Written by Dan Heins follow on Twitter @Dan_DFW
Last Tuesday, I introduced you to a young man from Vanderbilt that has thus far been flying under most radars. Zac Stacy. Stacy, is Vandy’s all-time leading rusher. He “pops” on film, possesses all the traits necessary to be highly successful at the NFL level, and has the focus, drive, determination, and perspective to add a high level of value to any lucky NFL team that drafts him in April. Zac opened some eyes at the combine, and while there are still many doubters, I can proudly say that not only am I on the Zac Stacy hype-train, I am shoveling coal into the engine.
After publishing my player “breakdown” article on Stacy last week, I reached out to him to see if we could gain a little perspective as to who Zac Stacy really is. After agreeing to the interview and hearing his answers, it is even more clear to me, that I am backing the right sleeper in this draft.
Zac is currently ranked as my #2 running back in this draft. I have yet to see him break many top 5 lists, yet highly respected and NFL-scout run site www.draftnasty.com, has him listed as their #4 overall running back prospect behind only the likes of Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, and Marcus Lattimore.
I am confident once you get to know Zac a little better, you will want him higher on your rankings too:
Dan_DFW: How would you best describe yourself in one sentence?
Stacy: Humbled, hard working young man who is a very good opportunist.
Dan_DFW: We hear your work ethic is 2nd to none. Where did that come from?
Stacy: Most people tend to say my outstanding work ethic is due to being the “underdog”. Being overlooked, trying to prove something to people. In most cases, yes, but my case is simple; You work, train, compete at a high level it will often times carry over in the game & in life.
Dan_DFW: What motivates you?
Stacy: Success. I am no different than anyone else, I just want to be successful on the field & in life.
Dan_DFW: You have been called a leader. In your opinion, what is the best way to lead/motivate?
Stacy: Staying positive. As a senior captain at Vandy, I always kept my guys positive by being vocal because there is a lot football in a 12-13 game season and with that brings adversity throughout the season. I came to practice every day with a blue collar mentality which domino-effected the rest of my teammates to practice at a high level as well.
Dan_DFW: What are you passionate about outside of football?
Dan_DFW: What do people most often criticize about you?
Stacy: Hahaha… numerous things. I couldn’t count them on my fingers that’s for sure.
Dan_DFW: What is your greatest strength as a person?
Dan_DFW: What is your greatest weakness?
Stacy: I’m pretty sure I have one, just don’t know what it is. Nobody’s perfect
Dan_DFW: Who is a person that has had powerful influence on you.
Stacy: My mother. I call her superwoman. Being a single parent and raising two kids (myself and my little brother who has down syndrome) on her own, makes her a powerful woman. She is BIG on EDUCATION. She always had a “SCHOOL FIRST BALL SECOND” mentality in our family.
Dan_DFW: Can you tell us one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Stacy: Graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Education in 3.5 years.
Dan_DFW: What was your most memorable moment as a part of the Vanderbilt football team?
Stacy: Becoming the All-Time leading rusher in school history.
Dan_DFW: What were some of the challenges of balancing college life and the commitment to football?
Stacy: It was definitely a hard transition academically from high school to college but I was able to adapt. Really, especially at a prestigious institute like Vandy, time management is key. Knowing when to do assignments or whatnot and using your resources & networking. (academic counselors, peers, teammates etc)
Dan_DFW: What will you miss most about college?
Stacy: Saturdays during the fall.
Dan_DFW: If you could give one piece of advice to an incoming freshman player, what would it be?
Stacy: Take advantage of every opportunity you have, whether it being on the field or off. Because it goes by quick. In a blink of an eye, you will be playing your last game of your possible football career. TAKE ADVANTAGE
Dan_DFW: What was the most challenging PHYSICAL aspect of the Combine?
Stacy: It was definitely a challenge. Being on your feet almost all day with medical examinations, testing, and interviews with little rest. But nonetheless, it was a great experience. I enjoyed
Dan_DFW: What’s more stressful at the Combine, the anticipation of performing in the on field tests, or enduring the interviews?
Stacy: Honestly I wasn’t necessarily stressed at the Combine because I kind of knew what to expect. I was more nervous about my performance on the field than the interviews. But as the days drew closer I started to relax and just enjoy myself which I think is key for opportunities like that.
Dan_DFW: How is the camaraderie between the players at the Combine?
Stacy: It was good. It was good to be able to compete and fellowship with some of the best backs in college football. Guys like Marcus Lattimore Christine Michael, Ray Graham.. all those guys, outstanding football players but even better people.
Dan_DFW: Did you come away from the Combine with any expectations or feelings, based on your interactions with teams, what round you may go in?
Stacy: Not really. Technically that’s something that you can not control as a player. Only thing I could control was the amazing opportunity that I got to even be invited to the Combine. Over 300 players get invited each year. I was one of em. So my mentality was to just go out and perform at a high level and have fun doing it as well. Everything else will take care of itself. Hopefully I cracked an eye open or two. We’ll see what happens.
Dan_DFW: How much preparation did you do for the events at the Combine?
Stacy: A lot of prep. There were times where I would go back late at night to the training facility where I trained, and just practice every event. REP after REP after REP. & Honestly, it carried over at the Combine. I felt very comfortable and relaxed at every drill. Big SALUTE to Chip Smith my trainer over in Atlanta at CES performance. One of the best in the business.
Dan_DFW: In which Combine event were you most pleased with your results? Least pleased?
Stacy: Overall I think I did very well in every event. I finished almost top 10 in every event and was a top performer in the 3 cone (6.7) & the Bench reps(28). Was very pleased with my 3 cone because it obviously showed my change of direction skills, and my forty which was a 4.5. So for the most part, I put up some good numbers.
Dan_DFW: From now until the draft, what are your plans? Are you training anywhere in particular, with any other players?
Stacy: Right now I’m back training in Atlanta until the week of my pro day which is on the 22nd of March. Just getting back in football and staying in tune with my speed/explosiveness as well as staying fit in the weight room. Not sure what teams will want to meet with me and do individuals workouts as of right now, but we’ll probably be hearing some towards the pro day.
Dan_DFW: Are there any particular areas of your game you plan to focus on as you prepare to play on Sundays?
Stacy: In the game of football, I’m always learning. Physically, I feel like I’m prepared to play at the next level, but you also have to be prepared mentally. The coaching staff at Vandy did an outstanding job of helping us become better students of the game but I’m always eager to learn more, So I’m just trying to become an even better student of the game in terms of learning defensive tendencies, coverages, blitzes all of those things; so that I can be productive & consistent at the RB position at the next level.
Dan_DFW: Who will be your first phone call after you’re drafted?
Stacy: I have no clue. Most of my family will be around for the draft
Dan_DFW: Are there any teams in particular that you’re hoping to call out your name in the draft?
Stacy: Not really. Whoever gives me the opportunity.
Dan_DFW: Do you consider yourself an every down back at the next level? We do.
Stacy: No doubt. I’ve always considered myself an every down back because I was so productive at the college level. But my mentality is to come in and put whichever team/organization that pick me up in the best possible situation to be successful .
Dan_DFW: Do you play any fantasy football?
Stacy: Unfortunately, I don’t.
Dan_DFW: Which current NFL pro would you compare your style of play to?
Stacy: Ray Rice. I feel like we have similar builds in terms of size and he is probably one of the best backs in the league. Due to his productivity, his outstanding ability to catch routes out the backfield, and his decisive north south running style at his size.
DFW would like to thank Zac for providing some of his time to do this interview. We really appreciate it, and wish Zac and his family the best of luck at his up-coming Pro Day on March 22nd, and at the NFL draft on Thursday April 25th.