NFL Draft Q&A: N.C. State center Joe Scelfo
Our NFL Draft Q&A series continues with former South Alabama and N.C. State center Joe Scelfo, another prospect training with Tom Shaw at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando. His last name is pronounced CELL-foh, and he took time to talk about the merits of being a grad transfer, his father's Falcons days and summers spent shucking oysters ...
Q: You played in the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg. What was that like for you to help showcase yourself against other draft prospects?
A: "I thought it was great. It was exactly what I needed, to get in front of more eyes. I heard great feedback from the league on how I did there. I was excited about it going in and I knew it could only help me. I'm really thankful I got the opportunity to play in the game. I just went out and played well, did my thing, which was great."
Q: What are your biggest priorities in terms of improving measurables for workouts?
A: "I definitely want to get quicker. I want to get my feet quicker. It's pretty cliche for o-linemen to say, but I definitely need to get my feet quicker, and just all-around speed. I've seen some good results. This is Week 2, and we work really hard. It's all day, every day, so I'm seeing results."
Q: What did the year at N.C. State do for you, playing in a bigger conference in the ACC?
A: "That was why I did it, why I grad-transferred, was to challenge myself and play the best of the best each week. It was an awesome experience as far as playing at that level. At the end of the day, it's just ball, and it's always just going to be football. My mentality was 'Play your game. I deserve to be there.' I made all-ACC, which was a dream of mine. In high school, I didn't have any big-time offers or anything, so I've always had that underdog mentality to outwork everybody. I put my head down and went to work and outworked a lot of people. It worked out well."
Q: Is there a center in the NFL you like to watch or pattern yourself after?
A: "I really like the way A.Q. Shipley plays. That dude gets after it in Arizona. All week (at Shrine) my coaches were calling me 'Little AQ.' We have similar measurables and similar techniques. I say A.Q., and I really like watching Joe Hawley with the Buccaneers. I think he's super underrated. I think he's a heck of a player. The stuff that he does is really impressive and really smart. When I watch him, I try to put myself in his shoes. He's reading safeties and you can tell he knows what the guy's going to do before he does it. I always respect guys like that."
Q: Hawley would have been in Atlanta for some of the time your dad Chris was the Falcons' tight ends coach.
A: "He was. He's like my mentor a little bit. I talk to him about stuff all the time. Todd McClure was the center for the Falcons when my dad was there and he's also a really good center."
Q: How well do you know Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter, now down here with the Bucs. Did you get to meet them at all?
A: "I knew them just from being around the facililty. I know them pretty well. Really good people, Coach Smith and Dirk and Andrew Weidinger."
Q: Who is the best player you've gone up against in college?
A: "I'd probably say the nose guard from Florida State (Derrick Nnadi) was pretty good, and a few years back, I played Chris Jones at Mississippi State. He was really good. I played him when I was a sophomore."
Q: One of the things we're asking everybody is best food recommendations back on campus. I'll start with Mobile.
A: "Wintzell's, for sure. That's the best spot in Mobile. I actually worked there, shucked oysters for them for a couple summers. I had those stainless steel gloves and was getting after it. You've got to go. They have the best oysters I've had, and I grew up in New Orleans, so I've had my fair share. In Raleigh, I'd say Jason's Deli. That was my spot. I ate there all the time. I like Amedeo's, but it's not on campus. It's right on Western Boulevard. It's Italian and my dad's Italian and I'll eat anything there on the menu."
Q: Favorite sports team, outside the schools you've played for?
A: "Whoever's paying the bills for my dad, I guess."
Q: (Shortly after the interview, Chris Scelfo was hired as offensive line coach at the University of Houston.) I was reading how cool it was that he's been able to go to your games the last two years.
A: "It was a dream come true. You know how it is in the coaching world. It's hard to see your kids. He didn't miss a game. He went to every game, helped me break down film. It was a dream having him at my side all year."
Q: Which NFL teams have shown the most interest in your so far?
A: "At the Shrine Game, I talked to probably 15 teams. I talked to the Patriots for a while. All the teams are showing pretty similar interest, but the Patriots I probably talked to the longest. I talked to Tampa Bay, one of their scouts."
Q: What was your degree in at South Alabama?
A: "Sport management, and my master's is in family development. I get that in May. I'm finishing up now online. I want to coach, but I have a passion for impacting the youth. I want to eventually get my MBA. I mentored a kid in Raleigh and fell in love with putting a smile on people's faces and helping them achieve their goals."
Check out other NFL Draft Q&As: Army linebacker Andrew King, Louisana Tech receiver Trent Taylor, Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and Saint Francis safety Lorenzo Jerome.