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2021 NFL Draft: Introducing Willie Eubanks III, Citadel’s tackling machine

The Citadel Athletics

Citadel’s Willie Eubanks III was incredibly productive for the Bulldogs last season while serving as the heart and soul of their defense. Eubanks III served as their defensive anchor and unquestioned leader up the middle.

Eubanks III recently spoke with MCM about his impressive 2019 campaign, why he returned for his senior season, and why he has hope that he’ll receive an invite to the 2021 Senior Bowl.

JM: You had a terrific 2019 season. You finished the year with 112 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Expectations are going to be high for you in 2020. How can you ensure you meet those expectations?

WEIII: The best way for me to meet those expectations is to just go out there and play the way I did last year. That’s the honest truth. I’ve worked my tail off this entire off-season. As long as I go out there and perform, I should have another strong year.

JM: There’s no doubt about that. Despite having a big season, you still decided to return for your senior season. Walk me through that decision.

WEIII: When I first decided to come to Citadel, it was for educational purposes. It’s a strong school academically. I’m the first one in my family to go to college. I wanted to finish up my last year and be the first one in my family to graduate. I’m just trying to make my family proud.

JM: Congratulations on that in advance. That’s amazing.

WEIII: Thank you so much.

JM: What’s your favorite part about playing the linebacker position?

WEIII: We’re always around the football. That’s my favorite part of playing this position. Everything flows through us. We’re in on the action most of the time. It always gives us a chance to be around the ball. That gives us a terrific opportunity to make plays. That’s the best part about it.

JM: What can you tell me about the scheme Citadel runs on defense?

WEIII: We run a 3-4 defense. We have three down-linemen with two outside linebackers that are primarily utilized as pass rushers. We have two inside linebackers. Our scheme allows for different coverages. It gives us a chance to disguise what we’re doing. It’s all about making plays.

JM: Do you prefer coming downhill in the run game or dropping back into pass coverage?

WEIII: Honestly, I love doing both. I’m locked in throughout the whole game. We’ve faced a lot of strong running offenses throughout my college career so I’ve become a really good downhill player. It really depends on our opponent, but I’ve really developed as a downhill linebacker. When we face teams that spread the ball around, it gives me a chance to drop back into coverage.

JM: That’s great. Is there one NFL quarterback that you’d love to tackle or sack?

WEIII: If I could tackle or sack one NFL quarterback, I would probably have to go with Lamar Jackson. The way he’s lead his team over the past few seasons, his level of play, that would be a fun one.

JM: We don’t disagree. This is your senior season. As you go through the draft process in a few months time, you’re going to get labeled as a “small school prospect.” It’s inevitable. How will you respond?

WEIII: Honestly, I just plan on showing everybody what I can do. I wasn’t really recruited coming out of high school. I wasn’t even ranked. I’ve always had this chip on my shoulder, I’ve always played like that. I’ve been underrated my entire career. It would just be another chip on my shoulder really.

JM: I love that. Jim Nagy recently mentioned you as being on the Senior Bowl watch-list. How much would that invite mean to you?

WEIII: It would mean a lot to me. The last player that went to the Senior Bowl from Citadel was linebacker Myles Pierce. He went to the Senior Bowl in 2017. When I saw him, he gave me one of his Senior Bowl shirts. Ever since then, I’ve been using that as motivation. He proved that a kid from Citadel can get an invite if you work hard enough. That would be a dream come true for me.

JM: That’s a great story. We’d love to see you there next year. In closing, what can Citadel fans expect from Willie Eubanks III in 2020?

WEIII: They can expect to see No. 9 flying around making plays all over the field. It’s my senior season and we’re going to make it a special one. I’m trying to bring a championship home.