With teams making the switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme, many personnel departments are looking at undersized college defensive ends to play the rush linebacker position in their defense. However, Virginia LB Clint Sintim is a player with plenty of experience playing that position in college and he said because of that there are not many like him available in the NFL Draft…
Sintim was a prep All-American as a senior at Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, Va. and had schools like Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina among others, but the draw of Virginia was too much to pass up.
“Virginia is a great school,” Sintim told Scout.com. “It’s a great school academically and athletically. It was also the idea that coach (Al) Groh has had so much experience coaching NFL linebackers. He’s been around for quite some time and he knows the game of football.
“Coming out of high school, you want to be the best, you want to be “the guy” and coach Groh being the guru of linebackers and understanding defense and me feeling like I could fit in that 3-4 defense and make things happen it was the best situation for me.”
After redshirting as a freshman, Sintim went on to start 49 straight games for the Cavaliers totaling 245 tackles, 39 tackles-for-loss and 27 sacks, including an 11-sack effort as a senior, but that outstanding season might not have occurred had he listened to what others were saying.
“It didn’t even cross my mind,” Sintim said when asked if he considered leaving early to play in the NFL. “I thought I had a solid season at best (in 2007), but I didn’t think I had a great season and I heard guys saying ‘are you leaving?’ and I was like ‘absolutely not, I’ve got a lot more to accomplish’ so it never really crossed my mind.”
Sintim is a player with a multitude of skills.
He runs well for a man that tips the scales at 6-3, 253 pounds, posting a 4.75 at the combine and he’s explosive as well, notching a 34.5 inch vertical as well.
Obviously he can rush the quarterback, but he says he can do everything asked of a linebacker.
“There’s a lot of good players in this draft, but honestly, without trying to be cocky, I just don’t see there being another player in this draft like me,” Sintim said without a hint of arrogance. “As far as the versatility aspect of it, I don’t think there are too many defensive players in the draft who have done what I have done. I’ve played in a 3-4 defense and not many college linebackers do that.
“I’ve been coached by probably the best linebackers coach to ever coach the game and I do a multitude of things – from rushing the passer, to stopping the run to playing out in space – I’ve done all that in the 3-4 defense. I have a great understanding of defense in general and that’s it in a nutshell. I love the game of football and I play it with passion and energy.”
A lot of players go into the Draft process and end the dizzying process with their heads spinning like a top. However, Sintim isn’t in that category since he was very close with last year’s number two overall selection, Chris Long, who was selected by the St. Louis Rams.
“He was my roommate, so I saw first hand exactly what he was doing, when he’d go on the visits and talk to the teams and all the hoopla and the media so I had the opportunity to view it up close and persona,” Sintim said. “I also had the opportunity to go to the Draft with him last year and be in the Green Room when he got picked and all that stuff, so I saw it coming for him and it was a great experience, a long experience, and really now it’s just my turn to go down the home stretch and finish this thing out.”
Sintim said he interviewed with several teams at the combine and had official visits with Buffalo, New Orleans, Kansas City and visited the New York Giants last Thursday.
For the Draft this weekend, Sintim said he plans to spend it with his family in northern Virginia and “try not to be too nervous when that phone call comes.”
Whenever that call comes, the team getting Sintim will get a four-year starter, a team captain, a young man who already has his degree in Anthropology and a player who plays the game how it should be players – with passion and pride.