Q & A With Zach Pascal; Journey to the NFL

Paul Williams: So first things first; how does it feel to be a Washington Redskin?

Zach Pascal: It feels great! Man, it’s just great. I feel blessed for the opportunity. In this league. A lot of people don't get a chance to put their foot in the door, so it’s a real blessing.

Paul Williams: Tell me a little bit about your draft weekend experience. Going through seven rounds and not hearing your name called, but then came that phone call from the Redskins and realizing your goal to make it to the NFL. Go through your emotions from that evening.

Zach Pascal: I would say that was probably the longest day of my life. Hearing guys being called, and still being happy for them, but waiting for still waiting for my name to be called. Once I actually got the call, I was excited. I actually got a call from my agent and he actually told me that the Redskins wanted me. I actually had about maybe 13 or 14 teams call. I was just happy that I would get to stay home with my friends and family, being that I'm from Maryland.

Paul Williams: Yeah, I did read that you had 13 different teams call you and that the Redskins, Jets and Texans were your favorites to choose from. What made you choose the Redskins?

Zach Pascal: Well, it was my agent helped me. He basically just told me the Redskins just lost two big receivers and basically it would be my best opportunity to make the 53-man roster. Being able to have the best opportunity to make the 53-man was why I chose being here.

Paul Williams: Right. So you get the phone call from the Redskins. What did they tell you? What did they say that they loved about your game and what they thought you could do for them? Tell me about that first phone call and what they told you.

Zach Pascal: Basically they just explained they liked my size and the speed that I have. They said that I had very strong hands. They said that they'd be able to work with me and play more of a Z-option receiver, which is different from what I played in college. I played more of the slot. I told them I was ready to come in and work and that I was thankful for the opportunity. 

Paul Williams: Great. So, as we talked about earlier, you grew up in Upper Marlboro, which is right down the street from FedExField. You went to Wise High School and played for Coach Parrish. Went to Old Dominion University, which is still very much in Redskins territory. Now you're back in the area playing for the hometown team. Tell me a little bit about what it’s like to be back in the area competing in front of family and friends.

Zach Pascal: It feels great, ya know, because a lot of my support is home. A lot of my support is at home. My family is home. It’s a blessing to play in front of them. Everyone encouraging me and giving me tips on how to maintain and stay focused and not worry about a lot of other stuff. It feels great to be able to put on for my hometown.

Paul Williams: For our readers that may not know much about Zach Pascal, tell them a little bit about the player you are and the player you're striving to become.

Zach Pascal: I'm a very passionate player. I'm very passionate about this game. A lot of people are blessed to play this game and I don't take nothing for granted. One thing I like to do is to have fun and just ball. Do what I can do and add my own little mix to it. I look out for others just how others look out for me. This game is a very physical game and that is what I try to bring to it every time. I love to block. I love that to show on the field. When it comes to big plays and stuff, man, I just try to have fun and enjoy the moment because you never know when that moment is going to come again. I'm striving to be a leader in this league. I want to eventually want to be a leader in this league and lead by example and help kids who are my age to reach their goals, as well. 

Paul Williams: Right, I definitely agree. I know some players hate player comparisons, but if you had a make a player comp for yourself, who would it be? Do you try to mold your game after any players in particular?

Zach Pascal: Definitely Dez Bryant. He is a big, physical guy. You can tell that he has so much passion for the game and he has fun with it no matter what. That is who I kinda I try to model my game after. He can go over the top of body you, it doesn't matter. He will do whatever it takes to win the game.

Paul Williams: When I was getting ready for this interview, I watched a couple of you highlight videos. I actually caught one of your games at ODU. I always thought you had a Dez Bryant quality to your game. You're big & physical. You can out jump DBs and box out DBs. So I think that is a very good comparison for you. 

Zach Pascal: Yes sir!

Paul Williams: Tell me a little bit about how it was to participate in your first ever mini-camp. Seeing guys like Kirk Cousins out there and being in position drills with Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor and lining up against high profile players like Josh Norman. Just tell me about the vibe of being out there with some of the NFL's best players.

Zach Pascal: I know the first day when we were stretching, it kinda hit me like, "WOWWW, I'm really in the NFL." Once we started running routes and things like that, catching passes, a couple days went by and I got accustomed to it. Its just football again. So it wasn't a big difference for me. But it did hit me in the first couple practices that I actually am in this league and it is real. I was happy about that. Once everything starting going, I felt like I was just playing football again.

Paul Williams: Anyone that follows you on Twitter can see you're a hard working guy. You're always posting videos of you working out and working hard. You're dedicated to making yourself better a better player. You also make it known you're a man of great faith, you're always praising God for your blessings. What motivates you most? What inspires you to be a great? Whether it is your family, your faith, going undrafted? What makes you tick?

Zach Pascal: Honestly, it’s the doubters. I've had doubters a lot in my life. A lot of people down on me on whether or not I can or can't do something. It takes pride and it takes courage to be able to prove someone wrong. It’s hard to make it this far and just slack off. I have people that look up to me, like my little sister. I don't ever want to allow her to think its okay to just get where you want to go and because you made it, it’s okay to slack off. Getting here actually made me work harder and I know that in this league, everyone is trying to take someone's job. It makes me want to work even harder.

Paul Williams: What would you say you want to work on most headed into camp? What do you think your strengths you're most proud of are and weaknesses that you're trying to sharpen leading up to camp?

Zach Pascal: Being the size that I am, my footwork has gotten a lot better. I've been in Tampa with Murphy and Reidel Anthony and they've helped me work on the footwork at the top of my routes. I feel like the best part of my game is playing physical with the DB. Being to get off the line and make aggressive and tough catches. But one thing I do want to learn is and improve on is my deep ball skills. Catching over my shoulder and becoming a better deep ball threat.

Paul Williams: I'm sure you've only had a few interactions with Jay Gruden, whether it is on the phone or in mini-camp or OTAs. We always hear that is a brilliant offensive mind. Based on the interactions, what could you say about him? Have you been able to pick up on what we all hear about him being an offensive leader?

Zach Pascal: Yeah, he’s awesome! He’s a player's coach. He loves to have fun. He loves to make practice fun and make the games fun. He makes players want to play for him. He doesn't take a lot of things too serious. He knows what its like to play this game so he continues to allow this game to be fun for us and have the time of our lives playing this game.

Paul Williams: You've only been in the NFL for three months, but what adjustments have you had to make so far going from a smaller school like Old Dominion to playing in the NFL? And in that short time, if there is one lesson you've had to learn so far what would it be?

Zach Pascal: Everyday is a day to get better. And the day that you slack off could be your last day. Also the speed of the game is MUCH faster. It’s so much more than just trying to get the football in the end zone. You have to know defenses. You have to know coverages. You have to know timing and the protection you have. Stuff like that. 

Paul Williams: You obviously have a talented group of veteran receivers with you on the roster. Jamison Crowder, brought in Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson was a first-round pick last year. Have you reached out to any of them yet to get some tips on what it takes to make it in the NFL? Have anyone of them reached out to you or taken you under their wing and show you the ropes?

Zach Pascal: Yeah, I've reached out to Jamison Crowder a couple times. He trains out here in Tampa, as well so I try and take as much as I can from him and watch him practice. Terrelle Pryor, I've worked out with him a couple times, too. After practice and things like that. Seeing how he approaches certain routes and how he handles pressure. I what to know what he does become a great receiver.

Paul Williams: What do you believe separates you from the other receivers that will be competing for a roster spot? And what do you think you can offer to the Redskins that they may not necessarily already have? What do you think separates you from the rest of the guys on the roster?

Zach Pascal: I'm willing to do it all. If you want me to run down on kickoffs and make a tackle, that is what I'm going to do. If you need me to block for somebody on a kick return, if you need me to go in and block a punt, be a blocker, make a play, that is what I'm going to do. I'm not about being a ME, ME, ME guy. I want to go in and help the team. I feel like I'm that type of person that'll do whatever it takes, no matter what. That is how I played football coming up, whatever it takes. Coming from ODU, a lot of guys don't make it to the NFL. A lot of guys don't make it to the combine. Once I find out what I needed to do, that is exactly what I was going to do. I had to play special teams all four year. I knew I'd have to play special teams to make it to the NFL, but I did and had no problems doing it. I feel like that is what I'm going to bring to the table, every play, every down and every game. That is what separates me. 

Paul Williams: Lastly, just give me a final few words on your mentality heading into your first ever NFL training camp. What are your goals, what do you want to accomplish and just how you're feeling. A week away from the biggest six weeks of your life, just tell me how you're feeling.

Zach Pascal: Man, right now, I'm so anxious. I've been putting in A LOT of work this past month. I know a lot of guys take this time to vacation and stuff like that, but everyday I've been working, working working NON STOP! I've been praying and I know U have faith that my savior, my God will work it out for me. But I'm just ready and anxious to go out there and play football and have fun because I know I have gotten better. I'm ready to prove every down and have fun playing football

Paul Williams: That was great, Zach. That is all I have for you. Thank you again for making time to speak with me, you gave me some really great answers. I want you to know that I am rooting for you and I think you have a really great game and you're really fun to watch. A lot of Redskins fans are going to have fun watching you next week.

Zach Pascal: Thank you Paul, I really do appreciate it.

We'd like to thank Zach, as well as Chris Coy from Play It Coy Sports Management Firm. An audio version of this interview will be available Monday, exclusively on FiftyGut.com