Jon’s journey to the draft: Part Two

After a successful week in Mobile, Alabama, Jon Halapio returned to California to get back into his training program to continue working towards the NFL Combine. However, he won’t be on the left coast for long. He’ll return to Florida this Friday for the biggest day of his life. He’s getting married to his long time girlfriend Sierra Chouinard. The two will say “I do” and then it’s right back out to California to get back to the training grind.

We caught up with Halapio after his first workout since the Senior Bowl to recap the week. What crazy questions did NFL teams ask him last week? How did he propose to Sierra? What would Jon Halapio do with a brick if you gave him one? Find out below in part two of Jon’s journey to the draft.

Talk to me about how the Senior Bowl went. How do you feel you performed?

“I think I did very well. I think I did better than a lot of people thought I would do, just because my pec and everything. But for me, coming in, it was exactly the result that I had in mind. All the feedback from all the coaches and scouts and even the jaguars coaching staff just said I had a good week.”

Your goal was to show teams that the pectoral injury affected your film from your senior year. Did you prove that point?

“Yeah, definitely. I think I definitely proved my point and I definitely think I proved that I’m 100% healthy. Now I just have to focus on training for the combine and to do well on that 225 test [the bench press test at the NFL combine]. Just continue to show them that I’m 100% healthy.”

What was the feedback that you got from the NFL scouts and coaches?

“The first thing that everybody noticed was how powerful I am. In my run blocking and they kept saying that I have heavy hands, which is good for an offensive lineman. They noticed that my punch was very powerful and they just told me to control it better. They said don’t be like a caveman and just go out there and give everything you have on the first punch or the first run blocking step or anything. That was pretty much it. They really liked just my natural strength.”

What were some off the wall questions that you got. I know the Browns were asking players what they would do if they were given a brick.

“Honestly, that was the only one really. Everything else, that was the strangest question I had. Everything else was pretty straight forward.”

Well, what would you do if I gave you a brick?

“I’d probably use it as a door holder. You can use it as a pillow if you have no pillows. If your brakes don’t work on your car you can put the brick behind a tire or something. You can throw it through a window, you can throw it through many things.”

Did having your teammates there make the experience more special?

“Yeah, definitely. Having them around just pushed me to go harder. Me and Solo [Solomon Patton] were on the same side of the ball so we just pushed each other if we were in the same huddle or if he was in and I wasn’t in or vice versa. We just kept encouraging each other to get better. Get better, get better, get better. And then after practice we would get with Jaylen [Watkins] and we were all pretty much just pushing each other to get better because we want to see each other be successful. Having them there just made the atmosphere a lot less chaotic, I guess. It just reminded me of being back at practice at Florida. It definitely helped me out a lot.”

“It also calmed me down. It made me calm because I was going through it with them two. I wasn’t just out here by myself and I wasn’t the only person from the University of Florida. It made me feel a lot better to have them there. We just were able to give each other advice and were able to talk about the interviews and the meetings and stuff like that.”

Going back to California

What was it like to get back to California and back into the daily training grind?

“It felt really good. Yesterday was our first workout since the Senior Bowl but I didn’t do everything, I was just slowly getting back into it. I’m just getting my legs back right and everything but it feels good to be back with the guys and it feels good to be back in this Cali weather. It was freezing in Mobile.”

 If it was so cold all week why were you in shorts the whole time?

“Yeah, I know, but that’s all I brought! I didn’t think it was going to be that cold.”

Are you changing up your workouts based on any feedback you got this past week?

“No, not really, if anything just more flexibility stuff, just to get more flexible in my hips, my ankles and my knees. Pretty much I just came back and picked up where I left off.”

With the pectoral injury, how are you preparing for the bench press at the combine? Will you participate in it and how many reps is your goal?

“I would like to hit 30, at least. That’s my goal. The minimum, I don’t want to be under 20. So anywhere between 20 and 30. Or over 30 would be good for me. The most I’ve ever hit was 32. Based on the amount of time I have to train for it and due to my circumstances, I think 30 should be good for me.”

How is it being out there with Ronald Powell? What is it like working out with him and how hard of a decision was it for him to leave school early?

“It feels good, especially Ronald Powell. Everybody knows he’s a very passionate guy and passionate about the game of football. He’s a very good vocal leader and he does a really good job of pushing me but pushing all of the guys around us who are training for the combine and pro day. It feels good, but it really just feels good to be back around all the guys. We’ve been doing this thing since the season ended and grown close since then.”

Have you talked to him about what went into his decision to leave early? Did he ask you for any advice before he made his choice to leave?

“He did reach out to me for advice. My advice to him was to, first of all, talk to Coach (Will) Muschamp because he would know his circumstance better than anybody else because he’s a defensive coach. My second piece of advice was to turn all your papers in. You don’t want to leave college without knowing your possibilities. So, I told him those two things, he took it in and did what he felt was right. I don’t know what his papers said specifically but Ronald Powell is not a dummy to leave Florida if the papers didn’t come back with good news. I can imagine it said the top couple rounds or something like that.


You’re getting married this Saturday. How did you propose to Sierra and what went through your mind before that day?

“Her father passed away about two years ago, so I didn’t get a chance to ask him for his permission but I did ask her mother. I asked her permission to marry her daughter and she said yes.”

“How I did it was for Valentine’s Day we were going to go to Yomato for our dinner date and I had a speech and everything written up and I memorized it. She was getting ready and she’s the type of person that doesn’t like when people mess with her shoes or her heels. So what I did was put the ring, in the box, in her heels. When she was done getting ready she went to put her heels on and immediately she was mad at me because she thought I did something to her shoes. I used to play pranks and just stuff her shoes with socks or whatever just to mess with her. So I did that, she realized what it was and turned around, I was on my knee already and she just started crying. I didn’t remember anything that I wrote on the speech, honestly, so I just asked her if she would marry me. She said ‘yes’ immediately and she was really happy.”

Big day coming up, what’s going through your mind?

“I’m just so excited, just really, really excited. I was nervous before, going into it but this is something that we’ve been waiting on for a long, long time. We did a long distance relationship in college for like three years, we lived together for a year and then I graduated. You know, we’ve just talked about this every day that we’ve been together and I’m just excited to watch her walk down the aisle and get married.”

What kind of emotions do you expect when you see her first turn the corner and start walking down the aisle?

“Man, I’m probably gonna cry. I’m probably gonna cry just because I’m gonna be so happy and then just the whole moment and the whole idea of being married. Especially me and her, we’ve been through a lot together. It’s going to be a good time and a good celebration with our families.”

Are you ready?

“I’m ready. I’m ready for it. If I wasn’t ready I would have never proposed to her.”

How does having a wedding in the middle of your training affect your schedule?

“It just affects my schedule because I’ll be skipping one day of training, Friday. I mean, I’m literally flying in Thursday night, getting married on Saturday and her and I are flying back to California on Sunday. The only bad part about it is I’ll be flying all day. Other than that it doesn’t really affect my schedule.”

She is coming back to California with you, but with the combine and the draft still ahead of you, you don’t really have time for a real honeymoon. How long will she be in California with you?

“She’ll be in California for two weeks. She knows that it’s not going to affect my schedule. She knows I’m working out and doing my thing. Her thing is she just wants to come out and visit me while she can still fly, I think there’s only a certain amount of weeks that you can fly when you’re pregnant, I think 32 weeks.  So she wanted to get that trip out of the way while she could.

“It will be fun too. I don’t just want to fly in, get married and then leave her.”

Honeymoon plans?

“We haven’t gotten to that yet. She loves cruises, so I imagine she’s going to want to go on a cruise. I don’t know. It just depends on the whole draft thing and obviously our child coming in. I still have to ask her about that. Right now she’s just worried about last minute things for the wedding and she still has to plan baby showers and then the actual baby coming in.”

Super bowl prediction time, who ya got?

“You know what, I’m gonna pull for Denver, for three reasons. First, because Lerentee McCray is on the team and I’m really close with him. Second, Peyton Manning deserves a Super Bowl win with all that he’s been through, he’s playing really well and I feel like he carried the team on his back this year. And third reason is they’re orange and blue. It’s the closest to orange and blue that I can get. It should be a good game though.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC