Q: I read a story from this week where you said you had no expectations of getting drafted. Take us through how that thought process has evolved up until now?
NE: I didn't want to expect anything and I didn't want to get overly excited. I hoped I would get a chance to get on a team and especially the Patriots, words can't describe how happy I am to be a part of this organization. The fact that I got drafted just makes me so happy and my family is happy. I'm just so excited about the opportunity. I'm really at a loss for words about the whole thing.
Q: When did you think you might get a chance to compete for an NFL job or get an invitation to an NFL team?
NE: After my Pro Day I had spoken with a couple teams and had figured I might get a shot here or there with some talk with some scouts. I thought I might get a chance to get a job with a team and that's all I wanted. I just wanted a shot to prove myself and just get a chance really.
Q: Why did you decide to start playing football?
NE: That was a long, drawn-out process. I was playing rugby and especially age-grade stuff and I was done with World Cups and I had been in college and I couldn't do the professional rugby and college at the same time. I wanted to play football my senior year in high school and I didn't and I just decided I would go out for Ohio State. What better college program would you want to be a part of than Ohio State – especially every kid growing up in Columbus? I did it and it worked out pretty well.
Q: Just to clarify, I saw a story that said you did not play high school football. Did you play in high school?
NE: No, I did not. I didn't play a down of football in high school.
Q: What experience do you have in the secondary?
NE: I came into Ohio State, I was a safety; practiced with them a lot. I got a couple plays in a game at nickelback, played some nickelback. My role at Ohio State, they wanted me to play special teams and that's what I did. The coaches wanted that and I gave everything I had into that. That pretty much was my role. I backed up Tyler Moeller at nickelback last year and obviously some safety stuff; just did what the coaches needed of me.
Q: Was there any specific special teams unit you enjoyed the most?
NE: I would have to say kickoff probably because I don't know why. I don't know. I just enjoy running down as fast as you can and you know, it's just mayhem, it's exciting, it's crazy, it's such a rush, I don't even know what to say about it. It happens so fast, it's just one big blur and then it's over. I just love it for some reason – I don't know, maybe I've got a screw loose.
Q: What was your contact with the Patriots like? Were they at your Pro Day? Did they work you out at all?
NE: I had spoken with the Patriots the day prior to my Pro Day and I spoke with them a little bit afterwards. Just kept in contact on the phone a little bit here and there and then I talked to them a lot today. I didn't work out with them or fly out to New England or anything, but I had spoken to them a couple times.
Q: Who from the Patriots have you spoken to?
NE: Coach Brian Flores, I spoke with him; I spoke with a couple. The other scout, I feel bad, I can't remember his name. But Coach Flores was my main contact at the beginning of my communication with the Patriots.
Q: How much of an impact did having Mike Vrabel on the coaching staff help you?
NE: Man, I can't say enough about Coach Mike Vrabel. Obviously what he did as a player, but even as a coach I learned so much from him. That's not even to say the type of person he is. I mean, what an amazing guy. I can't thank him enough for the help he's given me and the attention he's given me. We have such a good relationship. I'm lucky to even only have the one year I got to spend with him and the likes of Coach [Luke] Fickell and even the rest of the coaching staff at Ohio State, they're all great but I'm very happy to say that I got that year with Coach Vrabel.
Q: How much did Mike Vrabel stress the special teams aspect of things and that could be an opportunity for you in the NFL?
NE: I'd say he highly stressed it. He understood that it was just as important a part of the game as anything else. I understood how important I took my role as a special teams player at Ohio State. We kind of spread that together to help the rest of the team with special teams. He made it clear to me that the things you do every day here at Ohio State, you can play in the NFL for years doing that. He knew the importance of special teams and like I said, we tried to spread that throughout the team.
Q: How does a kid from Dublin, Ohio get involved in rugby?
NE: My father played rugby. Growing up I was around it since I was about six years old. I had played football, Pee Wee like any other kid and I kind of got into rugby. I guess you could call it, I was a late bloomer in high school. I had more interest in rugby so it just went that way. I went to a couple camps for the national team and it's all history.
Q: Can you talk about losing your father and what impact it had on you?
NE: Obviously it was devastating. Nobody wants to lose their father, especially the way that happened. The type of person he was and our relationship, I could only draw strength from it. I never really was one, like I've said to people, to pity myself. I don't know how he would feel about me feeling bad for myself because he was gone. He was one to say every day, 'If I die tomorrow, I wouldn't be mad about it the way I lived.' So I don't want to as his son be sad about it. I just tried to draw strength from it. I'm so lucky to have a person like that in my life, especially as a father figure. He was amazing.
Q: How does rugby translate to football?
NE: I get that question a lot and I never know how to answer it. It compares in the fact that we hit each other and there's a lot of running and some big dudes. I don't know that it compares a lot. I'd say just the speed of the game and the tackling are similar. They're very different sports, I guess the fact that when it's time to come down and hit somebody as I'm running down on kickoff, I'd say that's very similar to the time it comes down you're in a rugby game and you have to hit someone. The tackling I guess is similar. Not too similar – they're two different sports.