The 2020 NFL draft could be remembered for having one of the best wide receiver classes of all time should many of the prospects live up to their potential. The class is loaded with big and speedy receivers from big schools that will have a chance to separate themselves throughout this process.
But teams and fans alike would be wise not to overlook Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt’s lengthy play maker. Lipscomb has been a consistent performer in the SEC over the past four seasons, and he’ll have a chance to prove himself at the Senior Bowl.
Lipscomb recently spoke exclusively with MCM about what he’s out to prove in Mobile, the intricacies of his route running and how the city of Nashville changed him forever.
JM: Where were you when you found out about your Senior Bowl invite and what was your initial reaction like?
KL: The moment I found out I was invited to the Senior Bowl was actually when coach [Derek] Mason told me. It was pretty casual if I’m being honest with you. Of course I was very appreciative to receive the news. I feel very blessed and very grateful. Coach Mason told me and they presented actual invite to me when it came in the mail. We did a little thing at a team meeting on a Tuesday morning since we had some other invitees.
JM: A bunch of you got invited.
KL: Yeah, three of us to be exact.
.@seniorbowl met w/ @VandyFootball prospects TE Jared Pinkney, RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and WR Kalija Lipscomb at #SECMD19. Not a better group of “triplets” in nation. Coach Mason has proven to recruits that you can go to Vandy for an top-notch education and also be a high NFL pick. pic.twitter.com/XhPmlGFZZ8— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 18, 2019
JM: It’s a big opportunity for you. What’s the impression you’re hoping to leave out there?
KL: I think I’ve shown that I can compete against top end talent on a weekly basis. I think I’ve put up pretty good numbers over the course of my four year career. With that being said, a couple of the things I definitely want to emphasize are my competitiveness and I know that some people have questions about my speed. I’m hoping to address that. I know that some people have acknowledged that I’m a pretty good route runner and I wanna show that off a little bit. There’s a bunch of little things that I’d love to prove out there.
JM: Speaking of your route running, do you have a favorite route to run?
KL: Nah, not really. I think by me playing pretty much every receiver position in college, I ran every route that you could run, from three-step hitches to eight-step posts. I’ve run everything there is to run. A true technician of a route runner doesn’t have a favorite in my opinion. Whatever my coach gives me, I feel like I have the ability to win.
JM: I love that. This process you’re about to go through is a special process and it only happens once. It’s a tiring process, but it’s an amazing experience. What are you most excited for?
KL: Sheesh. I’m just excited to get started. I wasn’t always sure if I’d even be going through this process. The closer it’s getting, the more my nerves are building up. I think once those nerves get released and we get back to football, it’s going to be a fun experience for me.
Most missed tackles forced after the catch –— Cam Mellor (@PFF_Cam) November 6, 2019
Jauan Jennings, Tennessee - 21
Maurice Ffrench, Pittsburgh - 19
Devin Duvernay, Texas - 18
Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt - 17
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest - 15
Ceedee Lamb, Oklahoma - 14
Bryan Edwards, South Carolina - 14
JM: Who do you think are some of the best cornerbacks you’ve ever gone up against throughout your time at Vanderbilt?
KL: Deandre Baker at Georgia immediately comes to mind. He was solid. I went up against my favorite cornerback on a weekly basis. I’m talking about my teammate, Joejuan Williams who’s with the New England Patriots now. We went up against each other every day in practice. He’s the all-around best player I’ve ever played against. I don’t mean to leave anybody out but those guys definitely come to mind. There’s a lot of good corners out there. I played against some amazing three-star recruits. It’s the SEC and talent comes in all shapes and sizes. The talent ranges from five-star recruits to guys who were completely unranked. You can make a name for yourself in the SEC.
JM: You get a little bit of everything in the SEC. If there was one NFL quarterback you could catch a pass from, who would it be and why?
KL: I would probably pick Drew Brees. That’s just my personal choice because he’s had such a big impact on my home city [New Orleans]. That would be very cool for me. Other than that, I don’t really have a preference. I didn’t have a favorite team growing up or anything like that. There isn’t one quarterback that I would choose over another. At this point, I’m just excited about the opportunity to play in the league. I understand there’s different levels to it but I think every quarterback in the NFL reached that level for a good reason.
Kalija Lipscomb was brilliant on 3rd/4th down for Vanderbilt: he caught 74 percent of his targets, totaled six touchdowns with 10 contested catches and a 134.0 passer rating when targeted. pic.twitter.com/MjTMGBtyAG— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 2, 2019
JM: There’s no doubt about that. I know you’ve had a lot of great teammates throughout your time at Vanderbilt, but if you were going to war tomorrow and could only bring one with you, who would it be and why?
KL: Wow, that’s a tough question. Let me ask you this though. What kind of war is this? Is this us two against a thousand guys, or is it more of a strategic battle that requires us to move in silence and maybe infiltrate a base?
JM: I’ve never been asked that before but I appreciate how much thought your putting into this (laughs). I’m gonna say it’s even numbers but it’s chaos. It’s not overly strategic. You need someone in the trenches with you that you can count on.
KL: That’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t want anybody to feel slighted. I don’t want anybody to read this and be like damn dog, why didn’t you pick me? So the scenario is that it’s even numbers and we just have to survive. I gotta think of somebody that isn’t gonna let me get shot (laughs). I feel like all of the guys that I’m really close with at Vandy, the guys that have my back, I’m gonna go with safety Frank Coppet. He got hurt this season and he didn’t play much. He’s done well for us and I think he’s gonna do even better next year. He’s a smart, strategic guy. I think he would keep me alive the longest (laughs).
JM: I love that. Normally when I ask this question, guys just think of who their craziest teammate is (laughs).
KL: That’s why I asked you what kind of war it is! Are we gonna die and we just gotta take out as many guys as we can? I would have had different answers depending on the scenario (laughs). It could have been a different person.
JM: You mentioned what Drew Brees means to your hometown of New Orleans. In closing, you went to Vanderbilt and adopted Nashville as your second home at that point. What does Nashville mean to you?
KL: Nashville will forever represent a period of change for me that I needed but I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t always want that change because I couldn’t see the bigger picture at the time. That’s what will always stick out to me about Nashville. It’s almost like a butterfly that went into the cocoon. I came to Nashville at 18 years old and I’m a very different person now than I was then. The change was natural and the city of Nashville, the campus of Vanderbilt gave that to me. I’m very thankful for that.