2016 NFL Draft: R.J. Noel, Sacred Heart University
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Justin David Kish: Thank you for taking the time to do the interview how are things going for you today?
R.J. Noel: Things are going really well thank you for asking, hope everything is going well for you too.
Justin David Kish: For the fans who are not familiar with you can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
R.J. Noel: For the people who are not too familiar with me, my name is RJ Noel from Lowell Massachusetts. I am a current senior at Sacred Heart University working on a Masters Degree in Sports Management. I have been a 3-year starting Quarterback for the Pioneers.
Justin David Kish: How old were you when you first got involved with football?
R.J. Noel: I was 8 years old when I first started my involvement with organized football.
Justin David Kish: Who were some of your childhood idols growing up?
R.J. Noel: Some of my childhood idols growing up were Tom Brady and Brett Favre. I still consider both my idols now, especially Tom Brady.
Justin David Kish: Lets get into your High School Football career. You were a decorative High School Football quarterback for Lowell High School in Massachusetts. Tell us about your career with Lowell High School?
R.J. Noel: High School was tough for me. I had 3 different head coaches in my 4 years of high school. We ended up always being just an average team each year. When I was a freshman I played Junior Varsity Quarterback and Defensive Back. As a sophomore I played Junior Varsity Quarterback but played Varsity Defensive Back. By the time my junior year came around I was in a starting position battle for Quarterback on the Varsity level with a senior that was a head of me. We ended up splitting time for the whole season. He would get a series and then I would get a series. While splitting time at Quarterback I would be starting at Defensive Back and returning kick offs and punts. When I became a senior I was just a full time starting Quarterback. I had my most successful year when I was a senior statistically.
Justin David Kish: Lowell High School plays against tough teams like Andover, Lawrence and Lexington. What school was your toughest opponent and what made them tough in your eyes?
R.J. Noel: Through my 4 years of high school we played a lot of great competition in Massachusetts but year in and year out my toughest opponent was Chelmsford High School. They were part of my conference schedule and they always had my number. Chelmsford High always had great tough players. They had this edge that was hard to overcome.
Justin David Kish: You are a natural quarterback, did you play any other position in High School besides quarterback?
R.J. Noel: Thank you but as I said before, in high school I played not only quarterback but also defensive back and kick returner.
Justin David Kish: It is said that you played both baseball and basketball at Lowell High School. If this is correct did you ever feel that you could pursue a pro career in baseball or basketball besides Football?
R.J. Noel: That is correct, I did play both Baseball and Basketball while at Lowell High School. I also ran indoor track for two years as well. But I never thought or had an interest in pursuing a career in anything but Football. I knew from the beginning that Football is what I wanted to play in the future.
Justin David Kish: Your senior season at Lowell High School really put your name on the map where you threw for over 2,300 yards and 1,100 yards on the ground. These achievements gave you the team MVP award that season what was it like to get honored with such an award?
R.J. Noel: I was very grateful and thankful to receive the MVP of my team after the season was completed my senior year. This award showed me that my team and coaches believed in me and that I gave my all every game. It was a huge honor to be recognized by my pears.
Justin David Kish: After a solid performance during your season recruitment is now coming. Tell us about your recruitment process, what teams were interested in you and what made you land at Sacred Heart?
R.J. Noel: The recruitment process was very stressful. I believe I was very under recruited. I had interest from a handful of division 1AA schools as well as numerous division 2 and 3 schools. That year I had only taken 2 official visits to schools. One was New Haven, a division 2 school in the NE-10 and Sacred Heart. I took my visit to Sacred Heart really late. Signing day had already come and gone and I was still left searching for the right fit. Schools really backed off from recruiting me. Sacred Heart reached out to me knowing that I had not committed anywhere yet. Once I took my visit at Sacred Heart I knew that is where I wanted to go. I really enjoyed the coaches and other student athletes there. To me there was something special that Sacred Heart had. I had a really good feeling once I left my visit. A couple days later I decided to make my commitment to play for them.
Justin David Kish: What was your transition like from playing High School Football to College Football?
R.J. Noel: The transition from playing high school ball to college was pretty easy for me. There is an obvious difference in game speed, players, and knowledge but it was not too hard for me. I was red-shirted my freshman year, which really helped me a lot.
Justin David Kish: Was it hard for you to adapt to a whole new offense and learn a whole new playbook?
R.J. Noel: For me I picked up on the offense and new playbook pretty well. My redshirt year had a lot to do with that. What helped me the most was how much I learned about college football as all together. The verbiage of a new offense is what I struggled with most but once I got that down I was fine.
Justin David Kish: In your 1st season as the teams full time starter you lead the Pioneers to their first ever FCS-Playoff berth and Northeast Conference Championship. Tell us about this experience?
R.J. Noel: This was the highlight of my whole football career. Going into the off-season before the start of that year I was in a position battle. By the end of the pre-season I was named the starter. Going into our first game as a team we had a goal to prove everyone that we were a good team and that we could win. The year before we went 2-9 and that did not sit well with any of the players. The year we won our first NEC Championship and made the FCS-Playoffs we had a chip on our shoulder. We knew the season was not going to be easy. We faced adversity like every other football team but our chemistry as a team got us through it and become the top team in our conference. Winning a championship and making the playoffs was a major accomplishment for me since I was a first year starter. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
Justin David Kish: Tell us more about your football career with Sacred Heart?
R.J. Noel: My freshman I took a redshirt year so I never played. The next three years after that I was the starting QB and named captain my redshirt-junior year. We won the conference and made the FCS-Playoffs my first two years as a starter but lost in the first round both of the years we made the playoffs.
Justin David Kish: What was your finest moment as a Pioneer?
R.J. Noel: My finest moment as a Pioneer was definitely winning back-to-back conference championships.
Justin David Kish: Tell us about your final game as a member of the Sacred Heart Pioneers?
R.J. Noel: Believe it or not my final game as a member of the Sacred Heart Pioneers was not my final game. At the time I thought it might be my final game but a few weeks after the season ended I decided to take my final season as a Pioneer. I will be going back to Sacred Heart next fall for my Redshirt-Senior year.
Justin David Kish: Lets get into some NFL Draft questions, what kind of quarterback do you consider yourself as Dual-Threat or Pro-Style?
R.J. Noel: I definitely consider myself a Dual-Threat quarterback. I am not much to sit in the pocket and throw the ball. I like to run the ball as well and I think my ability to run has had a great impact on my career.
Justin David Kish: What do you consider your biggest strength in your game?
R.J. Noel: To me I consider my biggest strength is recognizing defenses and checking to an audible based on what I see, so I can put my teammates in the best situation possible.
Justin David Kish: What do you personally think you need to work on in your game to up your draft status?
R.J. Noel: I think I need to work on my anticipation and accuracy to help my status. I know at times I am not great at anticipating my receivers coming open and throwing the ball to a spot where only they can catch it.
Justin David Kish: As a small school prospect do you consider that as a big obstacle leading into your draft process?
R.J. Noel: I do not believe that this would be a big obstacle for me. I know with some work I can become a better passer and show people that I can be an all around great quarterback.
Justin David Kish: If you were to compare yourself to any current past or present NFL quarterback who would you compare yourself to and why?
R.J. Noel: I would consider myself like Russell Wilson. I make this comparison because we are very similar in body type as well as quarterbacks. We both have the ability to run and get out of bad situation if we need to.
Justin David Kish: Before we let you go is there any advice you can give to High School football players wanting to play College Football?
R.J. Noel: Advice I would give high school football players that want to play college football would to be to make the most of their opportunities. Play their game and have fun while doing it. A lot goes into playing football at a collegiate level and high school kids need to be willing to sacrifice a lot of things that non-collegiate athletes do.