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Combine Wrap Up

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2012 – 1:34 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- It was an eventful week here at Lucas Oil Stadium and the road the NFL Draft is only really just beginning. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know after this week, keeping in mind that there are two more days of workouts and a whole lot of time and free agency between now and the end of April.

- The Rams No. 2 pick is going to be really coveted by teams in need of a QB and looking to move up for RG3. At this point, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that a deal will be made, the only question is just how much the Rams can get in return to pull the trigger. As of today, it sounds like a lot.

- Honestly, it’d be hard to blame any team willing to pay a ransom for RG3, the kid seems like the real deal and his college tape backs up all the tangible and intangible things that “boosted” his stock here in Indianapolis.

- Teams expected to be in the mix for a trade: Cleveland, Washington, Miami for sure. But don’t be shocked of a surprise team or two emerges.

- The Rams have a whole lot of options and have made it clear they will explore all of them.

- One scout shared that he believes this is a six person draft in terms of impact players. The six? Stanford QB Andrew Luck, RG3, LSU CB Morris Claiborne, USC OT Matt Kalil, Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and Alabama RB Trent Richardson.

- Everything else will sort itself out over time.

- The strength of this draft might be at defensive tackle. And a different scout told me he’s not so sure that Memphis’ Dontari Poe isn’t the guy he’d want most.

- There’s a school of thought that Boston College LB Luke Kuechly can play any linebacker position in the NFL, not just inside.

- Luck is a great athlete. This is not news if you’ve been paying attention. Some of the stereotyping that goes on with this stuff is laughable.

- Curious to see how the rest of the offensive tackle class sorts itself out. Riley Reiff, Mike Adams, Jonathan Martin, etc., all have question marks.

- That’s just a few quick examples. We’ll have plenty more leftover stuff this week from the combine and I’m expected an official announcement on the complete of Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff to come down the pipe sometime soon.

- Thanks for following along all weekend.


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Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2012 – 1:23 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick isn’t considered the best CB in this class but he’s not too far off. For teams looking for a solid zone corner, Kirkpatrick is an ideal fit after a college career in which he gave up just one touchdown.

- On Sunday, Kirkpatrick talked about what it’s like to have your side of the field ignored, a personal misstep and what it was like to play at a NFL factory like the one Nick Saban runs in Tuscaloosa.

What was it like playing for Nick Saban?
A: “He teaches you discipline, how to respect other guys around here and how to be a team player and that’s one of the things I have to take to the next level.”

How demanding is he?
A: “Very demanding.”

Any picks last year?
A: “No sir.”

What was that like?
A: “The ball really didn’t float my way that much and they were pretty accurate when they were going to throw that way.”

Height/Weight?
A: 6-0, 186

Toughest receiver you had to go against in your college career?
A: “I would say Julio (Jones). Every day we went at it every day hard just to make each other better.”

What do you think sets you apart from some of the other guys?
A: “Just being coached a great leader and being prepared by one of the best receivers to play college football.”

What are some of the questions being asked in the draft process?
A: “Am I ready to take this step and how focused am I going to be. I’m just ready to work and now I have to fulfill my opportunity.”

Talk about your arrest and the dismissal of the charge …
A: “It was me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The guy that left the marijuana in the car turned himself in and didn’t want to put me in a bad situation. He signed an affidavit saying that I was unaware of the marijuana being in the car and I was unaware of it.”

Give up any touchdowns last year?
A: “One. (Andre Debose on the game’s first play). The Florida game. It was the first one I have ever given up.”

What was the route?
A: “He ran a fade route on me and I was playing over aggressive. Just didn’t measure my steps.”

How long have you played corner?
A: “Since my eighth-grade year. It stuck with me a little bit. I thought of it after the game but it didn’t faze me during the game.”

How long did it take QBs to start throwing away from you?
A: “Not that long. Year before last I had a solid season and the work in the summer time paid off. I felt like they did a great job of preparing me this season.”

Frustrating not getting many opportunities?
A: “Not really. One of my goals was zero balls or not throw to me.”

Lot of talent on that defense, were they all competitive against each other?
A: “We were very competitive. If you weren’t you were going to start the whole practice again.”

 


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Boston College LB Luke Kuechly Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2012 – 1:19 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- In a class with plenty of questions about the dearth of linebacker talent, one player stands above the rest: Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.

- Kuechly (pronounced KEEK-LEE) was a tackling machine for the Eagles and has drawn comparisons to Zach Thomas.

- Kuechly talked about where he fits and how he sees his progression to the NFL on Sunday afternoon.

Q: Have you heard comparisons with Zach Thomas before? Did you watch him growing up?
A; ”Definitely. We worked with some guys at IMG that are close with Zach Thomas. They did draw those comparisons. To be mentioned with somebody like him that had a great career like him that played in the NFL that long, it’s a great honor . . . it’s good to emulate people like that because they had great success.”

Q: Did you watch him growing up?
A: “I did watch him growing up. It was difficult to get some of those games. I was in Cincinnati. It was difficult to get some of those games. But definitely when I had a chance, I was always watching him.”

Q: What have you had to tell teams about yourself?
A: ”I think you know some things coming in. How big was I going to be, what was my weight at. That was one of the big things coming in; I had to prove I was a sufficient size. The biggest thing is being able to move with the weight you have. That was something with me, I’ve been working on. Getting speed with the same time and still being able to move. I think right now, I’m comfortable where I am.”

Q: Is this heavier than what you played at?
A: “Yeah, I was about 237 last season. I’m 242 now.”

Q: How tall?
A; 6-3.

Q: Will you run the next couple days?
A; “We run tomorrow. I’ve been down in Florida working the past couple weeks, I’ve been right around that weight. I’ve been comfortable doing it. It’s one of those things, to put the right weight on, so you can still move. I’m at that point right now where I’m a good comparison with speed and weight.”

Q; Do you feel you have to show your athleticism?
A: “I think that’s one thing about the combine, it gives you an opportunity to show how you can move in different scenarios, there’s different time drills as well as position drills led by coaches. I think it’s an opportunity for me tomorrow to show I can move well.”

Q: What was toughest part coming out junior year?
A: The toughest thing for me that was holding me back was, just finishing what I started. Being at school with the guys you meet. You do everything with those guys, and some of my friends will be there for one, maybe two more years. Talking to those guys, it’s college, college is over. But I’m excited to be doing what I’m doing now.”

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?
A: Instinctual player is something that pops up for a lot of people. That, coupled with, I think I’m a smart player. I think I do a pretty good job preparing myself. That’s something I take pride in. Being prepared, and knowing what each individual guy is responsible for. I can point at different guys, and let them know what they’re doing if they have questions. I take pride in having the ability to do that. And doing that, and knowing what everyone is doing, you can play faster. It allows you to be more successful.”

Q: Where get a sense for where ranked?
A: ”It’s one of those things, after the season ended, where I started to think about the process. When I declared, that’s when stuff started coming out. Like I said, I didn’t really look into that stuff all that much. It was one of those things you hear from different angles. It’s great to hear that, it’s something you want to hear. I’ve been working hard in Florida, trying to prepare myself for this right now, getting ready to go for tomorrow.’


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North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2012 – 1:12 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins made it clear at the Senior Bowl last month that he’s taken every step necessary to get on track so that he can make the most of his athletic ability and become a first-round draft pick.

- There’s no doubting his talent even though he’s only about 5’10. The questions with him are all related to character issues. He answered plenty of those questions and more Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Q: What have teams been asking you?
A: About my past off-the-field issues, what happened at Florida and how did I end up at North Alabama.

Q: How have you answered?
A: I was honest, straightforward, told ‘em I did it. I admitted to everything, I take full responsibility, and I learned from it.

Q: What did you learn from the past year?
A: It made me a stronger person, taught me how to fight through reality. That I’ve got to separate myself from certain guys, certain people. To be successful at the next level I can’t do the things I used to do.

Q: How much do you think your issues have hurt you with certain teams?
A: I’m pretty sure it will hurt me. But I’m looking past that, looking forward to moving on and being successful from here on out.

Q: Going against taller receivers, challenges for you?
A: There’s some great guys in the NFL, it’s going to be a great challenge week in and week out. I’m going to come in and work, put in some good work, watch film and just compete.

Q: Was there a moment at North Alabama playing on a Saturday in front of a couple thousand people that it really struck you that you’d messed up?
A: There was a couple times. We didn’t really play on Saturdays. My Saturdays I watched Florida, watched some of my old teammates play. It struck me; it hit me as a kid. I was just like, ‘Man, I’m supposed to be there with those guys.’ Just thinking about my past.

Q: What are some of the questions you’ve been asked?
A: What happened with my drug possession? How many times I was arrested. How many possession of marijuana charges I had. How many failed drug tests I had at Florida.

Q: Can you tell us how many it was?
A: I failed one drug test at Florida. I got arrested three times, one for a bar fight and two for possession of marijuana.

Q: How conquer marijuana issues, stay away from people?
A: Eliminate myself from some of those guys I used to hang with. I think about my mom all the time and my kids. In order for me to be successful and them to have a great life or a nice life I’ve got to put it behind me. In order for my kids to get what they want, I can be a father to my kids and just be there with my mom.

Q: Can you sense that teams appreciate you being honest?
A: Some teams I feel like they like it. I’m going to continue to open up and just be honest.

Q: Were you challenged enough at North Alabama, thrown at enough?
A: I got challenged, but I don’t feel I got challenged enough. I got thrown at four times a game. So I really had to do everything on special teams — punt, the gunner, kickoff return, punt return.

Q: How did you handle that?
A: It wasn’t tough. I just focused on the little things, fundamentals, just finishing plays, no matter if the ball is not coming to me. Just go all out all the time.

Q: Do you appreciate the elite level of Florida?
A: It made me appreciate a lot. Coming from Florida, getting three or four pairs of cleats a week, gloves, going to North Alabama and getting one pair of cleats. Playing in front of 3,500 people. Being in the Swamp and playing in front of 95,000 is a big difference. Learning experience.

Q: You seem like a man who is grateful for a second chance.
A: I’ve got to be grateful. For what I’ve been through, four years of my career, ups and downs, saying they’re going to be there with me through thick and thin. I’m very grateful for a second chance.

Q: What does it say about your talent level that you’re getting a second chance?
A: They see the talent. They just want to know what kind of kid I am. I came in here to show ‘em I’m not a bad kid, I made a few mistakes and I learned from ‘em. Everything I did, I did. I’m admitting it. I did it. I’m looking to put that in my past and moving forward.


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The Combine’s Final Day

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2012 – 4:11 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- It’s the final day of the NFL Scouting Combine for me. Hope you all have enjoyed the coverage we’ve had all week. Special thanks to Keith Harris back at the ranch for his help behind the scenes and to our video ace Glenn Connolly who has given us video content we’ve never had this week. Both did a great job of ensuring new and solid content to supplement the written work here.

- Anyway, today is the last day for media availability though there are workouts scheduled through Tuesday.

- Today, cornerbacks and safeties will come through the media room. Before it’s said and done, I’ll have some interviews from those guys but I will be traveling a bit later so there might be a delay.

- In the meantime, there is a lot to watch on NFL Network as the skill position players go through workouts today.

- Already, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III has ripped off a blazing time in the 40-yard dash, clocking in at an unofficial 4.38 seconds.

- Not sure that a 40 time will dramatically affect Griffin’s draft status but let’s just say the kid hasn’t done anything to hurt himself while here.

- Stay tuned for more throughout the day.


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Saturday Wrap Up

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2012 – 3:25 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Things were much calmer Saturday as the workouts began and the media circus for the skill position players quieted some.

- Instead, it was about business as defensive linemen and linebackers made their way through the media room.

- It’s a talented class at DT, a spot the Rams have a need for help. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. If the decision was made on winning the press conference (hint: It isn’t), Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox would probably be the winner.

- As it is, LSU’s Michael Brockers is probably the leader in the clubhouse. And he probably won’t do anything to change that perspective considering his physical prowess. Guys is a monster.

- As for linebackers, it’s an interesting but smallish class in terms of legit 4-3 OLBs, the place the Rams need help most. Keep an eye on North Carolina’s Zach Brown and Nebraska’s LaVonte David.

- Tomorrow is the final day for media availability as corners and safeties come through and the skill guys get to work out. Should be some interesting things to come out of that but let’s put it in perspective: the top two quarterbacks aren’t throwing, the top running back is doing nothing and the top receiver isn’t running. Kind of saps a little bit of the interest, eh?

- Anyway, tomorrow is a travel day for me but I’ll pass along some information tomorrow, including a look at the DT class and how it might shake out and a chat with LSU CB Morris Claiborne, among others.


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Penn State DT Devon Still Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2012 – 2:30 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Penn State DT Devon Still had an emotional final two months in Happy Valley but he’s come through it to this combine in hopes of proving himself the best of a talented crop of defensive tackles.

- On Saturday, Still shared his thoughts on his standing, how he projects to the NFL and, of course, former coach Joe Paterno.

6-5, 303

I think I’m very scheme diverse. I think I can play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 just because I don’t see the five-technique being that much different from playing the three-technique.

(senior year) Just putting more focus into football. I learned how to watch tape better with my defensive line coach and I put a lot more hours than I did the previous years to get ready for games.

(kept focus with scandal) It was very hard but when we signed up to go to Penn State, we signed up to play football, and we’d let the off-field issues handle themselves and we’d just focus on Saturdays.

(What was the difference between junior and senior year?) I think I had a very average year my junior year and I never strive for being mediocre. I try to be the best that I can be. I put in a lot of overtime during the offseason just to prepare myself to be one of the best in the country for my senior year and make my mark at Penn State.

(did you know you were ready to break out as a senior?) I kind of felt that after my bowl game my junior year, when we played against Florida, I thought I was able to play with them because I played against a top-15 pick, their center. That right there just springboarded me into the following season.

(you were healthy at end of career) Just being healthy my final three seasons at Penn State was big for me because I got a chance to get on the field and learn college football. The first two years really held me back but I was able to grow mentally those final three years.

(are you the best here) I think hands down I’m the best defensive tackle in this draft, just because I feel like I want it more. I was able to take over a lot of games this season. Just the production that I had, I was able to disrupt plays even if I wasn’t making tackles or sacks.

(what did you gain from dealing with the scandal?) I think just how to face adversity. You never expect adversity when you’re going through life, but just because we were able to get through that – we were hit so hard, blindsided by it, but we were able to make it through — I think that helped us grow as men and helped us get over challenges that we face in life.

(Did you learn a lot from Coach Paterno?) I would like to think so. I think Coach Paterno really groomed us into fine young men. He let us understand what life is all about. I think that puts us at an advantage over a lot of people because a lot of universities focus just on football whereas Penn State focuses on football, academics, just grooming you as men.

 


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Nebraska LB LaVonte David Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2012 – 2:25 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Nebraska OLB LaVonte David isn’t the biggest linebacker in this draft but he might be the best of the 4-3 OLB prospects out there. Despite his size, he has the ability to get off blocks and make plays in space.

- Here are some thoughts from David from his Saturday afternoon meeting with the media at Lucas Oil Stadium.

What does he want to accomplish at combine?

“I just want to prove myself to scouts, work hard and compete … Show them I really want to be in this league.”

What specific skills does he think he needs to show?

“Just that I’m good in pass coverage, get my hips and stuff involved, work on my speed and agility and things like that.”

What have you done since end of season to show teams you can shed blockers?

“I’m really working on getting stronger, more physical. That’s a big part of my game that I’m going to try to work on, and I’m going to try to take it to the next level.”

3-4 or 4-3?

“I think I can play in either. At Nebaska, we had a mixture of both 4-3 and 3-4, and I think I got a good feel for it.”

Big 12 vs. Big 10

“Obviously, the Big 12, you’ve got a lot more pass-oriented offenses. You go into the Big 10, downhill running schemes. They both were great experiences for me, they’ve both got a great level of competition. But the Big 10 stood out the most to me, linebackers really like to play downhill and stuff like that. That’s one thing I really enjoyed about the Big 10.”

Convert to safety because of size?

“If that’s something they want to try me out at, I don’t have a problem doing it, but I’d say I’m naturally a linebacker. I’ve played likebacker my whole life. I think that’s where my game’s at.”

Inside or outside LB?

“I’m comfortable at both. Whatever teams need me to play at. At Nebraska, I had a chance to play different positions. I’d say that helped me out a lot. I’m natually an outside linebacker. That’s the position I feel more comfortable at, that’s the position I think I could thrive in.”

Did he blitz much?

“I was a great blitzer. Over my career I had over 11 sacks.”

Being a part of the “black shirt” defense, what did that mean to him?

“It was a big deal. On my recruiting visit, everybody was talking about being a blackshirt, what it takes to be a blackshirt. The tradition of the blackshirts goes way back, way back. You gotta earn it; you’ve gotta prove to the coaches that you’re capable of getting the black shirt, and to your teammates as well — leadership, and of course, play on the field.”


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LSU DT Michael Brockers Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2012 – 2:22 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- You’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive physical specimen here at the combine than LSU DT Michael Brockers.

- While that bodes well for him in the draft process, it’s also the highlight of his resume. Brockers played just two seasons for the Tigers and didn’t necessarily have any eye popping numbers.

- In some ways, that makes Brockers more of a projection. He’s a tremendous athlete with the size to play any of the DT spots or even the 5 technique in a 3-4 defense. The question will be how quickly he can adapt and perform at the NFL level.

- Still, Brockers is expected to be the first DT taken on the basis of that immense potential. Here are some excerpts from his day at work.

(Height and weight )
6’5, 322 pounds

(What was the thought process behind getting bigger since the season ended?)
I didn’t really plan on gaining weight. It’s just drinking supplements, lifting weights differently pumped me up. I think I put on more muscle mass than anything else.

(How much more weight is that?)
I ended the season 317 and I’m 322 now so just a couple of pounds. Good, solid pounds. The good pounds, not the bad pounds.

(People were impressed with wingspan. Did you notice?)
I just heard numbers. I didn’t know what those numbers was. I saw some reactions. I didn’t know if they were good reactions or bad reactions. I heard numbers.

(How do you separate yourself from other defensive linemen in this draft?)
I feel like at 322, I can move a lot better than some other guys can move. So I feel like that’s my biggest strength. How big I am and how quick I am.

(Devon Still says he’s the best DT. Rebuttal?)
You really can’t. If he said that, he said that. I can’t really go back and comment on that statement. We’ll see Monday.

(Do you think you are better than him in any area?)
I don’t know. I haven’t really watched his film, so I can’t sit up here and say I’m better than him. I do know what I do good. I play the run. I’m a force in the middle. And I feel like I do a very good job with that.

(On Quickness. Have you stayed as fast after putting on weight?)
I work out. I’m still quick and I dont know what I would weigh in at. And then I weigh in and say, Oh, Snap I’m 322 now..It’s a shock I guess. But I’m just blessed to have this body frame and still be quick with it.

(Do you notice any falloff in speed while you gain weight?)
Oh yeah. When I went from 280 and then I jumped up to 310, I noticed a big difference. That time, my 40-time went from 4.8 to 5 flat. It was a big difference.

(Why did you leave LSU with 2 more years of eligibility)
I feel like I did pretty good in the SEC. I feel like I accomplished a lot. Winning the SEC championship, playing in the national championship. I know I didn’t win the national championship, we didn’t win it, I feel like everything I wanted to do was accomplished. I also wanted to help my mom and my family financially. So I wanted to push my potential to the next level.

(Your response to analysts that call you a one-year wonder?)
I feel like I can’t get any worse. I can only get better from now on. That’s really my mindset. I can only get better. That’s my response to that.

 


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Memphis DT Dontari Poe Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 25, 2012 – 8:17 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Looking for some beef in this year’s NFL Draft? Look no further than Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe, who figures to be one of the first major space eaters off the board come April.

- Poe was 6’4, 346 pounds when he weighed in here and has designs on being the next Casey Hampton. Here’s some of his responses to a number of questions:

Drills at combine –
I’m doing everything. It’s just competition. I like it. I like it all. I’ve been working out for it and just thought it’d be a good idea to do it all.

Working out –
Competition and I’ve been training at API in Arizona. I feel pretty good about it. I’m not hurt. I don’t have any injuries.

Compared to Casey Hampton –
It’s a great feeling because everyone knows he’s a great player, Pro Bowl-caliber player. He has been for a long time in the NFL. To be compared to him is a positive.

Type of DT in the NFL –
I see myself as someone who can rush the passer a lot more than people think. I am used to playing nose tackle and the 3-technique and I’ve played some 5-technique. I’m pretty comfortable anywhere on the defensive line.

Type of player –
I think I’m explosive, very explosive. That’s probably my biggest strength. Most people think just because I’m big I do nothing but power (inaudible) you, things like that. I try to use my quickness to my advantage.

Important for a DT to rush the passer –
Yeah. It’s become more important because the NFL is becoming a passing league. But if you can’t stop the run you’re in a pretty bad situation. You have to be able to do both.

What do you need to work on –
Just overall consistency. I need to maintain my level of play throughout the course of a whole game. That’s probably the biggest thing.

You followed Casey Hampton –
I’ve always followed him. I’m pretty into football a lot. D-tackles, I look at them a lot. Being one of the best as he has been for a long time, I followed him for a long time.

Other D-tackles –
Him, I like Ndamukong Suh. I think he’s very aggressive. Haloti Ngata. A lot of defensive tackles in this day and age are very good, which forces us to kind of step our game up.

Playing in a 3-4 or a 4-3 –
Really I’m used to both. We played both in college. Either or would probably be good for me. I’m comfortable playing either or. It’s really not a big deal.

What do teams want –
I don’t really know yet. Most people kind of see me as a 3-4 nose tackle, which is cool with me because I like that position as well. I like to think that I’m versatile and I can play multiple positions.

How many reps in bench press –
I’m going to try to go for 40 reps.

Combine/NFL always a dream? –
Yeah. It’s always been a dream. Back in high school we used to look at it and think it was so far away. But now at the end of my college career and getting this opportunity, it’s a blessing and it’s a dream come true. But it’s also a job and a business. It has become a reality. I’m getting used to it as I go.

You know your way around a weight room –
Yeah, a little bit. I love the weight room. It’s something I got into in high school because people always used to say college players are way bigger, faster, stronger. When you get to college, they say the NFL is way bigger, faster, stronger. I never let up on it. I’m self, intrinsically motivated to do it. Football is the most fun part about it.

Playing weight around 345 –
Yeah, I feel comfortable at it. If a team that I go to wants me to go down, that’s no problem either. I can do that. I feel comfortable. (Last year) I played at around 340, 346 to about 351. Just what a team needs I can do it.

Why Memphis –
I’m from Memphis. Born and raised in Memphis. I kind of felt like it would be the best decision for me at that time to stay at home and go to that school. For my family to be able to see me play each and every Saturday I thought it was a blessing and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Hard to get noticed playing at Memphis –
I think it speaks for itself. People say you have to go to a big school to get noticed, but the NFL is a broad league so they’ll find talent wherever it is. I didn’t think that was a big problem.


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