If there’s one thing the Jersey Flight has done this pre-season it’s been putting together a well rounded and well-adjusted roster. With a mix of veterans and early career players filling up the positions available, there’s a rookie offensive linemen to keep on your radar. That lineman is 6’3” 295lbs Hunter Salilla. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Salilla and conduct a Q&A with the young talent.
Q: Welcome aboard the Jersey Flight! And correct me if I’m wrong but welcome to professional football as well. I believe you recently graduated and played at Merrimack College. What was that experience like and how did you end up here?
A: Thank you for the welcome! I’m excited for this opportunity and thankful for the Jersey Flight organization. Merrimack College was a great experience coming out of prep school I had multiple FCS and D2 offers and Merrimack had the best of both worlds as a rising school and a head coach Dan Curran that played in the NFL. Once I got there I went on to start every game of my career 42 straight, team captain, 2x all-conference. Last year I signed late in the season with New York Streets and started 1 game vs Mass Pirates before having to ask for my release due to corruption in the program. I’m excited to show fans and teammates what I’m about in my first full professional season!
Q: I’m excited to see your first full season of pro ball play out. I noticed you played in 42 games, starting at Right Tackle for four seasons while moving around the line at times. I also saw you started off strong making the NE10 All-Rookie team before ultimately ending strong, making the All-Conference Second Team in 2018. Even with your talents being credited, transitioning into arena football isn’t exactly an easy task. So overall what’s your goal for this season as well as your ambitions moving forward?
A: Definitely, I played RG, RT, and LT all in my time at Merrimack but I have the ability to play any position including FB! Overall my number one goal is always the same, to win a championship! I’d love to help bring a championship to New Jersey. I’m just excited to help my team in any way possible. My personal goal this season is to dominate every person I play against and prove I belong. Further proving to NFL and CFL scouts why I deserve an opportunity!!
Q: I’m sure you know the saying hungry dogs run faster, and watching your film I can say you surely play like a hungry dog. You play until the whistle and drive defenders into the ground time and time again. With that being said what part of your game do you find to be the strongest? And is there anywhere you feel you could improve?
A: Gotta have that dog mentality at all times! There are always ways to improve my game and l work daily incorporating different things in my workouts and film study to be the best I can be! The strongest part of my game is my ability to finish defenders to keep them away from my teammates and my ability to recognize defenses and defenders’ weaknesses. You can see this in my most recent film from the Spring League Showcase Miami that is on YouTube!
Q: Being a student athlete is far from an easy task and requires logging in tons of hours with great commitment. What was your routine like in that position and how did you prepare for games?
A: Being a student athlete was very demanding but when you love what you do it makes it a lot easier. The majority of your days are filled from 5 am till about 8 pm with workouts in am, film, classes, practice, and more film, homework, and repeat. Offseason was very similar except I’d work a part time job too. Game days are what you work so hard for during the week, to be able to show out. I prepared for games through hours of practice and film study so when the day comes I had no doubts.
Q: The long hours, hard work, and dedication certainly pays off. Of course, most people that play football play because they love the sport but there are many ins and outs and different parts that breakdown the game. What do you love most about football?
A: The thing I love most about football is that it’s an outlet for many players including myself, to express yourself and anything you are feeling on the field. It doesn’t matter what type of day you’re having or what’s going on in life when you step on the field nothing else matters except playing the game. It helps keep a lot of people out of trouble and opens doors they may not have without the sport! It also teaches young men how to be a man and being accountable!
Q: I couldn’t agree more. To close out the interview I’ll ask a question I honestly find might be the most important, what motivates you most in life and on the field?
A: My motivation on and off the field is my family. My parents especially worked hard my whole life to help create opportunities for me and my brothers. They believed in me when I was doubted since high school. That is why I am where I am today and why I’m on a track no one believed I could be except them. What’s coming is for them.
Great motivators and I can’t wait to see your progress moving forward due to it. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions and letting the fans get to know you.
Thank you so much for the opportunity, I look forward to working with you and to the season!!
Hunter Sallila is a young talent that plays with a chip on his shoulder hoping to grind through the path to further his football career. Pairing him with more experienced linemen such as Jordan Page, Eric Ducksworth, and Wondell Rutledge will surely help the young man develop into a better and more rounded player that can help push the Flight to a championship season.