In 2021, Florida A&M edge rusher Isaiah Land burst onto the national radar when he put together an incredible season in which he led the FCS with 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss.
Land’s play earned him a laundry list of awards, including SWAC Defensive Player Year, All-SWAC First Team, AP All-American 1st Team, AFCA All-American 1st Team, and Buck Buchanan Award.
The 24th-ranked edge rusher among 2023 NFL Draft prospects sat down with NFL Now to discuss his pre-draft process, being overlooked coming out of high school, and why he came back to FAMU.
Florida A&M edge rusher Isaiah Land discusses his draft prospects, his insane production in college and why he stayed with the Rattlers when the major colleges came calling @FAMUAthletics pic.twitter.com/z698OmdABm
— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) April 4, 2023
Land, who played at around 215 pounds during the season and weighed 236 pounds at the NFL Combine, said of his 20-pound weight gain, “At this weight, I felt like the same speed, but now I feel more explosive. I feel like my power moves would be a little more effective, and I feel like when I’ve been around the edge, I got a lot more weight, so I won’t get washed up the field as easily. So it feels good to be at this weight. I feel under control, and I feel like [I have] the same amount of speed, but I just feel more explosive and stronger when I move.”
On returning to Florida A&M after briefly entering the transfer portal, the 2022 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year said, “I remember having no offers, and I was like, whatever school gives me a chance, I’m going to make the rest of the schools regret it. So when I got to that point where every school in the country wanted me, l could [either] go with one of those big schools or stick to what I said a long time ago. I’m gonna do my best to whatever school gives me a chance and make the other schools regret it. So that was the main reason why I stayed.”
Land said he sought to transfer at the time out of the belief his draft prospects would increase.
“The main reason why I got in the portal in the first place was that I felt they (NFL scouts) were overlooking the HBCU players in the draft,” he said. “I wanted to prove to the country and prove to myself that I could be a top player in the country and you could do that out of FAMU.”
An NFL.com prospect overview stated Land, “ability to threaten the pocket should generate interest from teams. Land is a very natural, instinctive rusher with the get-off, counters, and fluidity to stress some tackles.”
He also spoke about teammate and fellow draft prospect Xavier Smith who has had a stellar offseason.
“I always knew he was gonna be special just from my first year [at FAMU], seeing him make crazy, wild catches,” Land said.
Smith finished this season with 87 receptions for 1,021 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 2023 NFL Draft will occur April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.
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