Meet 2023 NFL Draft Henry Yianakopolos, S, Rhode Island

Henry Yianakopolos the standout safety from the University of Rhode Island recently sat down with Damond Talbot of Draft Diamonds.
Henry Yianakopolos the standout safety from the University of Rhode Island recently sat down with Damond Talbot of Draft Diamonds.

  • Name: Henry Yianakopolos
  • Position: Safety/Linebacker
  • College: University of Rhode Island
  • Height: 6’ 1”
  • Weight: 220
  • Twitter: @yianakopolos
  • Instagram: henryianakopolos 

What makes you a top prospect at your position  in the 2023 NFL Draft?

My versatility is what separates me from other players in the draft. Throughout my last two seasons I have played eight different positions and shown the ability to move around in different packages. My ability to study the playbook and apply it to each position makes me irreplaceable on the field.

At what age were you first interested in the sport of football?

My interest in football started in the household, where we would watch NFL football every Sunday as a family. It became tradition and I knew from then on that once I started playing the sport I wouldn’t want to stop.

What is one thing that NFL teams should know about you?

NFL teams should know that I am not a list guy. They should also know that I am extremely accountable with myself and others. Throughout my six years at the University of Rhode Island, I was never late to a meeting or practice nor did I ever miss one (except for my brother and sister’s wedding).

If you could donate to one cause in the world, what would it be?

I would donate to the research of cancer. I have had family who were affected by this terrible disease and wish they could still be with us today.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Best advice that I ever received was fairly recently when a mental coach named Vincent Duffy said “It’s not about proving people wrong anymore, it’s about proving yourself right”.

Who was your childhood hero?

I looked up to Julian Edelmen a lot when I was younger. I knew that he was an underdog his whole life and was told that he wouldn’t be able to make it until he did. I used to print out his workouts and do them in my basement before school started. Love his drive and relentlessness to prove himself right.

Who is the most underrated teammate in your locker room at your school?

My guy Rocco Cillino. He came in as a preferred walk-on and every day puts his head down and works. He takes coaching, knows the playbook like the back of his hand, and takes coaching really well. He runs hard, pops up off the ground, and gives our defense great looks when he’s on scout teams. He knows that it takes work to play at that level, and he isn’t gonna give up till he gets his shot. The best part about Rocco is that he has a high character and is a good all around man.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

A big pet peeve of mine is when people don’t have basic manners or respect for obvious things. 

Overcoming adversity is what defines character, what was the hardest moment in your life to overcome?

It’s hard to pin a specific moment, because the hardest part of my life was a certain period of time. When I entered college there was no expectation for me to step on the field at URI. However, I kept working knowing that there might not be any light at the end of the tunnel. However, I was okay with that because I fell in love with the process of getting there.

Tell me something about your school and why it is so special to you?

Best part about our school is that once you move off campus, you have the ability to live right on the ocean with your closest friends and teammates. Being able to experience something like that is truly special.

What is your favorite snack food?

Sour Patch Kids by far, especially the watermelon ones.

What is the best part of football?

Easily the locker room. The game of football itself is incredible, but the bonds and connections that you make with your brothers in the locker room is unbeatable. That’s where you spend the time joking around and making fun of each other. The culture is built within those walls and if it isn’t close knit in there, then it won’t be on the field.

If you could sell yourself in one sentence what would you say?

I am an accountable, coachable, and high character man with a non-stop motor that is continuing to prove himself right and won’t stop till I am told “No”.

If you could compare your play to one player in the NFL who would it be?

I was told by a teammate that my play mirrored that of Daniel Sorensen. I am able to move around and play high or play lower in the box.

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would it be and why?

The first two would be both my grandparents who passed away early from cancer. They passed away before I was able to form memories or make a connection with them and I would love that chance. The last seat at my table would have to be Epictetus the Stoic. Would love to see how they lived in ancient Greece and how he practiced Stoicism.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at [email protected]

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