No one knows where any players will be drafted, but Texas A&M LB Von Miller provides a measure of stability. The standout linebacker was the picture of steady production throughout his college career, earning two All-American nods and a Butkus Award along the way. Combine his dominant college statistics (28 sacks in the last two years) with his freakish performance at the NFL combine (4.53 40-yard dash at 250 pounds) and you have a consensus top 10 draft pick. We caught up with Von at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and talked training and the NFL draft.
How has your diet changed as you've started to get ready for the draft? How are you eating differently?
I'm working with Gatorade right now and going through the testing and the lab tests that we do. At the next level, there's really not much that separates everybody talent-wise, so you have to find other ways to get an edge. A way that I can get that edge is with great nutrition and with great re-fueling.
Tell me about the Texas A&M strength program. How did it prepare you for the NFL and how did it help you while you were playing there throughout the years?
I had a great strength and conditioning coach who was probably one of the primary guys that got me going athletically and mentally. He's a great guy, coach Dave Kennedy. He coached Larry Fitzgerald, Eddie George, Joey Galloway, just a ton of guys. With his expertise, it really got us to the right level. He knows how to motivate guys mentally. He knows how to motivate guys physically. It's just a talent and a skill that he has to put out great athletes.
Did you train with the Texas A&M program for the draft, or did you go somewhere else to train?
I was out in Orange County with another great coach, Coach Ken Vick. He coached Shawn Crawford, the Olympic gold medalist in the 200 meter. Working with Coach Vick was great. Everybody came down to the combine and we all PR'ed. I ran the fastest 40 I could. Jake Locker, he did great in the 40 and all his other drills. Stephen Paea broke the combine record in the bench. Everybody that I was training with, we all did great in some event.
Has your training changed at all since you started getting ready for the draft?
Right after the combine, I had probably like six days before my Pro Day. Right after my Pro Day, the next week was just traveling, visiting teams. I haven't had too much time to get in a great workout. I've just been working out in my hotel room, doing pushups, jumping jacks, running in place, just trying to get the blood flowing a little bit. That's all I've really had time to do. I got my first good workout in this morning, and it was the lab tests here with Gatorade.
What were some of the things that they had you do?
We had a Wingate test. It's a bike hooked up to a computer, and they can control the tension of the bike through the computer. You get on the bike, and you just go as full speed as you can for 30 seconds. 30 seconds full speed is hard no matter what you're doing, and they're controlling the tension on the bike so it's extremely hard. They get you on a treadmill and they calculate your heart rate by running a mile — they see what your constant heart rate is. They've got dynamic vision tests where you knock out the lights on a board as fast as you can while reading the number right in front of you. It's all to calculate your reaction time and your conditioning.
You mentioned that you were traveling a lot to meet with teams. How did you eat healthy on the road?
It was great. Working out in Orange Country, we had great nutritionists out there. They really got us going with the training wheels on. After we left, it was really second nature. You just grab a Gatorade here at the airport, a deli sandwich, eat a granola bar with a smoothie and you're good to go. I just try to keep it healthy. I just try to eat foods
that will benefit me more than they take away.
If you had to give a scouting report on yourself, what would you say? What are some of the things that you do well?
First and foremost, I'm a team guy. I always put the team before me. I try to put my teammates in position to make plays, and if they can't do it, I'm gonna put myself into the situation to make plays for them. If they're not making the play, then I should be in the correct position to make those plays. That's how I play the game. I like to play every down like it's my last down with fanatical, relentless effort. That's the same as the other ten guys that are on the field with me at Texas A&M.
Is there any NFL player that you've modeled your game after?
I love the way Clay Matthews plays and I love the way Derrick Thomas played. I just try to take something from both of their games and try to create my own style, the 'Von/Thomas/Matthews style.' I've got a lot of film of Derrick Thomas, and I watch Clay Matthews, that's my favorite player in the league right now.
A lot of draft analysts have compared you to a young Derrick Thomas. Do you follow a lot of the pre-draft coverage?
Honestly, I don't. My mom and my little brother, they're pretty much glued to the TV watching all that stuff. I try to pry them away from it and tell them don't listen to that stuff.
What's the best advice that you've gotten throughout this whole draft process?
The best advice I got was from LaDainian Tomlinson at the Super Bowl. He told me, just go in and do the same things that got you there. Don't let nobody change who you are. Don't let anybody change your style of play. He told me, if you look at all the great ones, they've been playing the same way since they were young—they just amped it up a level. They were more advanced by the way they played, but they never changed who they were.
What are your plans for the draft? Are you headed to New York?
Actually, I'm out in New York right now. I plan on being in Radio City Music Hall with my family and just going through the whole draft experience.