Second Round Selection C John Michael Schmitz
April 29, 2023
Q. What have the last 24 hours been like for you?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, kind of just taking it all in. Everyone's been telling me, ‘You only get drafted once,’ so just celebrating it with my family and with friends and the people that got me there. I've got a great support system. I’m very blessed and honored to be a part of this organization.
Q. Looking back a year ago, I think you were projected as a Top-100 prospect, why did you go back for the sixth year, do you think that benefitted you?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: The main reason I went back was for my team. Came in with a lot of those guys that were staying that extra year and I just wanted to go back to give it one last shot of winning a Big 10 Championship and leaving it all on the table.
Q. Could you describe your relationship with (University of Minnesota Head Coach) P.J. (Fleck), just what that was like and what he's like?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, I mean, from the start, I committed to Coach Fleck at Western Michigan, and two weeks before National Signing Day, I got a call that he was coming to the University of Minnesota so without even stepping a foot on campus and stepping a foot in the state of Minnesota, I committed right on the spot just because I believed in him, and I was all in and bought into his culture and was ready to go to battle for him.
Q. How much has this been your dream to be an NFL player and when did you think that this was realistic and that you would be sitting here right now?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I have been playing football since I was five years old, and I just remember this memory I have of me and my brother playing next to each other on the offensive line and my dad, coaching us up and we have a great picture. Just from the start, there was always a dream to be in my position. I’m just very honored and blessed, be a part of this organization.
Q. You were a wrestler, right?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yes, I did wrestle when I was little and wrestled in high school as well.
Q. Does that help you on the football or did it help you?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, understanding as an offensive lineman, understanding your weight positioning, your body movement, your force, where you need to be, your hand placement, the grappling technique. That's all important stuff to have, and it’s definitely benefitted me. I still talk to my wrestling coach today and he's a great guy.
Q. Strange question to ask to someone you just met. But how much do you weigh and what do you want to play at?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Right now, I’m around – I stay between 307 and 310, and I've been playing at that weight probably the last four years. Whatever the team needs me to play at I'll be at.
Q. What is it about center that you think you're good at that appeals to you? Obviously, nothing happens until -- you're the first one that touches the ball every play, so what is it about that specific position?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I would just say you're the first one that gets to the ball, it's got to be your mindset that you've got to set tone. It's your leadership, it's how you communicate down the line and making sure everyone is on the same page, you've got to be controlled especially in a crazy atmosphere, if we're on a road game. Just making sure everyone gets the calls, you're working with the quarterback, you're working with the right and left side.
Q. What's it like to come to a team that has a need at your position where you conceivably could step right in and maybe man that position for a long time?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Right now, I'm really just focused on getting in the building and being around this team and getting ready to go to work.
Q. So many players have a wrestling background and they are grateful to have it. How much do you like the idea that one-on-one is how wrestling is, and there is, at least to me, it seems some translation to the football field there?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, you definitely have that one-on-one battle, especially (from) an offensive line perspective. At the end of the day, you have to win your battle and that goes across the board – offense, defense, no matter what position you are.
Q. How challenging is it if you're a younger center playing with more veteran linemen across the line, how challenging is it to be the leader of that group and earn the respect when you have less experience?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: You’ve got to earn their trust and that’s by how hard you work. When you come in every day with a mindset that you're going to get better and at the end of the day, trust is earned over time – with time, consistency and proof. Those three things don't happen overnight, so it's going to -- obviously hard work on the field and in your playbook, with your body, taking care of yourself and just honestly being a part of that team and getting close with one another.
Q. Different offenses demand different things from a center, what's your interpretation of what they are looking from for you from the center position?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I would just say, to be that voice, to connect that group, and to set the tone. Like I said before, set the tone from the start and be that tough offensive line that we want to be.
Q. Were you able to find your voice early in your career or was it a process to be able to get to that position to take command?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I definitely over time developed. I feel like I had a voice early on, but you always keep changing. You always keep getting better. You always keep growing each and every day.
Q. Most of the time the centers make the line calls. How much film work is involved in that and getting ready for each game?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: It’s a lot of work that goes into the process leading up to game day. You’re working (and) coming in with the whole offensive line extra, you're working with my offensive line coach at the time, (Minnesota Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line) Coach Callahan, coming in extra, seeing what needs to be done to get everyone on the same page. I'm watching film with our quarterbacks, our running backs, different position groups. Making sure we are on the same page and that when we go out and play we are ready to go.
Q. Did you talk to (Linebacker) Carter Coughlin at all?? What did he tell you about the Giants?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: He's very excited to have me here. He was just very excited and kind of just welcomed me in to his family and offered me a lot of advice, whatever I need. He said he was going to be there for me and that's just amazing.
Q. How did you adopt the dead ball snap technique and does that change anything for the quarterback in your experience?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: It didn't really change anything, just something that Coach Callahan talked about that we were going to do and experiment and ended up being what we were going to do, had a lot more control of the ball and more accuracy.
Q. You're obviously going to be working very closely with (Quarterback) Daniel Jones, what do you know about him, if anything?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: He had a hell of a season last year. I mean, he led that group. He's grown a lot at his quarterback position. He reached out last night, sent me a text. I’m very excited to work with him. Very excited to work with this offense and get things rolling.
Q. What do you know about (Running Back) Saquon Barkley?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I mean, honestly, I think he's one of the best backs in the National Football League. He's a great player. He's explosive and he's tough. He runs the ball tough.
Q. This time of year, we see highlights of guys and it's always fun to see the highlights of the offensive linemen, which ones they choose for you, do you have a favorite highlight of yours that if you walked into a meeting and someone said, show us your favorite highlight of you blocking someone, is there something that jumps to the front?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I wouldn't -- no, I wouldn't say there's (anything) in particular I would say that's a big highlight.
Q. Looking at your highlights it looks like everything was shotgun? Did you do any under center?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Definitely this last season we did a lot under center. Had to change it up for defenses. I'm comfortable going under center or in the shotgun.
Q. (Offensive Line Coach) Bobby Johnson likes to give his linemen colorful nicknames. Have you gotten yours yet?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: (Laughs) I have not, no. I have not.
Q. What's your interaction with him been like?
JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: It's been great. He's a tremendous coach and I met him right before pro day. He came out and worked me out and we had dinner. Just a tremendous guy and very excited to work with him and develop a bond -- he's amazing.