Q: Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston won’t be attending the NFL Draft, so you could be the first guy called up on stage. Have you thought about going up on stage as the first guy in this class to shake the commissioner’s hand?
Dante Fowler: “Yeah, just being the first guy, I know those guys aren’t going, but to have that opportunity to say that I might be the first guy to walk on stage. It’s a dream come true to be here and be in this situation. I’m very fortunate and blessed.”
Q: You’re wearing the gold watch you wore at the combine for your 40 with your cheetah print cleats. You’re very big into fashion. I hear you have a special suit that you’re going to wear on draft night, what is it?
Fowler: “Well I don’t want to tell it now, but it’s very unique and it’s different.”
Q: What color is it going to be?
Q: So it’s going to stand out?
A: “Yeah, hopefully I look pretty good.”
Q: Your hometown Buccaneers have the number one pick and have been linked to a lot of quarterbacks. Should they go with quarterback or where should they go?
Fowler: “They should go, in my opinion, with what they need. That’s their organization and I know their coach has to live with that down the road and in the future. He needs to get whoever he needs to get, if that’s a quarterback or me possibly. Who knows. They’ll make the right decision and do the right thing.”
Q: You’re versatile on defense, but what’s your favorite position on defense?
Fowler: “Well, me growing up and playing in a lot of defenses, Coach Muschamp was really multiple with his schemes, playing 3-4 and 4-3. I played linebacker all my life growing up. I got too big and in 10th grade I moved to defensive end. Linebacker was always second nature for me. Defensive end is just what I can do. I can put my hand in the dirt and go get the quarterback for you. I’m really comfortable doing anything. I can put my hand in the dirt, rush off the edge or I can stand up and you can move me around to different areas to give the offense some headaches.”
Q: You smiled when you said sacking the quarterback, and not many people can do that. What’s it like to sack the quarterback?
Fowler: “It’s like scoring a touchdown. Us front guys in that front seven really don’t have an opportunity to score like that. Once you get a sack, they don’t come often, especially in a league when quarterbacks get the ball out faster. Once you get them, it’s a great feeling like scoring a touchdown. That’s why you celebrate it.”
Q: You took out an ad in the Gainesville Sun to thank Florida fans when you announced you were leaving early. Why did you do that?
Fowler: “Because they were good to me. They supported me through everything, even when I was coming out of high school to the point when I made my decision as a junior. I had an opportunity to come back, but they respected my decision and knew that it was the best thing for me to do. Gator Nation has always been there for me. They’re the best fans in the land.”
Q: After that, you went to a Florida basketball game and spent some time in the student section. What was that like?
Fowler: “It was great. It was awesome. Just being able to be part of the Rowdy Reptiles, they get really wild up there in Gainesville, especially at the basketball games. Just being able to be there, have fun and listen to ‘Turn Down for What,’ I dance a lot and they played my favorite song. I got to go out there and do some of my dance moves.”
Q: There’s a great story that your father said to you when you were 10 years old that if you kept playing well, you would be a millionaire when you were 21 years old. That dream is going to be realized next week, what has this process been like?
Fowler: “To see how my hard work paid off. I was one of those guys that was really dedicated, especially at a young age. I grew up playing football. I grew up in the sport and my dad was a high school football coach. I think he loves it more than me. He bleeds football. When he coached me, you could just tell it was something different with how he coached me. He wanted me to be great and knew I had some greatness in me. I just wanted to show him and my parents that I could do this, and I’ll do it the right way.”
Q: Will you dance on stage at the draft?
Fowler: “Oh yeah, for sure. It’s going to be so many emotions going around up there. I don’t know if I’m going to be happy or emotional. Who knows? I might break something out."