“Jimmy Johnson recruited me and then Dennis Erickson coached me. I kind of established myself as being maybe a blue-collar, hard-working guy. I maybe wasn’t the most talented or the fastest guy out there but just a guy that gave a lot of effort and gave his all on every single play.”
Why did you switch from middle linebacker to defensive end at the University of Miami?
“Part of that was my choice because the guys that were playing in front of me were Michael Barrow, Jessie Armstead and Darren Smith, all guys that played in the NFL for more than 10 years. They were all a year older than I was, so I figured there was not going to be a chance that I would play until probably my senior year and I wanted to play before then. So I switched positions and ended up starting in the middle of my sophomore year as a defensive end.”
What was your career highlight, and why?
“I would say the second national championship we won in 1991. I had started games that year and played quite a bit. I got hurt towards the end of the year and I actually had surgery six days before we played that game, so I didn’t play a ton in that. Everything leading up to it was memorable, as were those three or four years stretched together. We beat Florida State a couple of times, we beat Texas pretty big the year before in the Cotton Bowl and just winning two national championships is huge, which always sticks with you and is a pretty big deal.”
How would you summarize your career?
“I would summarize it as just being a lot of fun and playing with a lot of phenomenal athletes. Looking back at those guys that I played with, it’s hard to believe that many guys were stretched out over the period I was there. You had Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland, those linebackers I spoke of, Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis were in there, and that’s just on defense. I don’t talk to as many of them as I probably would like to but it was a very enjoyable time and something I would never change.”
How do you feel your experience as a player has helped you as a coach?
“I think that’s one of the biggest things for me and that was one of the reasons why I never really got into the X’s and O’s side of it. I think about guys like (tight ends coach) Dan Campbell and he touches four guys. For me, I get to touch every guy on the team. Every guy that comes in and out I get a chance to build a relationship with and help them out. I think that’s the one thing that really draws me to strength and conditioning. I have the ability to help them and I can say to them, ‘Hey, I’ve been through what you’ve been through. I know what it’s like because I experienced it.’ I think sometimes that strength coaches that didn’t play the game, not to say they’re bad strength coaches, but they don’t understand as much of what takes place out on the field. They don’t necessarily correlate it to what needs to take place in the weight room, mixing those together and not messing it up. I think especially on this level there’s a really fine balance of doing too much and not doing too much. You’ve got to understand it’s a 20-game season, not including playoffs, so it’s about getting proper rest and keeping guys healthy. That’s something that coming from a player’s standpoint who had injuries and was limited based on the number of knee surgeries I had is a benefit.”