Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
28 Feb 2008
compiled by Doug Farrar
"I just felt like it was the best situation for me this year. I just looked at the situation, the draft class, the guards and whatnot. I just felt like I could make a strong, competitive effort by coming out."
-- Virginia guard Branden Albert on why he decided to enter the NFL draft as an underclassman
"It was real touching. Me and Kevin became close through the process. When I went to Miami for my visit he was there and I've talked to him ever since my high school time. I wore his jersey number in the Monroe game (9/15/07) and then in the Miami game because he played at Miami."
-- Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett on his relationship with Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the 2007 season
"After the Miami game we had some down time because it was a Thursday night game so I went down to the hospital and as soon as I got there he started talking trash because we lost to them. Me and him have always had a good relationship."
"It was about two weeks before the Senior Bowl. I caught what I believe was a parasite, and I ended up losing 17 pounds in eight days. It was unfortunate. I've gained most of the weight back. I've gained most of the strength back. I feel healthy today."
-- Notre Dame tight end John Carlson on the "bug" that prevented him from playing in the Senior Bowl
"It was disappointing not to play in the Senior Bowl, especially after a tough season in which we didn't get to a bowl game. The Senior Bowl was my bowl game. I'd been training since Dec. 11. It was disappointing, but I had no control over it. I've done everything I can to get back healthy and where I am."
"I was a basketball player. I thought I could make it in basketball. I thought I could make it in basketball. I thought I could play basketball. It turns out I couldn't jump worth nothing."
-- Kansas offensive tackle Anthony Collins on being recruited out of Beaumont, Texas, in a different sport
"I've kind of had an injury-plagued career. That's a big question with me is my durability. Today we had all the medical testing and everything went fine for me. So I think that question is kind of being erased for me now. All this is maybe a little more important for me, missing nine games of my senior season. There might be a little more emphasis. They might be watching me a little more closely."
-- Tennessee tight end Brad Cottam on his injury history
"No, I wasn't against it. I usually do what a coach tells me to do. It worked out pretty good for me. I enjoy playing offense, and I like it when defensive linemen complain that offensive linemen are holding them."
-- UTEP offensive tackle Oniel Cousins on the move from left to right tackle in 2007
"I think I gave up one sack (last year). I don't remember. I have a short memory. I'm like a quarterback."
"That was my wakeup call. I made the transition all the way from Ohio to California, I think I still had a little bit of homesickness in me. Not being used to that, I made a mistake. I could've made my flight earlier to come back, but I didn't. I learned a lot from that, and to make better decisions since then."
-- USC tight end Fred Davis on staying home instead of going to the Orange Bowl as a freshman
"We actually only lost four games in eight years playing little league. So we were a dominant team around the area ... The Uni-Bears? ... John Patton? And Patrick Abernathy? They started me off. I definitely keep in contact with them. Not only did I play football for them, but basketball and baseball. So I was around them for a long time."
-- Auburn offensive tackle King Dunlap on his (very) early sporting exploits
"The only word you can use is exceptional. You can't ask for better running backs than we had in our backfield. As an offensive lineman, that's what you dream about, is having good running backs like that so you don't have to block, just right. Those guys will make you right every time, so it was a wonderful experience."
-- Arkansas offensive lineman Robert Felson on blocking for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones
"I think it is a skill if you can get away with it and not get caught. I try to make sure I get my hands inside every single play so that if I do hold a little bit the, refs will not be able to see it."
-- Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long on his ability to hold without "holding"
"Last night, I was asked, 'what's the coolest thing you've ever done?' You hear all these questions that are real serious, you get hit with, 'What's the coolest thing you've ever done?' You think, 'I didn't prepare for this one.' I told 'em 'Meeting Kenny Chesney last summer.' The experience has been great so far."
-- Pitt offensive lineman Mike McGlynn on the weirdest question he's been asked
"How much of a leader on and off the field I am and my character is something a lot of guys can look up to. I have other hobbies and things I like to do besides football. Fishing is something I love to do and I always think I'm going to be the next Bassmaster champion. But just my character and just me being a leader, it's something that if NFL teams don't know now, they will know later."
-- Marshall quarterback Bernard Morris on what he wants teams to know about him
"Combine prep is a whole animal in itself. I mean, you're preparing for drills you've never done before -- we've done them before but we've never really practiced for them -- and after this we'll never have to do them again. It's like a two-month process of training for three or four drills that after this, it will be over and we'll be back to training for football."
-- Colorado offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus on his preparation for this event
"The reason I came out early because is because of my mother. My mother has a tumor the size on a six-month old in her stomach, but my mother has no insurance. My dad's dealing with injuries -- two hernias got taken out of his stomach -- and he has no insurance. So basically, I had an opportunity and I had to go. I would have loved to have come back and get my degree and play another year under Coach Carroll. At the same time, I had to do what's best for my family."
-- USC offensive lineman Chilo Rachal on why he declared early for the draft
"I'm going to be with my family. I'm from a small town. There's probably going to be a draft party. My dad and his buddies want to do something. I think before the draft I'm going to be a nervous wreck waiting for the phone calls. I'm probably going to be off doing my own thing. Maybe I'll be shooting guns. I do a lot of hunting and fishing."
-- Oregon State guard Roy Schuening on how he'll stay calm during the draft
"I've been nicked on, pulled on, X-rayed and MRIed to death. The MRI is a big thing. If you are a big guy you feel violated in a sense because you can't move and it's such a tight space ... You feel like you're being violated."
-- Tennessee offensive lineman Eric Young on the Combine medical tests
"It's going to be an adjustment phase. You're used to guys being either big and strong or little and fast. Out here, they're both. It's going to take time to get used to, but I'm confident I have all the physical attributes that I'll be able to adjust."
-- Rutgers guard Jeremy Zuttah on how he'll adjust at the next level
"The one thing you don't get to do at the combine is play football. You get to do everything, but you still don't get to play. That's why the Senior Bowl is good. That's why stuff like that is good. That's why when you go out there, some guys look good in drills and they can't play in the game to save their lives. Some guys look terrible in drills and they're great."
-- Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge on the Combine Process
"It's not the only factor, so I think kind of knowing that and not having the attitude that it doesn't matter, but the attitude that it's another piece of the puzzle helps guys get through this weekend and do well on Sunday."
"He's kind of paved the way for the little slot receivers out there."
-- Texas Tech wide receiver Danny Amendola on New England's Wes Welker
"Man. Sed(rick Ellis) was unblockable at times. Then having that linebacker corps, there were a lot of good linebackers that will be coming out next year that could have come out this year. And then you add that with Keith (Rivers, outside linebacker), and it's an awesome defense. You see guys come out, and then they replace them the next year, and they're superstars right away."
-- USC offensive tackle Sam Baker on practicing against his defensive teammates
"From his second year to his third year he made a tremendous leap. He played as a true freshman and he got injured, so he missed his entire second year. So he was a redshirt sophomore, and he really came on for us. We weren't sure what we were going to get out of him. But when he started playing well he became dominant last year, and this year he took it to a new level."
-- Ohio State offensive tackle Kirk Barton on teammate Vernon Gholston
"I was fortunate to practice against him, and again that's another great thing about Ohio State. You can't really put a value on the type of competition you face everyday. Vernon is probably going to be a top-10 or top-15 pick, and he'll blow up the Combine and all the testing. He's just physically freakish. But going against him helps you for the all-star games and it helps prepare you for the next level."
"Basketball was probably my worst sport. I really couldn't dribble or outshoot anybody, but I was taller and more athletic than most of the guys. Football was a lot different. You need to be as athletic as you can be, and everybody at the pro level will be as athletic as you, or moreso. You have to really learn techniques, especially at wide receiver as far as running routes."
-- Iowa State wide receiver Todd Blythe on the sport he could never play well
"He's had a great impact. It all started when my mom sold him a horse. He was buying a horse for his daughter and she mentioned me, that I was a punter in high school. It was my junior year. He was like, 'You know, you ought to send him to one of my camps.' I went that summer before my senior year and got to know him really well."
-- Georgia Tech punter Durant Brooks on his relationship with legendary NFL punter Ray Guy, and the Ray Guy award he won
"My mom saw him in the grocery store and around town. It's a small town. He would always ask about me and make sure I'm doing OK. He kept up with me. We didn't work that much in college. One reason, I think the political aspects of the award. People might say I won the award, or I'm up for it, just because I'm friends with him or something like that. He kind of stayed away, but still kept up with me."
"He's helped me from day one. What to look for and some of the things to prepare for. I think I've got a head start on most athletes out here because I know what to look for and how to prepare for certain things. I talk to him four times a day and know what's going to be going on out here. He keeps me updated."
-- Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell on his relationship with brother Reche of the Washington Redskins
"Yeah, guys like Hines Ward, Anquan Boldin. We're very similar as far as body, build, being able to run after the catch, and physical-type guys who don't mind going in there and doing the dirty work and blocking upfield, cracking on linebackers. Whatever it takes."
-- LSU wide receiver Early Doucet on the players he tries to emulate
"Obviously, I can't do anything about my size. But obviously, when you talk about speed at the running back position, everybody wants you to go out there and run a good 40. But if you talk to coaches, certain coaches care about your 40, other coaches don't. If you want to talk about Ahmad Bradshaw, I think he might have run a 4.6 last year at the combine. Look at what he did in the NFL. He doesn't look like he runs a 4.6. When he's on that field, he's a change-of-pace back."
-- Michigan running back Mike Hart on the importance of measurables
"So I think when you look at a guy like that, you can say that a 40 doesn't mean that much. When you look at a guy like Adrian Peterson, who comes out here and runs a 4.38, then speed means a lot. So I guess it's just your take on who the coach is, what they feel."
"Jerry's a great dude. I'm just very fortunate for me to be able to work with him. Like I say, he came on and he was just very supportive of me. Like I said, great mentor. He has all the right things to say. Basically off the field was the biggest thing that he tried to preach to me. How you treat people when you go meet people and things like that, because you'll always be able to build relationships and people will remember you."
-- Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the mentorship of Jerry Rice
"Coming out of high school, in my senior year, there was a point in the middle where I didn't think I'd ever play college football because of the fact that at the combine I was 5-feet-11 and 145 pounds, and in my senior year I was playing at about 6-feet, 150, and no one was really recruiting me, so I didn't know what was ahead of me in the future."
-- San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson on his development as a quarterback
"I just wanted the opportunity to play college football, and Coach (Jim) Harbaugh gave me that, and that's when I began to grow into my body. In high school, I looked like I was about 12. I just developed everything. My physical features started to develop, Coach Harbaugh really helped my mind grow a lot, and it all started coming together at San Diego."
"There are positives and negatives to it. One of them is you haven't taken a lot of the beating as some of the senior guys. But at the same time you don't have as much experience. It's definitely a double-edged sword as far as being a junior and coming out early."
-- Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall on coming out as a junior
"I think I really just have to be myself. I actually ran the ball a lot at Rutgers and we stuck to our game plans. I definitely want to go out there and start catching the ball. I think that will stick out. It's not going to be a problem. I caught a lot of passes during practice and during spring ball where I was lined up in a slot and ran routes."
-- Rutgers running back Ray Rice on what sets him apart from all the great junior backs
"That's just a part of my game that hasn't been seen. But with this weekend and all the events here and me being able to participate in all the events, you'll definitely see a lot more to my game that probably wasn't shown on TV or shown on film."
"Since I was little. It's a passion of mine to play football. It's something I've been blessed to do. It's something that God gave me the talent to be good at. I'm just thankful, really. That's the word of the day: thankful."
-- Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart on his dreams of playing in the NFL
"I love me some Ike Hilliard."
-- Louisville receiver Harry Douglas, when asked about his favorite receivers
"Yeah, I do, I still play a lot. One or two games every week. Guys on my team. I don't play for money."
-- Michigan defensive back Jamar Adams, on his chess addiction
"Me and my friend, Matthew Brooks, back at Arizona started a foundation called Cason Cares. My grandfather (Royce Rambo) died of leukemia, MDS (myelodsplastic syndrome), in February of '07. And he was a role model to me. He's done everything for the family. My senior year I wanted to do something to honor him for what he's done for me and my family. And I sold the bracelets, $3 apiece at Arizona, and all the money went to the American Cancer Society. Mathew and I raised about $7,000 in two months just between the two of us."
-- Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason, on the foundation he's already started
"It was a great experience for me to see the foundation side, how the business side works, in college, being a young man growing up trying to do some things that don't benefit me. Everything is now about me. Me, me, all the time. I wanted to give back and do something positive, and pretty much everyone can relate to."
"I'm never surprised. I always try to set myself up to hear wild things. Some stuff I just wonder where people get it from. Even the reports saying I was not coming. I don't know where that came from. It is what it is. I'm just trying to enjoy myself and make sure I'm taking care of my responsibility. Everybody is going to have their opinion on what they think about me and my game, but as long as I'm taking care of my business, that is all that matters to me."
-- LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, on his late arrival at the Combine and the reported concerns about the lasting effects of his 2006 tibia injury
"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, 'Dad, you're an old man now. It's not your time anymore.' 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."
-- Virginia defensive end Chris Long, on dad Howie's insistence on not sharing the spotlight with his gifted children
"It was awesome. It was a good time. I trained so hard for it -- six or seven weeks. Then having 40 teammates coming to support me and another 60 from home, it was definitely one of the better experiences of my life."
-- Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski, on his 2006 boxing match in Madison Square Garden, where he knocked out his opponent in 49 seconds
13 comments, Last at 02 Mar 2008, 4:40pm by Justin Zeth