What are your measurements (height, weight and forty
I never ran the forty before. I am listed at 6’2
When you were coming out of high school, what
programs showed interest in you?
I was getting recruited by all of the Big 10 schools
except Ohio State. UCLA, Clemson and Notre Dame
showed interest. But those three schools never
offered. I didn’t play my junior year of high
school because I broke my ankles.
Describe your road to recovery
after the injury.
I rehabbed during the off-season. I just came back
that next year. I had a point to prove during my
senior year. I was getting overlooked by a lot of
people. I didn’t play my junior year of high
school. I wanted to show people that I can actually
What made you choose Illinois?
My best friend from high school was going there.
Another one of my teammates Martez Wilson went
there. They were fresh of the Rose Bowl victory.
Tell me about your career at Illinois.
I spent three seasons at Illinois. I went there as
a true freshman. I redshirted my first year because
I was a little bit undersized. I needed to learn
the playbook. The next spring, I made it a point to
grasp the playbook. I played on special teams my
redshirt freshman season. My redshirt sophomore, we
got a whole new defense. I turned around and got
hurt in a car accident in July. After that, it
seemed like everything was spiraling out of
control. I just felt like I needed a new start. I
just needed a transfer.
You got into a fight in November of your redshirt
sophomore year, describe that incident to us. It
seems that Illinois wanted you to stay from what I
could gather, why did you decide to leave?
I want to clarify this incident. I wasn’t involved
in a fight. I didn’t throw a punch. I didn’t do
anything. I just happened to be driving the car out
of which a person hopped out of when the fight
happened. I just felt like I needed to leave
because Coach Zook and I had a few conversations as
far as getting more playing time for myself. I
didn’t see that happen. I knew that I had two more
years left. I thought that this saga could
continue. I wanted to give myself a chance to play
at the next level. I didn’t see myself doing that
while only playing on special teams. I didn’t see
many scouts coming here and paying attention to
special teams. The scouts wanted to see what you
would do during the course of the game.
Why did you decide to transfer to Illinois State?
It was close to home. I have never really been out
of the state of Illinois. I just wanted to stay
close to home. If something would go wrong, I would
have only two hours to drive to Chicago versus being
somewhere in Texas.
Are you happy with the way your career unfolded at
It was pretty good. I came in and I had to earn a
spot. I wasn’t just given that spot. It was one of
the best decisions that I have made. It was like a
breath of fresh air. It gave me a second chance.
The whole Illinois State’s coaching staff gave me a
chance that I needed. I needed a fresh start like
What are your strengths?
I can rush the passer. I pride myself on that. I
love getting after the QB.
What areas of your game are you trying to improve
I came from a public school in Chicago. We were not
big into lifting weights. I need to get stronger in
my upper body. I wasn’t that strong when I got to
Illinois. I felt like I was always catching up when
it comes to strength. I felt like I was always
behind. When I played on the defensive line,
offensive linemen outweighed me by about 40 or 50
pounds. I have the lower body strength, but I need
to get stronger in my upper body.
What is the highlight of your career up to this
It was actually the reaction of us making the
playoffs this year. Two years ago, we were watching
the selection show, but we didn’t get in. It was
the biggest crushing blow that I have ever
experienced. I was speechless. This past year, we
were back in the same room. I was so happy when our
team’s name came up on TV. All of this off-season
conditioning wasn’t for nothing.
How did the playoff run end for your team?
It ended in the third round against Eastern
Washington. They were a really talented team. We
couldn’t get any stops on defense when we needed
it. Turnovers were killing us.
What is your favorite NFL team?
I am a Chicago fan. I root for the Bears, the White
Sox, the Cubs and the Blackhawks.
How tough was it for you this past season to see the
Bears miss the playoffs and for Lovie Smith to get
I like Lovie. They should have given him one more
year. I understand that it is a business at the end
of the day. They have to do what’s best for the
team. I was disappointed that the Bears didn’t make
the playoffs. I was hoping that they would make the
playoffs because they started the season 7-1. I was
talking smack to some of my teammates because they
are from Wisconsin. They are Packers fans.
Who is your favorite NFL player?
I want to be like DeMarcus Ware. I like the way he
gets after the QB. I feel like we play a similar
position. I just look up to him.
Do you feel more comfortable playing as a DE or as
I see myself in the hybrid stand-up role. I can put
my hand on the ground because I have done it
before. But the hybrid position would give me a
chance to fight off blockers better. I play the run
better when I am standing on my feet.
What did you enjoy the most about playing college
I love the big crowds. I like how loud they get on
third downs. I played in front of 110,000 people
against Ohio State when I was at Illinois. We
played in front of a sold-out stadium at Michigan.
I am real big on crowds.
What are your hobbies?
I like watching movies. I sit down, relax and put
on a movie. I play video games every now and then.
But I am not really big on video games.
What is your favorite movie?
I like Any Given Sunday. Jamie Fox got called upon
into action while he was a backup before. He didn’t
respond in the most fashionable way. But it just
shows that you won’t be stuck in a role for long.
When you are called upon, you need to capitalize.
You can be a backup in the NFL, but when a player
like Ray Lewis goes down, you have to be ready to
respond. You never know when you time will come.
What makes you a unique individual?
I am not one of those guys that will give
motivational speeches. I am really quiet. I am
really humble. I don’t boast and brag.
What is your definition of a leader?
A leader is someone who sets an example. A leader
just goes in and does it. My head coach told me
that you are a natural leader. You just do it
without saying anything, and people follow you.
Which underclassmen on your team
should we keep an eye on in the future?
Colton Underwood. He played opposite of me. He
also played inside. I think that he will have an
amazing season. Josh Aladenoye is a LT. He
transferred from Oklahoma. He is going to have a
breakout year. He got better in no time. He is
someone to watch out for.
How does it feel to be a small
fish in a large pond?
It is difficult. When I was at the NFLPA game, NFL
people would overlook me because I wasn’t from a big
program. At the end of the day, I take pride of
where I am from. I am happy that I went to a small
school. I look at it as a challenge. I watch NFL
games and see guys from small schools. They made
it, so why can’t I make it. It is a chance for you
Where are you training for the NFL Draft?
I am training in Tampa, Florida. I am at Cooper
Speed and Strength.
What is your training regimen like right now? Take
us into your daily routine.
We train two times a day. We train 5 or 6 days a
week. I wake up in the morning and eat breakfast.
Then I had over to the facility. I run the forty or
do position drills. We run in the morning. We eat
our lunch there. We relax. Then we go back for our
weightlifting portion of the workout. We stretch
out after each workout. We go home after that. On
the weekends, we condition on Saturdays. We have a
Finish the sentence, Nate Palmer
On the field, I am a quiet leader. I lead by
example. Off the field, I am also a quiet guy. I
just like to relax.