C Keith Ismael

 

On coming from a football family:

“It’s influenced me hugely. My dad played football. He played football at Florida A&M in college. My uncle, he played defensive end at Oregon. Another one of my uncles, he played quarterback at Stanford, now he’s offensive coordinator. And another one of my uncles, he was drafted in the first round by the [Atlanta] Falcons back in the 70s. So, football is in my blood. It definitely drove my passion. It wasn’t the determining factor in me playing the sport when I was young, but it definitely helps to come from a football family. It’s just given me a lot of insight, you know. I have a lot of resources, a lot of family that have played that have given me knowledge over the years, just how to play the game and the right way to approach it.”

 

On going to football games as a kid:

“No, I mean we went to games every year with my uncle, Tavita Pritchard. He used to play quarterback at Stanford. We used to go to his games every year, but, I mean, that’s just football. I’ve watched it since I was young with my dad – NFL, college. We used to watch tape, watch his old games. So, football is in me.”

 

On when he thought he had a shot of getting drafted:

“It wasn’t really until towards the middle of my college career. I went into college just trying to be the best collegiate player, best teammate that I could be for the San Diego State Aztecs and also get my degree. But it was after my Sophomore season – my redshirt Sophomore season, I got my accolades, first-team all non-West. I think it was really at that point, my dreams kind of started to look more like a reality with more reach. It was always a dream of mine since I was a kid. Obviously, all kids playing football growing up want to go play in the National Football League, but I think it was probably towards the middle of my college career that I really saw that it was in arms reach and I could really go out and get it.”

 

On if there was a particular game that showed him that:

“I think it was just my consistent play. I was going out there and I was beating the competition week-in and week-out. I was showing signs of professional level play and ability that could put me in a position to compete for a starting job and starting at the next level. I was just doing things ‒ my body was developing, my mental approach to the game was developing. Then, I saw that I could really turn this into something special and into a career and be professional.”

 

On if he sees himself as a center or guard:

“I think I have the ability to play both. I played all three interiors [positions] at San Diego State. My offensive line coach, [San Diego State Offensive Line] Coach [Mike] Schmidt, he put a lot of responsibility on me to lead the line. Wherever he needed me week-in and week-out, I was ready to play. He rotated me in over my years at right guard and at center, so I feel comfortable playing all positions. Wherever they need me, I’m willing to put the work in to contribute.”

 

On what his draft party was like:

“It was a small gathering. We tried to adhere to the rules with the pandemic going on today. We want to keep people safe. I come from a really big family on my dad’s side and on my mom’s side, and I have a lot of close friends. A lot of people wanted to be here, but we tried to keep it safe and play our part in fighting this pandemic, so I kept it really close. My agents are here, my mom, my dad, my close and immediate family and best friends came down from the Bay area. They’re down here. Beautiful day out, beautiful weather. God came through and blessed me with this opportunity, so I’m just really happy right now.”

 

On whether it was tough to turn people away from his draft party:

“It was. It was definitely tough because I’m really close with a lot of people. I have a lot of good people in my life that have supported me and loved me through this entire process, starting in high school all the way through college and even before that. There are a lot of people that wanted to be a part of this day. Obviously, a lot of people couldn’t make it like I said because of the virus. But those that felt comfortable that we extended the invite, came and showed their love and support.”

 

On how big his dad’s family is:

“My dad’s family? I couldn’t even put a number on it. We span across multiple states. Like I said, in L.A. I’m from the Bay Area – there are hundreds of us up there – Seattle-area, Portland-area, Las Vegas, American Samoa – so they go back all the way to the islands. I have a huge family and I’ll probably be hearing from a large majority that are going to come in the next day or so.”

 

On what it was like to finally hear his name called:

“I’m at a loss for words. It’s a dream come true. Heart dropped a little bit, some tears were shed, but out of happiness, pure joy. This has been a goal of mine since I was a kid. So for it to finally come into fruition, I couldn’t be happier. Another person I want to thank besides my parents is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He guided me and he brought me along this path, stood by my side when I felt down and lifted me up. I just want to thank him and give him all the glory and praise.”