomore year, and played in 35 games with 33 starts, and 253 tackles, four interceptions (returning two of them for touchdowns, seven pass breakups. He is entered for the 2012 NFL Draft. This interview was conducted before the 2012 NFL Draft.
Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?
Hoffman-Ellis : I connect with them different ways. It may be something as simple as going to a local school to speak to/hang out with the kids, to having little conversations with them on Twitter. I’ll point out/talk to the crowd during games, I sometimes give out tickets, or just stop to make time to talk to them when they recognize you.
Strauss : How did you start playing football?
Hoffman-Ellis : I started because I saw a lot of my buddies from the freshman basketball team at my high school were also playing football with pretty good success. Being that, I always have a chip on my shoulder, I thought to myself, “Man, I could do better than them.” Unfortunately, I never got a chance to play my first season of football until my senior year.
Strauss : What was a situation of adversity that you faced growing up?
Hoffman-Ellis : I think a big situation of adversity was not being allowed to play football until my senior year in high school. My parents wouldn’t allow me to play because they (mostly my mom) were afraid that I would get hurt. Then, when they finally were going to allow me to play my sophmore year, I had become academically ineligible, and I didn’t become eligible again until transferring schools midway through my junior year. I think it made me a better person and an athlete because not only am I probably healthier than the average football player, but after I played my senior year, I never took football for granted and learned what it was to sacrifice and prioritize for success.
Strauss : What was your high school football experience like?
Hoffman-Ellis : High school football was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was the ultimate team sport. I really loved my team from top to bottom, players and coaches. They were some of the hardest workouts that I’ve ever been through to this day, but I’d never been closer to a team. I think I shed tears after each of our three losses because I thought that I let my teammates down. The game was still foreign to me, but the one year was enough to hook me and keep me playing the game.
Strauss : What was your recruiting experience like?
Hoffman-Ellis : In high school, it was non-existent. I didn’t know what a highlight tape was or anything about the recruiting process, so I was set on going to a junior college from the start pretty much. At junior college, I did almost all of my own recruiting. I sent out my tape, wrote letters to schools, and made my own calls. A couple of D-1AA’s contacted me and offered me a scholarship to do football and track (javelin), but I waited it out, and then Wazzu offered.
Strauss : What made you end up at Moorpark College?
Hoffman-Ellis : I attended a once a week type of camp during senior year of high school that helped us work on our skills on and off the field as football players and young men. One of the coaches there had gone to and helped coach at Moorpark. He put me in contact with Coach Bittner over there. I drove out there for a visit and liked everything about it, plus it gave me a chance to be away from home, so I chose to go there.
Strauss : What was football like for you at Moorpark College?
Hoffman-Ellis : It was pretty cool. I was tripping out at first because the Ralphs by our apartment out there sold our JuCo’s gear like t-shirts and sweaters and what-not, so that was crazy to me coming from Los Angeles. But I grew a lot as a football player, and we won nine games including our bowl game, and I got a ring and a scholarship out of it. I couldn’t really have asked for more.
Strauss : What was the most important thing you learned at Moorpark College?
Hoffman-Ellis : In order to get somewhere you’ve never been, you’ve gotta do something you’ve never done. My linebacker coach would take me out of the games in obvious run situations because he said I was “too light in the ass” (205 lbs at the time). This pissed me off greatly, so right after the season, I started lifting five times a week, sometimes twice a day, and eating four or five meals per day. It was hard doing the same thing everyday regardless of how tired I was, but after a month and a half, I was nearly 220 lbs and stronger than I had ever been.
Strauss : What was the major reason why you chose to attend Washington State?
Hoffman-Ellis : On top of being in the Pac-12, the major reason was that they were pretty thin at the linebacker position, and since I was a qualifier transferring, it was possible that after red-shirting my first year that I could start for three years at a Pac-12 school.
Strauss : What was it like stepping on the field for your first ever start at Washington State?
Hoffman-Ellis : It was pretty nuts. My first ever start was in Qwest Field where the Seahawks play, and I was probably pretty nervous, but all that really goes away after the first collision/contact, but the fact that I was starting at a D-1 PAC-12 after playing just one year of high school and one year of JuCo was crazy to me at the time.
Strauss : What was your touchdown like against Idaho State?
Hoffman-Ellis : It was super dope. My first career interception and first career touchdown actually came against SMU in 2009, but this one was better because it was opening day at home and it really set the stage for me to have a breakout senior year. The crowd was going nuts and I was really excited (mostly on the inside though for the moment, I was tired as heck!) Plus it was 15 yards longer so that doesn’t hurt.
Strauss : How do you think you have improved your game from your sophomore year to your senior year at Wazzu?
Hoffman-Ellis : Monumentally. I have no idea how I played the game without instincts before, but that’s the main part of my game that improved in that time. I finally started trusting myself during my senior year and I felt so much more comfortable on the field. It started in the film room though, I studied tape like crazy so there was no reason not to be confident once Game Day rolled around.
Strauss : What’s your favorite hit/tackle you’ve had at Washington State?
Hoffman-Ellis : I’m not sure I have a favorite hit. I love all tackles-for-loss/sacks. Those are probably the best. I guess one of the better ones would be in 2010 against Oregon, maybe the second play of the game (I could be wrong, but it was very early in the game for sure), we ran a blitz off the edge and I disguised it really well and came free, and the quarterback tried to step up in the pocket and I got my shoulder on him and with my right arm kind of clothes-lined him in the stomach. He fell backwards and kind of folded, and of course, the crowd fed into my excitement.
Strauss : How have you used the fact that you were not invited to the Combine as motivation?
Hoffman-Ellis : Man, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty pissed. I thought I had deserved it, but I wasn’t about to let something that small break me. I just trained with that on my mind at all times, plain and simple.
Strauss : If a team called you up and said, “Why should we draft you?” what is the best answer you have for them?
Hoffman-Ellis : At any given time when we’re out the field, I’m definitely one of the most passionate players you’ll see out there. I don’t do a lot of celebrating, but I get excited and channel that excitement through my play. Also, on top of being athletic, I think my instincts have developed greatly and with playing only five years. My best football is without question ahead of me.
Strauss : If a scout asked you to choose someone to compare your game to in the NFL, who would you choose and why?
Hoffman-Ellis : I’m not sure there is someone you can compare my game to, just because of my personal situation/lack of experience makes me different. I guess any speedy, fiery linebacker because that’s my style, but I don’t know about a specific person.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Hoffman-Ellis : Ice cream flavor huh? I don’t know about a linebacker describing himself as an ice cream flavor. Ice cream is a little too soft and sweet to be described as. I’m going to take a rain check on this question man, my bad. You definitely get creativity points for this one though!
Strauss : For someone who wants to eventually make the NFL, do you have any advice for them?
Hoffman-Ellis : Never hang your hat on what you’ve accomplished. Once you do that, you’ve become complacent and you’ve lost. To strive to get to the NFL is to keep setting goals that are difficult to achieve so once you meet one goal, you already have another in place so there’s no time to rest on your haunches. Everyday you get better or worse, and if you stay the same you are getting worse. To sum it up, everything you earn is a by-product of your work ethic, so you’ll get out what you put in.
Strauss : What is the ENTIRE story behind your twitter name, Hoffcrates?
Hoffman-Ellis : Ha! Sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t a huge story behind it. I get philosophical via Twitter every now and then, and Socrates is arguably the most well-known philosopher of all time, so I just took out the “Soc” and inserted the “Hoff” and there you have it.
Strauss : Is there anything you want to tell your fans that I have not asked?
Hoffman-Ellis : Not really, but if you got this far in reading this interview about me… Thanks for paying attention to my answers.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
Hoffman-Ellis : Thank you man. It was only five years ago that the goals I’m chasing were just dreams, so thanks for being a part of my personal journey.
->Here are the personal questions that Alex Hoffman-Ellis answered.<-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone in the world who you haven’t met before, who would it be and why?
Hoffman-Ellis : Just one person?! I guess it’d probably be Anthony Bourdain. His show is so dope. I’d want to go to one of his destinations with him and try the local cuisine and learn about the culture. He’s not fake for the cameras, so that’s awesome to know that he can be himself regardless of how uncomfortable being on camera all the time can make you feel.
Strauss : Who was your childhood star?
Hoffman-Ellis : The black ranger from the original Power Rangers, no question. I used to imitate all his moves in front of the TV. I actually met and took a picture with him when I was in elementary school, and I still have that picture.
Strauss : What is your favorite TV Show?
Hoffman-Ellis : Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. The things he gets to eat are awesome. He travels all over the world and experiences the real local culture, not that touristy crap that travel brochures try and sell you.
Strauss : What is your favorite movie of all time?
Hoffman-Ellis : I don’t have just one – that’s impossible. I love SuperBad, Step Brothers, Anchorman, The Town, all the Disney classics, The Fifth Element, Seven Pounds, Hitch, Appaloosa, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon… I guess I will stop now.
Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?
Hoffman-Ellis : Mud pie, no question. DELICIOUS!
Strauss : What would be your last meal on earth?
Hoffman-Ellis : See, these questions I love! Alright… I’m going with all-you-can-eat sushi. Best food in the world, no question. I would go to town on that. To drink, I’d have to have either an Arnold Palmer or a Thai Iced Tea. For dessert… that’s tough, I got a mean sweet tooth. I’m going to go with cannoli. Best dessert ever, no question but DAMN they are terrible for you.
Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?
Hoffman-Ellis : Nope. As a matter of fact, I really don’t even listen to music on an iPod. I just get real relaxed, really loose, just ready to have fun. Music and stuff like that can make me too uptight, and I don’t need all that.
Strauss : What is your favorite song to listen to before a game?
Hoffman-Ellis : I don’t have one. Whatever ignorant music is playing on the locker room speakers would do.
Strauss : If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
Hoffman-Ellis : I’d want the powers that the pill from the movie Limitless gave people. Just think, I’d be able to use the full potential of my brain! Just thinking of all the knowledge I could retain… it’d be glorious!!!
Strauss : Thank you for answering the personal questions!