San Diego has turned it up a few notches over the last couple weeks. In their victory over the Houston Texans this past weekend Antonio played very well. From Peter King to ESPN, he has been getting a lot of press about his performance. Antonio was pleased with the way he played, saying, "I think I had a good performance. I still have some things that I need to improve on like reading offenses and tackling. I feel once I get those two things down I will become an elite corner in this league. My coaches were telling me after that I did a great job, but they expect me to do that every week. That's what I am trying to work on."
A lot is made of the transition from the college game to the pro game, especially when it comes to the speed aspect. For some it is easier to handle, while others never can catch up to it. Cromartie feels that the difference isn't as much as people think, "It's not really that different. Maybe the biggest difference between the two is the free time you have. In the NFL this is your job, and usually you are done by 5 p.m., whereas in college you have classes, practice and tutoring. There are times when your day isn't done until after 7 o'clock at night. Managing that free time is important. Stuff like the meetings themselves and practices are about the same. As far as the speed aspect, I think the difference wasn't that much. It's just learning the defensive packages and terminology. Also, I had the knee injury that is getting stronger and stronger every day. That hasn't been a problem for me in a while."
The Chargers have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the last few years. From playing with one of the all-time greats in LaDainian Tomlinson to a much publicized coaching change in the off-season, San Diego is always in the news. For Cromartie, it's been a dream to just be in the NFL and get a chance to play the game he loves. He says, "With LaDainian, I just sit back and watch him work. He works the hardest out there and it has paid off for him with the great things he is able to do. I know we started out a little slow, but it was more of us getting comfortable with the new coaches. We knew what we had to do and it's really up to us to get the job done. We have to go out there and perform like we are capable of. I have been enjoying the role I'm playing now. When I am on the field I just try to take advantage of the opportunities I get. I just try to excel when I can."
Coming out of high school Antonio was USA Today's Defensive Player of the Year and one of the top prospects in the nation, coming in as Scout.com's 2nd rated cornerback for the 2003 class. Coming from the Tallahassee area and FSU pipeline Lincoln High, many thought he was a lock to become a Seminole. After much debate and thought that did in fact come true. For Antonio, it was a decision that he thinks was one of the best he'd ever made. He says, "The three years I was there were great. I only got to play those two years because of the injury, but I had a chance to play for the best coaches in college football. FSU was always a dream school for me, and I liked how my family got a chance to see all of my home games. A couple times my freshman year I thought about transferring because I was only seeing time on special teams and I was butting heads with the coaches. After talking it over with my family and the coaches, I decided to stick with it and it turned out well for me. I would never change a thing how it turned out for me at FSU."
Even though he is now an NFL player, Antonio still keeps in touch and pays attention to what is going on with the Seminoles. "I still talk to some of the players and coaches to see what is going on there. When I watch them play, I think they need to play more as a team. Also, they just need some confidence in what they can do. They need to learn to trust the coaches and become confident in what they can do. I talk a lot to Mickey and Coach Bowden the most. Coach Andrews is like a friend to me. He can still tell me things that he see in when I play, but for the most part I like talking to him to just catch up to see how things are going. But, for the team, it comes down to confidence, especially on offense. It is a growth process and they need to trust that the coaches are going to put them in the right spot to excel," stated Cromartie.
When Cromartie made himself eligible for the NFL draft, some people questioned if it was the right decision. Coming off of an ACL injury and not playing for a year, there was little known in terms of where he'd go in the draft. For Antonio, it was something he felt he needed to do. He states, "I really had no idea where I was going to go. I was hearing rumors of late 1st/early 2nd, but I just let it be. I just was looking to come in and make an impact on a team. Getting drafted where I did was a big thing. Being the 19th pick was a blessing for me. I was very surprised I went when I did. I guess they saw something in me that they really liked and went and got me."
Antonio is another player in the long line of Seminoles that have had success in the NFL. He is proud to represent the Noles in the league, but he thinks the individual is what has helped maintain the success former Noles have had in the NFL. He says, "It's nice to be apart of the former Noles that are in the NFL. I think though that a person goes in and performs well too, and that makes up part of it. At FSU they taught me how to watch film and they run an NFL style defense. It made it easier for me because all I had to learn was the terminology. I'm just having fun doing what I do, so I wouldn't change anything at all in how this has turned out."