Q: Everyone who talks about you talks about this motor that never stops. How do you turn it on and why don’t you ever turn it off?
A: I don’t think of myself as doing anything extraordinary with my effort. I think that’s just the way football is supposed to be played, at a high speed. I’m not a guy who does things half-speed well. So it’s been pretty natural for me to go that fast.
Q: Do you see yourself on tape moving at a faster pace or higher intensity?
A: You hope to. That’s the goal. You want to jump off the screen when people watch film of you. Obviously everybody, all 330 guys who are here jump off the screen and that’s why they’re here. So the goal is to take your game to the next level so at the next level you can adjust that speed and then surpass it.
Q: Your dad played that way. Is that something you inherited from your dad or he ingrained into you?
A: My dad taught me to work hard and to be the same guy every day. If that’s going 100 miles-per-hour and working hard, then that’s what I’ll do.
Q: Your dad has taken a real back seat for most of your football career. Are you grateful for that or would you rather he be more in the forefront?
A: It’s testament to the fact that he’s such a great guy and such a humble guy. It’s not his style to want to steal the spotlight from his sons. I have two little brothers and he does the same with them. He takes the backseat. Everybody has a time and this is our time. I’ve said, â€˜Dad, you’re an old man now. It’s not your time any more.’ He has done a great job with that and I am grateful. I’ve matured to the point that now I am comfortable sharing that spotlight.
Q: Has Al Groh told you about Coach Parcells? Would that be an easy transition?
A: I’ve heard a lot about Coach Parcells and Coach Belichick as well. I think Coach Groh is a guy with a tremendous amount of respect for that coaching tree. A lot of his coaching styles and the schemes derive directly from Parcells and that tree. It will be a tough transition whatever I do and wherever I go. I think he does have a lot of similarities.
Q: Are you impressed with Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland?
A: I’m impressed with everybody I meet here. This is the NFL. It’s certainly a great experience. Everybody I meet is so professional. Obviously that’s what they do for a living. They eat, sleep, breath football.
Q: Are you familiar with the Jimmy Haslett system in St. Louis and how do you see yourself fitting in there?
A: I can see myself fitting in wherever a team wants and needs me to fit in. Being versatile is a plus and I believe I have the capabilities of being versatile at the next level. I am going to have to work hard and I’m going to have to make some adjustments. One thing you have to do is check any expectations at the door. I don’t expect to play any position or anything like that. I just want to be a football player.
Q: Have you talked briefly with the Falcons?
A: I’ve talked briefly with a couple of assistant coaches and the defensive coordinator. They seem like they are on a mission to get something started there. A new beginning. They seem really driven, like everybody here. Everybody has the same goal. It was exciting to talk to them.
Q: How extensive will your workouts be here?
A: I’m doing everything but bench. I will be doing bench at pro day in Charlottesville, Virginia on March 18th if you guys want to make the trip.
Q: How come you’re not doing bench here?
A: I sprained my thumb in the bowl game. For about two weeks I just let it rest. Once I started benching, I’m not where I want to be yet and this will buy me another couple of weeks.
Q: How is it practicing against D’Brickashaw Ferguson?
A: I would not be here if it weren’t for D’Brickashaw and guys like Branden Albert who’s here now and Eugene Morrell who will be here next year. It’s humbling when you get beat every day in practice. The games are easier than practice by far. I was always very fortunate and appreciative not only of the type of player Brick was, but also for how he approached practice which forced me to raise my game and my level of intensity, so I’m ready for the game.
Q: What would you like to learn from Jason Taylor and Joey Porter?
A: These are all guys I grew up watching. Any team, you name it. It would be an honor to be on the same field and in the same locker room learning from these guys. If you approach the game correctly and try to be a student of the game, what better people to learn from than these all-pro guys and guys you grew up watching? It’s really surreal actually.
Q: Have you ever met Al Davis? Do you expect to talk to him before the Draft?
A: I have met Al Davis. My earliest memory of Al Davis was ducking in the car when I came to visit my dad at training camp because there were no families allowed in. That was my earliest memory. Don’t tell Al Davis that happened. I remember meeting him when I was a kid, but I have not seen him since.
Q: What would it mean to you to play for that franchise where your father was such a staple and legend?
A: It would mean the same as playing anywhere else, honestly. It would be an opportunity to play in the NFL. Obviously there’s so much more to it there. I’m not afraid of any situation or any burden with the name. I’ve been dealing with this stuff my whole life. But obviously it will be taken to a new level in a place like that. It’s pressure, but I tend to welcome any pressure with open arms.
Q: Can you describe the situation in the car?
A: It was so long ago. I was young. I just got down in the car. I was a little kid. I was young enough to hide on the floor of a car, which means I was pretty young.
Q: What were you hiding from?
A: There were rules. It was a no visitation time.
Q: So you were trying to watch practice?
A: No, I was just coming to see dad with my mom.
Q: What did you measure in today at? And how do you feel about 3-4 versus 4-3?
A: I measured in today at 6’3″ and 272 pounds. I feel this is a good weight for me. This is what I played at about or maybe a little bit lighter. I feel that I could play at either scheme. Interestingly enough, people talk about what a transition it would be for me to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. But, let’s not forget that I never played in a 4-3 in college either. I was a base defensive end in a 3-4. Either position would be a fresh start for me and an opportunity to learn and an opportunity for me to progress as a player.
Q: A lot of people talk about your younger brother and his potential as a player. What went into his decision to play baseball?
A: We told him to go with his heart. Nobody in the family was pressuring him either way. In fact, I think my parents were keeping their fingers crossed that he would not play football. He doesn’t have to get hit playing baseball, he’s throwing 96 MPH, he’s a lefty. It seems like a no-brainer to me. I just hope I can live in his condo if I fall on hard times or something.
Q: How do you describe yourself against the pass rush?
A: Relentless. I like to use my hands. There’s so much I can improve there. I will play to the whistle and I’ll give it 100%, especially in a pass rushing situation. But there’s so much I can learn.
Q: How does it feel to have your jersey retired before you’re even out of school?
A: It’s humbling. I felt as undeserving as anybody. That’s truly an honor at Virginia, but only if they make a movement to start to recognize some of the players who came before me for the past 10 or 15 years who I feel were equal or better players then me. Guys like Patrick Kerney who are awesome and what they did for the school and for the program is immeasurable. I hope they make a movement to start doing things like that.
Q: What would it mean to be the number one pick in the Draft?
A: It would mean I have to show up and work hard. No matter where I was picked, any opportunity to play in the National Football League is an opportunity I would cherish. To be in that position you have to work even harder and show up with more humility and more of an open mind, because people will be looking at you. Wherever I go and whoever I go play for, I’m a football player. I enjoy playing football, I enjoy the game, I enjoy being a teammate. I won’t change. I’ll be the same guy.
Q: Mario Williams was taken at your position number one three years ago. His first year was a little bit of a struggle and after that he just blossomed. At that position, is there a bit of a learning curve?
A: It’s tough. When you’re picked at number one, as Mario Williams was, people don’t have patience. When you don’t touch the ball on a regular basis and you’re playing at a position like his, the only number they look at is sacks. This year, Mario Williams started producing more sacks. He was a pretty darn good football from the start, which people didn’t realize, but now his numbers are just better and so people are starting to justify it.