Los Angeles Rams: DTR Sits Down With UDFA Jack Snyder

by Nikko Buenavidez
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The Los Angeles Rams signed San Jose State Center Jack Snyder as a UDFA. Downtown Rams sat down to talk with him before training camp.

Let’s start off at the beginning of your football career when and why did you start playing football?

So when I played in middle school, I played a lot of positions, but I was mostly a defensive end. And then I played a little wide receiver to actually. And then in high school, I played defensive end in O line, my freshman year, and a little bit of tight end, and then I moved to OL, I got pulled up to varsity my sophomore year in a basically just been an offensive lineman since then.

Speaking of high school, I know you went to Marin Catholic. Are you also aware that Jared Goff went there as well?

I am. Yeah, we actually spent a year as teammates. His senior year was my sophomore year of high school.

Oh, that’s awesome. Do you have a relationship with him? Did he shoot you a text when you came into the league?

Yeah, he texted me after I signed with the Rams just congratulating me and just said, like, reach out if I ever needed anything. So he’s a cool guy. You know, I was I was a sophomore when he was a senior. So we weren’t necessarily like the best of friends. But he’s definitely been a good guy whenever we’ve talked and stuff like that.

Moving onto your time at San Jose, how do you feel,  the coaches and the program kind of prepared you for going into the league?

Yeah, you know, I think I had a pretty, like special opportunity of getting to play since my freshman year. So even including COVID, I was like a five year starter, basically. And so I think just them having trust in me when I was so young. And I think that helped me a lot early on in my career. Then the last couple of years, I feel like Josh being my offensive line coach, he really kind of helped me take that next step in my game last couple of years.

You departed there, as the record holder for the most starts and games played, What do you think that experience does for you as a player?

I think the best way to get better at football is playing games. You know, obviously, practice is a good time to improve your skills, but you get better the fastest actually playing in live games, in my opinion. So I think just having that many games under my belt kind of gives me definitely gives me an advantage and helps me like see the game faster and stuff like that.

What tape in college should people watch to see what kind of player you are?

I feel like I played pretty well against San Diego State last both of the last two years. I feel like I had good games against them. And they’re a pretty good defense too. So that’s one of the ones I’m proud of.

Moving on to the Shrine Bowl, tell me about, practice, and your overall experience that week, what was that like going to Vegas?

Yeah, that was an awesome experience. I got along with all the offensive linemen, they’re super great. We still we have a group chat that we still texting here and there. And that week was my first time being an interior guy.

It was a little bit of an adjustment period for me at first because I played tackle all of college, but I feel like I picked it up pretty quickly, especially after the first day, I felt a lot more comfortable there. Which kind of gave me a better idea of what to expect being an interior guy now with the Rams. So it was definitely a very helpful week and getting to go against like, some of the best players in college football is always gonna make you better too

Tell me more about what it was like to be a student-athlete, especially during COVID and the challenges you must have faced

Yeah, you know, it’s a lot.  I never really struggled too much and when I was doing my undergrad, but once I got to grad school, and the assignments got longer, and there was more reading and stuff like that, I kind of found myself having to be a lot more efficient with my time.

You know, I finished up my thesis, which was, I think, like, 20,000 words, and like 85 pages I want to say. So doing that was definitely that was a grind. And just like being able to balance that with football and working out and stuff can be hard, but as long as you stay on top of it, which I feel like I did a pretty good job of it doesn’t really get too overwhelming.

Are there any NFL players you watch, you know, when you model your game after?

Yeah, so being a being a tackle. Off college, I’ve mostly watched tackles, Lane Johnson and Terron Armstead were two guys that I watched a decent amount of film on. I feel like I, when I was playing tackle at San Jose, I feel like I had a similar playing style to Lane Johnson. So I like to watch him and just see like the small things that he would do.

I actually had the opportunity to meet him last summer and be able to like talk to him one on one about some stuff, which I thought was pretty helpful. And yeah, and then since I’ve been with the Rams, I’ve really I’ve really just been watching a lot of rams film of Dave Edwards, Brian Allen, Corbs from last year, and then. Yeah, those guys, those guys put a lot of good film out there for me to watch and learn from so.

Speaking of tackles, did you get the experience to talk to Andrew Whitworth?

Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple of times. He’s he came to, I think, two practices during OTAs. And then the rookies were actually at  the same event as him. We all went to one of the LAFC games together. So I’ve been able to talk to him a couple of times. You know, anyone who’s played as long as him, especially at offensive line, you know, any, just anything you can get from them is invaluable.

What’s something that you’re still trying to work on?

So I’ve actually been working on snapping, you know, being a being a tackle my whole career in college it’s definitely different than the interior but there’s not a major difference between tackle and guard. Like mentally at least but playing center and like just like focusing on snapping before like you start blocking and stuff like that is probably the biggest thing I’ve been working on just being consistent with my snaps.

Did the Rams show interest in you, post-draft and how quickly did that deal get done?

Yeah, it was pretty quick. I think literally like the second that the last pick was made, I was on the phone with Coach Carbs. Basically just locking in and getting ready to sign with them. I think that the Rams was a great situation for me. And really just a good opportunity where I like because as a free agent, there are a lot of times where guys don’t necessarily go to the best situation.

They take into account other factors. But I was really just looking at the football and the opportunity. And I felt like the Rams was definitely the best place for me. So I was super excited that that coach Carbs and their staff liked me.

As a California native, going to high school in California, college in California and now playing pro football in California, what’s that like?

Yeah, I mean, it feels like I can’t escape. I was mentally prepared to be off in the cold or go like super far away from home. But then it ended up just working out that I’m here, I have a bunch of family down in LA. So it’s like, I’m still around a bunch of family. I’ve got a lot of people in my corner. And I’ve actually been able to see some family more than I normally do, which has been cool.

But honestly, that didn’t really factor into my decision, but it’s just kind of a happy added benefit that I have.

What was your experience like at OTAs?

Yeah, that was definitely a big learning experience for me. Because you know that that was when the rookies started learning the playbook. So, you know, just studying every night, wake up in the morning, review everything before practice. And then actually being able to practice like as a pro was pretty cool.

I feel like I learned a lot from not only the coaching staff but the other players too, because, you know, these vets like they wanted to, they can all be coaches, they understand the game so well. So just taking things from them, and just trying to improve as much as I can every day it was definitely an awesome experience.

Who is your all-time favorite Ram?

All-time favorite Ram. I would probably say Kurt Warner, I think the greatest show on turf, the just seeing some of those like NFL documentaries about that team like that.

What NFL team, if any was your favorite growing up?

I grew up a Patriots fan. Being from the Bay Area, that might sound a little weird. My neighborhood growing up was very close. And we would all watch the games together every Sunday. My next-door neighbor was from Massachusetts, and as a diehard Patriots fan, so basically, anyone who didn’t already have a favorite team just became Patriots fans in our neighborhood. I’m definitely a rams fan now.

So now I’m just moving on to some questions from the fans, to play at your level, what was your diet and training regimen, and was it similar to the rest of the offensive line?

Yeah, so I so I’m pretty heavy. Now. I’m like 315 now, but I’m a pretty naturally skinny person. So once I really wanted to commit to like playing offensive line, and being the best player I could be, I had to eat a lot of food, and work out a lot. I’ve gained, like, 50 pounds in a year more than like, I think twice in my life. I went from 160 to like, I went from like 170 to like 220 in high school, between my sophomore and junior year. And then I went from 240 to 290 in my first year at San Jose.

I was eating like 6500 calories a day, working out twice a day. It was pretty intense. And it’s funny, you know, people like when I would tell people my diet, they would be like, Oh, that’s awesome. Like, you can just eat whatever you want. And it sounds great.

But when you’re just I was basically like full like 24/7 for at least a year of my life. And it’s not, it’s not quite as fun eating all that food when you know, it’s like you have to eat it. It’s not just like eating what you want when you want to. It’s like I have to eat this many calories today. Like whether I’m hungry or not. I got to figure out a way to get this down.

What are your expectations for the coming season? Are there any games you’re excited about this year?

Um, there’s not really one in particular, I would honestly just say the first preseason game I’m looking forward to the most, because it’ll be my first opportunity to kind of play again since I was in the East-West game. And really, I’ve only really played one football game since last, like last November.

I’m just excited to get back on the field. So I would just kind of just take it one week at a time and so honestly, I would just say the first preseason game is the one I’m most excited for right now.

What do you like to do on your time off that helps you relax and stay happy off the field?

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately. The new Stranger Things the last two episodes actually just came out today. I’m really excited to watch that. Be I just watch a TV show. Listen to I listen to a few podcasts. Just kind of It’s like, physically relaxing, but still, keep my brain mentally occupied. Like that kind of thing is kind of my go-to like relaxation, I would say.

Hot wings with blue cheese or ranch?

I’m a ranch guy. Blue cheese is gross to me, I’m definitely ranch.

What’s your impression of coach McVay?

Coach McVay is just as smart, if not smarter than the public perception of him is, you know, everyone talks about his like photographic memory and like remembering every play and just like under like being able to explain understand all the concepts he’s teaching so well, but being able to see it firsthand.

It’s just kind of like next level, like, he was helping the offensive line like install a screen and he like, he was like, Hey, Rob, like, do you remember this play against Baltimore? Where you did, like, he basically like explained how it played turned out. And then we pulled up the film. And it was like the exact play, like, thing that he described happened. Exactly. And so it just kind of seeing that firsthand. It’s like, wow, this is like, this guy is like a legit, like football genius. So just having the opportunity to be around him is something that I don’t take, or I don’t take for granted.

How has the experience been interacting with others?

The guys have been awesome. Honestly. They’ve been almost like, more helpful and like nicer than I expected at first. Because, you know, everyone talks about, you know, how cutthroat the NFL is and how like, you’re all competing with each other for like, your livelihood.

But I came in and the O line especially has been super welcoming to all three rookies. And I get along with all the guys great, you know, joke around the locker room, and stuff like that. It’s been a pretty awesome experience so far.

What’s it like being drafted to your writing Super Bowl champs knowing the bar has been set really high for the team?

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity because it’s obviously difficult to go back to back. But I was lucky enough to come into a team that has like that knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl. So there, there are plenty of teams that you know, haven’t been there in a while or haven’t won one in a while.

And so to go to the team that just won it is definitely a good opportunity, just within the culture and stuff like that in the whole organization. Because everyone knows, like, hey, what we did last year works. And they’re obviously not going to do everything the exact same. But for the most part, they’re like, the team knows things at work and things that don’t. And so just kind of having that experience within the team, even though I didn’t actually I wasn’t on that team last year was definitely an added benefit. Big time.

Yeah, you know, you hear a lot of people talk about the Rams culture, you know, what Sean McVay brought to Los Angeles. Is there any, proof that you’ve seen of that culture?

Yeah, I mean, as I said, it’s definitely like, it’s very, like welcoming. It’s not like the crazy cutthroat NFL that, you know, everyone hears about. It’s, definitely a really, impressive culture that has been built. Because you know, especially with Coach McVay being a little bit on the younger side, and so like, last year, like what Andrew Whitworth was older than he was, and like, you know, get all these guys to buy into, like, his culture that he’s trying to get us to do is, it’s pretty impressive.

Another thing I don’t think is talked about enough is the training and, medical staff on the team. Have you found that it’s kind of better, you know, or that it’s introduced kind of a new perspective on health?

Yeah, it’s definitely different than college. You know, they’re very, like, it’s like, no one’s going to be like, pushed to, to like play when they’re hurt, you know, because it’s at least right now, at least, you know, in OTAs. Like, there’s no reason to risk earning something worse than to like miss a day or two OTAs.

So they, they do a really good job of taking care of all of our bodies, providing all the opportunity to do like our cover and stuff. After workouts or after practice. Yeah, it’s definitely kind of a next-level medical staff from what I’ve seen so far.

Do you find that not coming from a traditional football power has helped or hurt you as a pro so far? Are you comfortable flying under the radar? Or do you feel the need to go out and earn respect?

Yeah, I mean, I would say, I would say it’s helped me football-wise, because I was able to play for so long. You know, if I had gone to a bigger school, it’s not likely that I would have been able to play for five years. So I think gaining that experience definitely helped me a ton, which I don’t know if I would have got at a bigger school.

And then in terms of like, the respect, you know, I’m not, I can’t really like jump in those conversations between guys that went to like Georgia or Alabama talking about like, playing the national championships, but I feel like I definitely made the right decision going to San Jose State, and it definitely paid off for me the time.

Hot Dogs or Hamburgers?

I’ll probably go burgers. I’m big cheeseburger guy.

How was the vibe at the facility during OTAs? Who are some of the top locker room leaders?

The vibes were great from what I what I experienced I would definitely say you know, Rob Havenstein is one of the leaders. Matthew Stafford definitely. And then like, having Bobby Wagner is definitely awesome too. You know, just having such a good and experienced player like him just be able to step in. And kind of be that leader that he was in Seattle for so long already here was pretty cool, too.

What is your favorite bar in San Jose?

I probably gotta give a shout-out to SP2 in San Pedro square. I got a lot of buddies who, worked there spent a lot of time there. And it’s always a fun time at SP2

What is your plan to improve so he can make the 53-man roster? What players or coaches have you spoken to help him build a plan to be indispensable?

I mean, I think it’s just kind of take the coaching that I’ve gotten from OTAs and just keep working on that every day. Because I was offensive line. They’re like, little small things here and there that are kind of different from like, things you were taught before.

And so just kind of mastering all the new concepts is my biggest thing. And I feel like Coleman Shelton, Dave Edwards and Rob Havenstein have all been super helpful with kind of like showing the rookies like the right stuff to do to kind of be indispensable. Like you were saying,

If you were in an action movie with one teammate, who would you partner up with?

I think I might have to go with Cooper Kupp on that one, just because I feel like he’s the type of guy who’s like, good at it, though. He would be a good guy to have by my side.

What has been the biggest challenge learning the offense?

Yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of terminologies that are different than what I’ve done in the past. But honestly, it’s, it’s all similar concepts. So as long as it’s kind of like learning a new language, almost, where you just have to, like translate in your head, like, oh, this new call means like this, what is this old play that we had at San Jose? So it’s, it’s honestly just a lot of like translating things rather than actually having to like, learn an entirely new concept.

Have you gotten the chance to block Aaron Donald?

So he was only there for minicamp. He wasn’t at OTAs. But I did go against them once. In a drill that was like, not even like a half-speed drill. Like, it was basically just like a walkthrough. And he was going full speed. So it was definitely a once he kind of showed up at mini-camp that you could kind of tell there was almost like a different, like, different like electricity in the air almost.

You know, he’s, he’s super well respected around the organization. Before he was there, everyone would always just talk about, like, how hard he worked in the weight room and on the field. And so it was definitely cool to kind of be able to say like, yeah, I’ve gone against them.

But at the end of the day, he’s, he’s one of my teammates now. And you know, I’m definitely glad that I would definitely prefer blocking him in practice versus in games, with how great he is. But you know, it’s also getting able to be able to go against someone like that is a good opportunity to improve myself too. So

 

 

 

 

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