A: Going over 100 yards each game. That was pretty special.
Q: And you had four in which you gained over 200 yards, right?
A: Yeah - I should have had eight of them, but you know, four works (laughs).
Q: Did it feel to you like you were on a different plane all that year? When you went into games, did you just feel unstoppable? What was the difference in that year for you?
A: You know, every Saturday morning I would just pray to God that he keeps both teams healthy and thank Him for blessing me with the talent to run and do the things that He allows me to do.
I used to tell my fullback that “The other team should have stopped me before I put my cleats on”, because my mentality was that once I laced my cleats up, it was a done deal. It was over with. I just felt like there was nobody that could touch me, because during my offseason workouts I was training so hard that I didn’t think anyone could stop me.
Q: What would you say was the biggest single moment in your college career?
A: Being carried off the field after winning the Apple Cup.
Q: You impressed a lot of people during the Senior Bowl, especially during practices – there was a great deal written about you that week. Why do you think that was?
A: A lot of scouts on the East Coast and the Midwest – they miss (Washington State’s) games. I’m pretty sure they do their homework - they’ll look it up and say, “Oh, he had another 100-yard game”, and this and that. Then, they’re just like, “How is he doing it?”, and then they see my shiftiness, my quickness, my elusiveness, my ability to catch the ball, and my natural…I’ve been blessed with a natural attack. I’m just a football player, and I think they saw that and were impressed by it.
Q: Did you run into any defenders during practice, or the game, that made you take a step back and say, “Whoa…this guy is something else”?
Q: How would you describe your Combine experience? Was it everything you expected it would be?
A: (whistles) There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that…something that cannot be explained. You really have to understand the whole thing.
Q: Did you do specific workouts to prepare for it?
A: Yes, I was training for a while.
Q: What surprised you about it when you got there?
A: The poking and prodding – the “do this, do that”. Then, seeing something like when you walk across from the RCA Dome to the hotel...just crazy. It was unbelievable.
Q: Every player I’ve talked to has said the same thing – “I can’t believe how much I was poked and prodded!”
A: But at the same time, if I wasn’t there, I’d be worried…so, I’ll take that anyday.
Q: At the Combine, you posted the best times of any running back in the 3-cone shuttle (6.77) and 20-yard shuttle (4.07). Everyone talks about 40 times – most of the coverage focuses on that. But did you get increased attention based on those numbers? I mean…your 40 time was nothing to sneeze at, either (4.47), but I was curious if certain teams looked at your 3-cone and your 20 and raised their interest.
A: Yeah, it probably did, because a lot of teams didn’t know I was that quick. And…that was probably the worst 40 I’d run. When I was training, I was running 40s in 4.4, 4.3. I ran a 4.47 (at the Combine) – I was frustrated.
But my quickness impressed people – people called my agent and said, “We didn’t know he was this quick”. You know, real shifty.
Q: Which teams did you talk to at the Combine – did you have specific interviews with head coaches there?
A: I talked with (Colts head coach) Tony Dungy. Other than that, I sat and talked with a lot of teams – Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and I talked to Seattle.
Q: You talked to the Seahawks at the Combine?
A: Yeah, and I would love to stay in my backyard.
Q: Moving from the Combine to your Pro Day on March 8 – did you do drills at your Pro Day, or did you pretty much cover it all at the Combine?
A: I didn’t do any drills. I just did my individual workout.
Q: How many teams were at WSU’s Pro Day?
A: About fifteen.
Q: Have teams asked you to visit their facilities, or set up private workouts with you?
A: I go to Cleveland to visit with the Browns tomorrow (Thursday, April 20), and that’s about it.
Q: Nothing else set up at this point?
A: No, sir.
Q: You’ve been compared by more than one analyst, as far as your elusiveness, to a guy named Stump Mitchell, who used to run for the Cardinals…
A: The running backs coach of the Seahawks?
Q: Right. He was really shifty in the open field in that way. I was wondering if you’ve talked to anyone from the Seahawks since the Combine, or been able to gauge any interest from them?
A: No, I haven’t gotten any feedback from the Seahawks. I heard they re-signed (Shaun) Alexander and his backup, (Maurice) Morris?
A: So, I don’t know if they’re going to take a running back as high as I want to go, but I would still love to go there.
Q: Sure – not a bad offensive line to run behind!
A: Man…I agree.
Q: Do you have special teams experience?
A: Yeah, I can catch kickoffs and punts.
Q: And that’s not something where, if you’re asked in the beginning of your NFL career to do that predominantly, it would bother you?
A: Oh, not at all. You’ve always gotta start from the bottom up. That’s my whole life – start from the bottom up.
Q: Have you heard from anyone that your size might be a drawback for a feature back at the next level?
A: I mean, people would say that at first, but then I had over 300 carries with no injuries, and no surgeries. So, it’s hard to say that.
Q: So, your response to that would be, “Look at the numbers.”
A: Right. All the yards, no injuries, no surgeries, haven’t missed a game in my whole career from high school on…hard to say.
Q: What is the strongest aspect of your game, and what is the thing you feel you most need to work on?
A: My strongest aspect is probably my balance, and my unique ability to make people miss in small areas. I probably need to work on my blocking technique most of all, and some pass drops.
Q: What are you doing currently to improve in those areas?
A: I’ve been working on it – working on techniques, watching video.
Q: How do you visualize your future in the NFL?
A: I think I’m probably going to start off on special teams – punt returns, things of that nature. Then, if somebody ends up getting hurt or something like that, and I’m going to get a shot, there would be no looking back.
Q: What do you love most about the game of football?
A: What it’s done for me, and my life. It’s been an outlet for my life.
Q: Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like people to know about you?
A: (long pause) I’m very blessed. And I appreciate all the support my family has given me. I want to thank my running backs coach (Kelly Skipper) – he put so much into me in the off-season. He really broke it down mentally and stripped me of my bad habits. I used to go out there, and just go on raw talent.
He taught me how read defenses, and to understand where everyone’s coming from. (Working on) technique, where the cutback lane’s going to be…he really just mentally rebuilt my game, and that had to be at least fifty percent of the reason I was successful last year.
Many thanks go to Jerome Harrison, Hilary Connelly of Octagon Football, and Scott Eklund.