The Dallas Cowboys have an opening at left guard with Jonathan Cooper set for free agency and Chaz Green failing to hold the starting job despite having it handed to him to start last season.
So the Cowboys are doing their homework on guards and one has had a standout week at the Senior Bowl – UTEP’s Will Hernandez.
Hernandez is a monster of a man, at 6-foot-2, 340 pounds, and is easily spotted in practice drills driving defensive linemen back or to the ground.
Hernandez has drawn attention from just about every team in the league, and has spent time this week talking with the Cowboys. If available, the Cowboys could consider using their second-round pick on him in the upcoming draft.
What would it mean to play for the Cowboys?
“I’d love to. I’d be 100 percent in, loyal to the bone. It’d mean everything to me. It’d be a complete honor. I look up to those guys [on the Cowboys’ offensive line]. Those guys are awesome to watch. I know I’d learn so much from them and become a better player just by playing next to them.”
Zack Martin is known to have a mean streak in him. Do you have one too?
“I definitely think that’s how everybody should play. I try to do the same, you know? I try to look at them and try to do what they do – that’s the reason they’re at that level. I definitely feel like everybody should do it and I try to do it almost every play.”
How did you end up at UTEP?
“UTEP, what happened I was a late qualifier in high school, so a lot of big schools that had offered me passed on me once Signing Day came. I wasn’t eligible. Obviously, they needed to do what they needed to do. They signed their next guys. I was going to take the JUCO route, but UTEP came in late, right before graduation. I was still out there and I was finally eligible and coach Sean Kugler was going to be head coach there, I said, ‘You know what? I want to play for that guy. I’m with UTEP 100 percent.’ ”
How would you describe your play as a guard?
“We ran our pro-style offense back at UTEP. I like running the ball. I can pass [block] as well, trying to get better at both of them. Definitely versatile and can do both.”
What’s the biggest difference between run blocking and pass blocking?
“To me, run blocking is technique and having will, wanting to move a guy, wanting to make lanes and create lanes for your running back. Pass setting and pass blocking is almost all technique. You need to be real technical in your steps, a lot of footwork, you need to be in the right place. If you set yourself up in the passing game right, almost every time you’re guaranteed a win. That would be the major difference between the both of them.”
The Cowboys have had offensive linemen such as Brian Waters, Ron Leary and Doug Free from smaller schools. What’s behind the success?
“I think we’re just natural competitors. Offensive linemen always try to rise to the challenge. Anytime you put them against someone that’s better or a higher level, they’re just going to rise to the occasion.”