by Chris Warner
Judge each day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
While paving the way for classmate Curtis Brinkley’s 4.9 yards per carry, Syracuse fullback Tony Fiammetta planted more linebackers than seeds. The six-foot, 245-pounder has seen his draft stock climb after successful workouts at the NFL combine and his pro day.
Tony took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak with PD about workouts, fullbacks and Orangemen football.
In terms of all the pro days and all the combine stuff you’ve been doing, how do you think you’ve improved as a football player?
I think, just overall, I’ve gotten to know a little bit about what’s going to be expected of me at the pro level. Really, the Senior Bowl helped me a lot, because I was coached by pro coaches. They would give me insight as to what to expect, and I think I’m just a smarter, more intelligent football player right now.
In terms of the physical aspect, do you think all those types of workouts that are event-specific helped you on the football field, or do you think it’s just more geared toward the combine and events like that?
Well, I think, like with the agility drills and just training in general, just getting as strong and as fast as you can is going to help you on the football field in the end. But, the combine training is exactly that: it’s just for the combine. Training for football is a little different; you’ve got to be better conditioned and cover a wider range of abilities.
Speaking of training, what can you tell me about “The Prowler”?
It’s one of the toughest things I’ve come across since I’ve been playing football. It’s this sled that you push. You can put as much weight as you want on it; you get it out there on that FieldTurf and it makes you get at a low angle and just push. It really helps with your 40 start and getting your legs, strong, too.
It sounds like a lot of fun.
Yeah. There’s been a few times where I’ve gotten pretty light-headed and almost threw up from that thing, so it gets pretty interesting.
What teams have you interviewed with and how have those been going overall?
The interviews overall have been going really well. I prepared for them, just because I knew that you only have a certain amount of time to tell each team what kind of person you are. I prepared, just starting to get my thoughts together, and I think I got my message across about what kind of person and football player I am. I’ve spoken with about seven different teams at the combine and the Senior Bowl, and I think pretty much every interview has gone well.
Have you spoken to the Patriots at all?
Well, I just had (Patriots running backs) Coach Ivan Fears come to Syracuse and we had an individual workout, so that’s been the main thing that’s happened between me and the Patriots.
Is there any concern with how the prototypical fullback position doesn’t get used as much in the NFL?
There’s not much concern. Every team carries a fullback. There’s still a huge need for fullbacks out there, it’s just that you’re not going to have more than one on a team in most cases. Like you’re saying, it’s more specialized. You’ll only be used on first and second down in most situations, but I’m used to it, because it’s the way it happened in college. I know what I’m getting myself into, and I’m happy to do it.
I think you had five carries last year.
Is that frustrating for you, or just the type of thing that you look for?
I think, given the opportunity to run the ball, I can run the ball, but the way my offensive system was this past year, we had a stable of running backs, and the way I could help my team out the best was just by getting down there and blocking (at) H-back, tight end, fullback. So I focused on that and did what my coaches asked me to do.
How do you think Syracuse is going to do going forward (after a 3-9 season)?
I think they’re going to do great. I’ve been back at Syracuse for a couple weeks now, and I’ve heard nothing but good things from the players about the new coaching staff. It seems like they’re putting a lot of discipline into the team and it’s pulling the team together. You know, I think from here you can only get better. Coach (Doug) Marrone’s a Syracuse alum, and I think he really cares about the program and the university, so I think it’s going to be great to have him here.
Is there any favorite type of offense that you have?
Since I’ve been here, it’s been pretty much a West-Coast style offense, so that’s what I’m familiar with. Not knowing much about other offenses, I’d prefer that.
Any other positions that you’ve played before?
In practice I’ve had to do a little bit of tailback, but primarily I was fullback, tight end and H-back.
Last year you had four tackles. Was that on special teams?
Yeah, that was on special teams.
Out of those four, do you have a favorite tackle, or do you love them all equally?
I don’t know if this was counted as a tackle, but I had a forced fumble against Penn State and we recovered it, so that made me pretty happy.
All right, last question: There’s nothing between you and the goal line but a linebacker. Convince me that you’re going to score the TD.
I’m going to use all my will, all my strength, and all my technique to get underneath that linebacker’s pads and set the tone for the rest of the game. You know, I’m not going to be stopped. I’m going to use everything I’ve got in my body to get over that goal line for my team.
You’ve convinced me.
Thanks a lot, Tony. I appreciate your time today.
All right, no problem.
not one of these guys has asked for dinner recommendations for foxboro. just something to keep in mind.
holmes: not one of these guys has asked for anything, so I wouldn't worry about that too much. I haven't see any potential rookies getting too familiar or friendly with any one team. Have you? (I'm actually serious when i ask that.)
Thanks for writing in.
bholmes: now that I get you were kidding, I can play along. I plan on being best pals with all my interview subjects, because that's what all professional athletes need to do: befriend the media.
Fiammetta was selected in the fourth round (128 overall) by the Carolina Panthers.