An interview with 2018 NFL Draft prospect Donovan Olumba
NAME: Donovan Olumba
SCHOOL: Portland State
DRAFT PROJECTION: Late Day 3
How did you end up at Portland State?
I started off at a Division II school called Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi, West Virginia. I played there for three seasons. After my third season, I wanted to get closer to home. My mom was going to have a child, so I wanted to be closer to her and make it easier for her to get to the games.
I also felt like a bigger institution would help with my education, and I could kind of see how the “real world” was going to be. Going to a small, isolated school, it kind of feels like you’re on your own island, and away from the rest of humanity.
I had a few schools I wanted to go to, and my Mom helped me cut down the list. It was between Southern Utah, Portland State, or Northern Arizona. So with Portland State, it was a bigger city, and one of my friends who plays on the team – (Defensive Tackle) John Jackson – told me they needed a corner.
So I went to the community college back at home during the summer to get all my credits in order to transfer to PSU. After I was accepted, (Portland State Cornerbacks) Coach Vernon Smith told me I’d be able to walk-on, so I went through the walk-on process right when I got to Portland State. I made the scout team and worked there in 2016, really showed what I could do the following spring, and then I earned a spot with the first-team going into the fall camp.
It was a rough year for Portland State as a team (0-11), so do you feel like that made it difficult for you to carve out a place for yourself in the NFL Draft conversation?
No, I don’t think it made things difficult. Every Saturday I went out to try to win for my team. It didn’t matter what our record was, even when we entered the final game 0-10. I was just trying to play winning football.
I wasn’t going out there to market myself, I was trying to win for the team, and if you’re going out there to play winning football, there shouldn’t be any difficulties in showing teams what you can do.
What percentage would you say you were put in zone vs. man coverage?
We were predominantly a man coverage team. We played some zone when the down, distance, and our opponent’s tendencies called for it, but our coach trusted us in man coverage.
Just from a personal enjoyment standpoint, do you enjoy playing zone or man more?
Zone is cool because you can read the quarterback’s eyes, and try to make plays off of that. To me, it’s easier to make plays on the ball in zone, because you’re looking at the quarterback and seeing the ball being thrown.
But I like man coverage because you’re playing off of your man. Your primary focus is on that one receiver. You can really show off your skills with your ability to stay in his hip pocket, because that’s the hardest thing for a corner to do. I take that as a challenge, just to see if I can stay as close to my man as possible.
Is football just something that you enjoy playing, or do you like the sport as a spectator as well?
I love football. I love watching it.
I’m a film junkie. I go home most days and watch cut-ups of 1-on-1 matchups. During the preseason, my friend and I would stay up watching the highlights from each preseason game that the NFL would post on YouTube. And even now, after every Sunday, I watch the highlights from each game.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was watching cut-ups of Terrell Owens against Charles Woodson, and Jerry Rice against people. Honestly, I’m just a football fan. I used to like the Eagles and Seahawks when I was growing up, but now I just like watching good defensive football. I like watching a defender get off a block, make a play, and then celebrate with his teammates. That’s what makes football fun: being able to celebrate with your teammates, and the emotion and excitement of making a play.
Who is your favorite current corner in the NFL?
When I was younger I liked Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. When I got to the end of high school and into college I was a big Richard Sherman fan. Just how confident he was and how hard he worked. I tried to emulate my game after him.
Now, I enjoy watching Jalen Ramsey. He competes hard, he’s confident, and he’s very physical. You don’t see enough corners that are physical and mix it up with receivers.
As a corner and a film junkie, which wide receiver do you think is the best in the NFL?
I think it’s Odell Beckham. I think he has a chance to be the greatest receiver of all time.
I enjoy watching how he runs his routes, how explosive he is with the ball in his hands, his change of direction, and you can see that he loves the game.
Let’s ask a few non-football questions. If you weren’t pursuing football, what career would you pursue?
I was a business/accounting major before I got to Portland State. I love accounting, I love numbers, and I love math. I really like that accounting makes you “think” like an accountant too; you’re not just a bookkeeper. So I think I’d probably be an accountant.
Android or iPhone?
iPhone all the way. I had an Android in high school, and it just felt like my phone would die so fast. After I got the iPhone, I fell in love. It was just so smooth the way it worked with all of the apps.
Everyone always complains about the “green bubbles” when I text them from my Android.
Yeah, it’s terrible. It’s just so much smoother texting iPhone to iPhone.
If you could have one person – dead or alive, real or fictional – defend you against internet trolls, who would you choose?
Man, that’s hard. I like the athletes that talk trash when they’re trolled, like (Portland Trailblazers Guard) Damian Lillard.
I’m going to go with Eric Cartman. I used to watch South Park all the time, and Cartman was crazy.