As any Dallas Cowboys fan would know, one of the most significant areas of improvement the team needs to address is run defense, especially interior run defense.
It cannot be Jonathan Hankins or bust in 2023, so I started digging into prospects that might be flying under the radar but be the kind of person and player the Cowboys need to add this off-season.
Kansas State standout Eli Huggins is just that type of prospect; the true student-athlete with two master's degrees and an MBA, poised to tackle the next challenge on his radar — an NFL career.
Let's check out my interview with Eli Huggins for InsideTheStar.com
Pat Schuster: What are your official height, weight, and max bench?
Eli Huggins: I am 6-3, 295, and I haven't done a max bench in a while, but I expect to be somewhere in the mid-20s rep-wise for 225 at my pro day on March 31st.
Pat: How did you come to select Kansas State after high school?
Eli: It's a funny story. I had something close to 20 offers coming out of high school, but once I went to see Kansas State, I fell in love with the town and the school, and the idea of playing for a Hall of Famer like Coach Bill Snyder was a dream come true.
Pat: What other sports did you play in high school?
Eli: I played basketball and lacrosse to stay in shape, but I also did tournament bass fishing and enjoyed that, especially as a break from football.
Pat: Who was your favorite player or team growing up (any sport)?
Eli: My Dad is a lifelong fan of the University of Tennessee, so I grew up watching and following the career of Peyton Manning. I was a Colts and Broncos fan because of Peyton. The other player I admire immensely is Jason Witten.
Pat: Who was the best player you faced in your career at Kansas State?
Eli: The overall player was Baker Mayfield. He was challenging to defend and even harder to contain. The lineman I went against would be Steve Avila from TCU. He is tough and brings it every play. I enjoyed our battles.
In high school, I faced Andrew Thomas (current New York Giants lineman), and that was no picnic, but it prepared me for college.
Pat: Talk about the fourth down stop in the Big 12 championship game to beat TCU to win the Championship. I assume it will be a play you will never forget.
Eli: It was, and I am not sure we would want to win any other way.
It was a slow-developing power play for them that helped Daniel Green and me quickly diagnose and make the stop.
Pat: Who is a player to follow next year at Kansas State?
Eli: Offensive Lineman Cooper Beebe, who could have declared this year but will be back anchoring the offensive line, is one player.
Another player is Daniel Green, linebacker, who also could have announced he was entering the draft but instead will be back, causing havoc for opposing offenses.
Pat: A four-time Academic All Big-12, your family stressed education. How did you manage to be so successful in the classroom and on the playing field?
Eli: Having three siblings made for a very competitive household. My parents always emphasized that school came first and that good grades were mandatory before considering playing sports.
Pat: How was the experience at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl?
Eli: It was good, a total first-class experience. Unfortunately, I tweaked my hamstring, but I met with several teams and enjoyed myself.
Pat: If a team wanted to watch you at your best from start to finish, what game tape should they watch?
Eli: 2022 Texas game (8 tackles, five solos, and three assists).
Pat: If you could meet anyone alive today, who would it be?
Eli: Joe Rogan, as he seems to be interesting to talk with and pick his brain.
Pat: What is your favorite food?
Eli: It is called a Low Country Boil. It contains shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn.
Pat: Describe yourself in three words.
Eli: Discipline, tough, and intelligent.
You can follow Eli on Twitter as he prepares for the NFL.