Karney Ready to Continue Hard Work in the Pros

Between his iron man awards for his conditioning performance, and pushing cars in his spare time, no one has worked harder during their ASU tenure than Mike Karney. The fullback told DevilsDigest that now that he was selected by the New Orleans Saints, he is ready to dedicate himself to the game even more.

In order to ease his transition into the NFL, Mike Karney was given very pragmatic advice by a 12-year NFL veteran and a fellow fullback. "Lorenzo Neal told me that I need to continue what I've been doing to get myself here," said Karney. "He told me that a lot of guys in the NFL don't like to work hard. So I'll continue to work on my game, and do the small things like watch a lot of film, and that will help me succeed. Learning every new technique my coach teaches is critical. I just need to master my art."

There are very few NFL cities that offer more off the field distractions than the Big Easy. Nevertheless, Karney plans to stay away from the bright city lights for a while. "I'm not a guy that's big on going out," he remarked. "I'm gonna go to work, come home, go to bed, wake up, and go back to work. I'm very much into what I do. This is my 9 to 5 job, and in this business I have to produce. No time soon will you see me on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter (smile)."

Karney stated that he has been "on cloud nine" ever since his name was called on Sunday, and that reality won't sink in until he gets to the team facility on Thursday. Even though he was drafted a little lower (in the fifth round) than his own expectations, he's more than pleased with the team that selected him. "I was hoping to get drafted late third round, early fourth," said the fullback. "But it's hard for fullbacks to get drafted in the first day. I'm very happy with the team that drafted me. They're a team that needs me, and has been talking to me for a long time. Terrelle Smith played there, so there's a little ASU tie. I'm real excited about it."

The former ASU player wasn't surprised at the least by the fact that the Saints picked him. After all, he said the writing was clearly on the wall. "They talked to me at the NFL combine," commented Karney, "and said that they were looking for a fullback, because Terrelle Smith is a free agent this year. They talked to me through out the whole process all the way up to the draft. They kept me updated on what's going on, and I talked to the running backs coach the whole time. I'm thankful and happy that they picked me."

"I talked to 21 teams at the combine," Karney continued. "I did my homework, researched all the teams, and pretty much knew every fullback there is to know in the NFL. When teams talked to me, I already knew if they already had a good fullback, and if they were really gonna draft one. Besides New Orleans the teams that stood out to me were Minnesota, Denver, San Francisco, and Buffalo. Cleveland was there too, but once they signed Terrelle, I knew that they weren't gonna draft another fullback."

The normally humble Karney said that he believes that his game film, which was watched by the Saints' brass for some time now, it what ultimately attracted New Orleans to him. "My career speaks for myself," he said. "The running backs coach told me that he was looking at me since my freshman year. My agent played for the Saints' running backs coach, so besides Terrelle that was another tie. More than anything, in the end they thought I was the best option at fullback."

However where Karney does show his trademark unassuming nature, is when he realizes how long the NFL had scouted him. "It blows my mind that he showed me film of me throwing blocks my freshman year," Karney explained. "I'm thinking ‘man, this guy knows his stuff.' Running backs coaches usually don't get their information until after the season. So, for a guy to show me blocks from my freshman year just shows me that the guy really knows what he's doing."

Karney said that his tenure with the Sun Devils was in actuality one big audition tape. "Ever since I got to college, players were telling me ‘eyes are always on you.' I was blessed to come to a school like Arizona State, where I got to play with talented players like Adam Archuleta, Todd Heap, Levi Jones…scouts were always at our school watching film. I just knew that if I worked hard and played consistently, that this day would come and I would be playing in the NFL."

Many football experts call the fullback position a dying breed. Karney doesn't necessarily disagree, but nonetheless hates hearing that term. "People say that, but I don't like to say that because I'm a fullback (smile)," exclaimed Karney. "I was talking about that to Lorenzo Neal from the Chargers a couple of weeks ago, and he said ‘I'm with you, I hate when people call me that.' So me and Lorenzo are trying to get that saying to go away (smile). Deep down I know it's a dying breed, but hopefully that changes."

The fullback does believe that his position is extremely underrated, yet still vital for the success of some of the best rushers in the NFL. "I think that if you watch running backs that rush the ball successfully," said Karney, "like Ahman Green, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Deuce McAllister – they all had a leading fullback almost every time they touched the ball. I think the teams see the success of that. But they weren't a lot of fullbacks drafted, only three or four or us got picked, unlike last year where nine fullbacks picked. This year there just wasn't a big need for us, and I was fortunate that the Saints needed one and that Terrelle signed with someone else. I did get lucky."

Speaking of dying breed, when the transition occurred between Coach Bruce Snyder and Dirk Koetter, Karney was genuinely concerned that Koetter's offensive schemes didn't have room for a player with his set of skills. "Snyder was a more straight I-formation, running between the tackles type of coach," he said. "When Koetter came, I was concerned because I heard he was more of a one back spread guy. But Coach Koetter allowed the position to be available. He liked the way I played, and he thought I was good enough to play fullback in his offense. He also allowed me to expand my game. I was able to be in motion, catch the ball, be a pass protector…those are things that will help me a lot in the NFL."

Mike Karney was never one to hold back on his true sentiments, so we asked him about his feelings regarding ASU's performance in 2003, as well as the prospects for the future. "Looking back I saw a very young team with not a lot of experience," he said. "I think we tried to convince ourselves that we had it , but deep down we just didn't have the experience to be successful in the Pac-10. Talking to the guys in the spring, I think they have a better grasp on things and the experience level is higher. I know those guys will be working hard, and I think they'll be more successful. I wish them the best."

Another staple of the fullback, and this one more materialistic in nature, is his famous ragged Fullback Mobile , which is has more dents on it than miles. Now that he stands to be receiving NFL paychecks, what does the future hold for his current vehicle? "The fullback mobile will be always be with me (smile)," he said. "Wherever I live I will keep it with me. To me it's a true artifact. It's a monument. That's something that will be with me all my life. But I think I'll have to drive into the team headquarters with a nicer car. I'll be keeping the fullback mobile. I just won't be driving it much more."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories