Isaiah McDuffie brings 'workhorse' mentality as rookie linebacker

Packers’ sixth-round draft pick from Boston College doesn’t slow down

 LB Isaiah McDuffie

GREEN BAY – The videos showed up in waves on Sean Duggan's phone, and he didn't even ask for them.

Last spring during the offseason of quarantine, the new linebackers coach at Boston College would regularly get barrages of texts and video clips from one of his players, Isaiah McDuffie.

Because he couldn't be with his teammates, McDuffie spent a lot of time working out at his old high school field in Buffalo with his dad, Steve, his high school coach.

McDuffie would videotape the workouts – by either propping up his phone on a water bottle at a bad angle, or having his dad do the recordings – and send them to Duggan to critique. No matter the response, before long, inevitably another wave of videos would be on its way.

"He was always constantly wanting feedback, wanting to do better, wanting to know if there were any more drills he could do," Duggan said in a phone interview with to talk about the linebacker the Packers drafted in the sixth round.

"He'd send me like 10 a day. He would say, 'I've been at the field for four hours.' I would always just send back, 'Do you ever stop working? Do you ever take a break?' Yeah, he's a workhorse."

Apparently, but McDuffie was driven to not waste any opportunity at Boston College, not after missing the bulk of the 2019 season due to a knee injury sustained in spring practice.

Take a look at Packers LB Isaiah McDuffie during his college career.

McDuffie returned late that year to play the final four games of the season, and in that short time he proved he was back.

When Duggan reviewed the 2019 film upon getting the coaching job last year at his alma mater – he was a BC linebacker himself and team captain in 2014 – he could tell McDuffie had put the injury behind him.

"Definitely you could see a guy that was twitchy, explosive, physical, could run and hit," Duggan said. "He's a high-effort guy that has a motor and is around the ball because he consistently runs to the ball."

McDuffie also took to a minor position change without a hitch. Having played mostly strong-side linebacker prior to last year, McDuffie switched to the weak side for 2020 because the defensive coaches wanted him "in the box" more.

It paid off to the tune of a team-leading 107 tackles, a total that ranked fifth in the country. McDuffie recorded double-digit tackles seven times, including 16 against second-ranked Notre Dame, and had three sacks among 6½ tackles for loss, with one interception.

He earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and now finds himself as part of coach Kirk Olivadotti's young Packers inside linebacker group currently led by two second-year players, the undrafted Krys Barnes and 2020 fifth-round pick Kamal Martin.

"I just told him to continue to study the game," Duggan said when he talked to McDuffie after getting drafted. "The crazy thing is he hadn't played a lot of box linebacker before last season. So just getting those reps and seeing the reads, he'll get more and more comfortable with it."

McDuffie's size (6-1, 227) and athletic profile (sub-4.6 40) also make him a prime candidate to help on new coordinator Maurice Drayton's special-teams units. Linebackers Oren Burks and Ty Summers, both drafted in recent years, have made their mark there.

Wherever McDuffie fits best, Duggan knows Green Bay's coaches won't have any issues with his work ethic. If anything, as rookie orientation gets underway at the end of this week, they'll probably have to ask McDuffie to slow down.

"He's a guy that I think the offseason feels very long to him," Duggan understatedly said. "He always wants to get back to football.

"He works as hard or harder than any player I've ever been around. I know he's going to attack it and do a great job. He's so excited to get to work."

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