365 Sports Network currently features dozens and dozens of interviews with a mixture of athletes and we will continue to publish more and more interviews as time goes on. If you are interested in being interviewed and if you are an athlete either in the college or professional ranks please email me at JustinKish@365SportsNetwork.com and we will communicate for a possible interview.
In today’s interview, I am joined by Eastern Washington linebacker John Kreifels.
Justin David Kish: Thank you so much for the time John, can you please tell us about you?
John Kreifels: My name is John Kreifels and I was born in Sacramento, California. My birth mother was a drug addict and I was raised with my two brothers on and off the streets of Sacramento. At the age of three, I was put into foster care. I spent two years in foster care until my parents adopted me at the age of five. When I was adopted, this gave me a second chance at life. At a young age, my parents encouraged me to be involved in sports such as football, basketball, and baseball, and I excelled in them. My parents held me to a higher standard in school and sports than most of my peers. I had to maintain at least a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to play sports. My parents taught me to be prepared for my game, show respect and sportsmanship, and be accountable for my actions. Having them implement these values was a great portion of my success I had during my sports career.
Justin David Kish: You played college football at Eastern Washington, tell us about your time at Eastern Washington?
John Kreifels: During my attendance at Eastern Washington University, I learned the value of time management as a student-athlete. I learned how to work with different personalities, especially during conflicts. I had to adapt to different coaching philosophies. I also learned that on and off the field, I always had to represent Eastern Washington University in a positive manner.
Justin David Kish: During your tenure at Eastern Washington you played under head coach Beau Baldwin and defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding. What did you learn under both coaches and how have they improved you as a player?
John Kreifels: Coach Baldwin was a supporting coach on and off the field. He showed personal support for you through the rough times and good times. Coach Baldwin taught me to admit my mistakes and how to correct the situation. He was a coach, mentor, and a father figure. He showed me how to work with my teammates and he groomed me as a team player and man. Coach Schmedding enhanced my football IQ by teaching me different schemes and working with me individually to help me reach my full potential as a football player. I came in as a linebacker and redshirted in 2013 after the coaches noticed my athleticism and I converted to safety. He worked with me gaining more knowledge as a safety when it came to things like manning up on receivers, how to be more efficient with my technique and all this helped me improve as a player.
Justin David Kish: Playing for an FCS Powerhouse you competed against some of the best teams in the FBS and FCS. When you look back at your career what is one game that really took you to your limits?
John Kreifels: When I look back on my career, signing to Eastern Washington University was the best decision. I look back on playing against some of the top-ranked teams like the University of Oregon, North Dakota State and Northern Arizona University. These were some of the most intense college stages I have been on due to their rigorous crowds which made it nearly impossible to communicate with my teammates at times. Playing on those platforms gave me the opportunity to compete against some of the best collegiate athletes in the nation. I felt my level of play was elevated each time I had the opportunity to play against a big tier team. Speed is a key factor in football, playing University of Oregon tested my strength, speed and agility, I had never been on a field where the speed of the game was like that.
Justin David Kish: Being a linebacker you have battle head on some of the best offensive linemen in the FCS and FBS. Who was one lineman that really took you to your limits and how did you favor?
John Kreifels: As a hybrid linebacker the best linemen I competed against were two of my teammates, Aaron Neary and Jake Rodgers. These were two of my former teammates I went against every day in practice. They both were athletically gifted and knew how to play their position at a high level. They were genuinely talented at their positions and they were able to lock up cross blitzes or me blitzing off the edge which forced me to figure out ways to get around them. L learned to bet them with my speed, but I could never go head to head or they would overpower me which was something I wasn’t used to, so I was forced to figure new ways to beat them. I had to take them on with my speed and I had to knock their hands down and then go back to using my speed to my advantage to get around the edge. Both of them are now on NFL teams and tremendous competitors. I feel they both had a big part in helping me develop more as a player due to the fact that they made me realize that I had to be smart as well as physical on the field.
Justin David Kish: During your time at Eastern Washington, you created so many great memories with your brothers on the field. What is one memory that stands out from the rest?
John Kreifels: There are many memories that I will live with the rest of my life but the most outstanding moments were the three times we won Big Sky Championships. During my career at Eastern Washington University, we won 57 games and lost 14. I will never forget the championships due to the fact I know all the hard work we put into earning. In the off seasons me and a large majority of my teammates would all gather and workout, run one on ones as well as seven on sevens every single day we didn’t have practice. I saw and was apart of the countless hours and effort we put into winning those championships which is why they mean that much more to me.
Justin David Kish: Let’s shift our focus to draft related questions. How are you currently preparing for the draft, your Pro Day and future pro opportunities?
John Kreifels: Since the season has ended In order to prepare myself for my future endeavors in the game, I’ve been working with a personal trainer Monday through Friday in Manteca, California. We start at 6am, work on drills primarily focused on my 40-yard dash, vertical, 5 10 5 shuttles, as well as working on specific drills to make me more versatile on the field. For instance, I’ve been doing a lot of different backpedal drills and breaks so if needed. I can be a hybrid safety. I also am on a strict diet in which I’m constantly keeping track of my calorie intake and working on getting the best nutrition for my body.
Justin David Kish: How was your chemistry with your teammates at Eastern Washington?
John Kreifels: Throughout my career at Eastern the bond my team had was very strong the chemistry we shared as teammates was a brotherhood. We all broke after drills saying FOE, which means “Family Over Everything”. We all were on the same page, which helped make us a dynasty. We all shared the same goal, to be the best.
Justin David Kish: What is one area of your game do you consider your biggest strength?
John Kreifels: One area of my game I consider as my biggest strength would be the versatility I have when it comes to playing different positions as well as tackling someone in open space.
Justin David Kish: What is one area of your game you are improving on?
John Kreifels: One area I am working to improve on is learning how to drop better as a backer and get more range covered depending on what the coverage it is.
Justin David Kish: What were your on-the-field responsibilities?
John Kreifels: My on the field responsibilities were to set the field strength so my defensive ends and linebackers knew where to line up. If we were in zone coverage, I had to communicate the call to everybody or if I wanted to man up on a receiver I had to communicate danger checks to my safeties. If we had blitzes, I had to communicate “Two Man” or “Three Man” depending on the offensive open front, or if there was a spray set (empty formation on offense) I could communicate switch calls so my Sam linebacker would blitz and I would drop to coverage.
Justin David Kish: What is your preparation for game day like?
John Kreifels: My preparation for game day consists of waking up early and arriving at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule for my walkthrough. After walkthrough, I would go to the locker room and set up my uniform, pads, etc., so that after our team breakfast I would be organized and prepared to dress out before team warm-ups. Prior to game time, I focus on dressing and mentally preparing for the game. I review my safety tip sheet that has all coverages and shifts in motions based on my opponents film. I stay calm by listening to upbeat music and preparing mentally for the game.
Justin David Kish: With time away from football, what is a normal day off like for you?
John Kreifels: On days off, I wake up around 6am, eat a light breakfast, and head over to the gym for a couple hours to work out on my speed, agility, and power. After that, I go home, shower, and get ready for school leaving fifteen minutes early so I arrive early to class. After classes, I come home and start on some of my homework assignments so that I can stay ahead of schedule. Once I’m done with my homework, my roommate, Tyson and I head to the gym for at least an hour workout then come home to eat a high protein meal. I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.
Justin David Kish: Do you have the ability to command the players around you?
John Kreifels: I was a team captain in high school so I know how to lead by example. Giving advice is one of my specialties. The best way to command players is to build their trust with your actions so that they trust in your work ethic and your consistency.
Justin David Kish: In the next couple of questions, I am going to put you on the spot. If you could compare yourself to any current NFL linebacker who would it be and why?
John Kreifels: If I could compare myself to an NFL linebacker it would have to be Deone Bucannon due to his smaller stature and the physicality in which he plays with when on the field.
Justin David Kish: Lastly, if I was an NFL General Manager why should I draft John Kreifels?
John Kreifels: If a general manager chose to draft me I would take full advantage of every opportunity if it had to start with special teams and make my way up the depth chart. You should draft John Kreifels because he will give them 110% consistency and effort every day.