One of the great things about the all-star games that are considered the beginning of the NFL draft process everyone a chance to see how the small-school hopefuls who dominated their level and are stepping up to face the big boys will match up.
One of those small school players who has caught the NFL’s attention this season is John Cominsky, a defensive end who played at Division II Charleston.
Cominsky earned an invite to the Senior Bowl and it didn’t take long for him to have his “do I belong here?” moment. It came on his first play of the first Senior Bowl practice. Cominsky recently spent some time chatting with Big Blue View for the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast.
Let’s let him explain what happened on that very first rep:
“I’d say it was my very first play of practice. My very first play I got up and here comes big Kansas State [Dalton Risner] coming at me. He’s lining up. He’s big, he’s strong. I’m thinking in my mind ’OK, here we go. The moment of truth,’” Cominsky said.
“Anybody from Division II is going to be like ‘OK, here’s my chance. Here’s where I really find out where I’m at and if I’m going to be able to hang.’
“So rep 1 Kansas State comes up to me and I’m playing the 5 technique, outside shoulder of the tackle. It’s thrown away from me. I listened to what my coach said and I got into that tackle as hard as I could and I put him right on his butt.
“I was like, ‘alright I came from Division II and I put this guy on his butt. Here I am. I belong.’”
Defensive end? Really?
Cominsky was a 215-pound quarterback at Barberton High School who had no Division I scholarship offers. He landed at Charleston with no idea he would be a defensive end.
“When I showed up at orientation that first day and d-end was next to my name my head kind of turned around. My stomach kinda flipped, I’m like ‘oh, crap, defensive end, dude, I’m tiny, I’m 215 pounds. That’s so different. I’ve never played defensive end before,” Cominsky said.
“I was a little shocked about it, but I was so open-minded. I went to Charleston because they were my first offer, my only offer, so I was open-minded when I went there. I’m thinking, I’ll be equipment helper if I have to. I just want to be on this college team, that was really my mindset … I was ready to do whatever it took to be on that team.”
Growing into a star
After red-shirting as a freshman and admitting that “I got my butt whooped on practice squad for a year,” Cominsky began a process of weight training, eating and working that saw him grow into a dominant 6-foot-5, 285-pound player who has NFL teams intrigued.
Cominsky had 6.5 sacks and 73 tackles in 2017, earning Division II preseason second-team All-America honors.
“It’s just been stepping up every single year. I’ve gotten nothing but better, I haven’t stale-mated. I’ve only improved since I got to Charleston,” Cominsky said.
Bigger and better
Cominsky believes he is just scratching the surface of his ability.
“I think there’s probably five or six tiers above me where I’m at now. I went in there [Charleston] with a blank slate. I had nothing. I’ve developed over four years, but what I developed through four years maybe a kid developed through high school,” Cominsky said.
“I think now it’s time to start learning a little bit more technical stuff … I don’t even think it’s just one more step, I think it’s probably three or four tiers that I have to get to.”
Scouting reports reference Cominsky’s intriguing athleticism for a man his size. He told Big Blue View maintaining and improving it is something he has been conscious of throughout the time he has been packing on the pounds.
“If I think of my audience as being kids in college or kids that are in high school listening the biggest thing that I learned through experience was on top of putting on the weight you have to consistently be doing things around your athleticism, whatever that is. For me it was working the ladder, doing sprints, changing direction a lot, doing jumps, going and playing basketball a little bit, making sure I’m still athletic on a basketball court, box jumps, anything that challenges your athleticism.
“In my eyes I think I gained athleticism because I worked on those things. It’s not just working on getting bigger and stronger.”
He thinks he can get bigger.
“I think I have 20-25 pounds that I believe I could gain and maintain athleticism. Over my four years at Charleston I kind of developed a notion of myself knowing my body fat and what it can handle. I’m super light on my feet right now. I’m as light as I’ve ever been at 285 … I feel like I’m back to 245. I’m jumping out of the gym and I’m cutting like I’m 245 again,” Cominsky said.
“I could easily be 305, 310 and run the same speed.”
Cominsky talked about a lot more during our 20-minute conversation. Please give the show a listen below.
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