February 28, 2020

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Diamond in the Rough: Michael Cerniauskas

Michael Cerniauskas is a safety from Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the 2021 class. The junior, who plays for Catholic High School stands at 5’11 and comes in at a brawny 188 pounds. The rangy safety has the physicality to make receivers pay for coming across the middle, and the speed and vision to make quarterbacks regret that split second hesitation in throwing a pass. The junior tells me he squats 335, benches 255, and power cleans 280. Those are some big numbers for a 16 year old.

When did you start playing football?

I started playing football in second grade, we had a little flag football team at St. Jude. In third grade, I started really playing tackle.

What do you really love about football?

I love the physicality. I love being over the top, over the middle, in coverage. I love flying around on defense and being able to hit people. I love the sense of comradery and building life-long relationships while in it.

Did you always play safety or did you play any other positions?

Coming in freshman year from middle school, I played quarterback. So, I got to Catholic thinking ‘hey I might try out quarterback’ and I was always more of a runner at quarterback than I was a thrower. So when I got to high school, on the freshman team, I wasn’t the best thrower on the team. I didn’t get picked for the starting job, and for me the biggest thing was, I just wanted to play, I didn’t care where, so I made the switch over to safety my freshman year and went from there.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

I played baseball up until my freshman year, and I ran track in middle school. I did the 100 and 200 for track.

What style of play do you feel best describes you?

I think physical, I like a lot of contact. I make plays on the ball too, but I think physicality is definitely my biggest trait.

Who is a player in the NFL that you kind of model your game after?

Kam Chancellor is one guy I have always looked up to, he’s a big physical player, and I’ve always watched him. I saw him as a guy that knew how to play and knew his stuff really well.

Going into this year, what are some of your goals?

I think our goals for me, and our team especially, is just real simple. Just doing our job. For me it is just doing my job each week, day in and day out. As a team, we just take it one week at a time, and at the end of the year we’ll be where we need to be.

Off the field, who are some of your biggest influences?

Definitely my parents, my family, my coaches. They all play a big role in keeping me in line, and just checking on me with life, and just in general.

What do you think is one of the biggest strengths in your game play?

I do a lot of studying pre-game, studying film. I do a lot of that during the week, so I feel like every time I go into a game I have a leg up on that opponent. Because, I’m looking and I kind of know what is coming, that allows me to be in the right spot to make a physical play.

Speaking of being in the right spot at the right time, you had a big pick six against Karr, walk me through that.

Yes sir, I was the middle of the field safety, and I was playing my divider, how I’ve been taught to play it. We had schemed them up really well that week, and had their number, and knew where it was coming. We had a great play call in.

Do you think that attitude has a factor in winning?

I don’t think anybody on our sideline had any doubt that we weren’t going to win that football game. Karr is a heck of a football team, but we played lights out and ran the ball very well. Best game as a team this season for sure.