Interview with Willie Gaston

"Seeing all the Cougar fans in the stands, children coming up to us for autographs, fans and family outside the dressing room gives me a great feeling and makes me proud to be a Cougar. I want to be a part of bringing us back to the level we once held." - Willie Gaston

Caught up with Willie for a chat following the Miss St. game, and we talked about the team and their recent success. Willie is doing an outstanding job at the corner while replacing injured Roland Cola. Willie says he came to UofH to make plays and his recent success on the field backs up what he says, as he has taken the ball away from opponents in each of the two games he started at LoLa and Miss. St.

Q. Willie, in the Miss. St. game you made an interception in the end zone and you were really up high in the air. Do you know what your vertical leap is?
WG. I haven't tested since high school, but I tested at 34" at North Shore. I have always been able to jump really high and don't have any problems dunking a basketball.

Q. What are your personal and team goals for the remainder of the 2003 season?
WG. My personal goals are the same as the goals our team has and that is to win the rest of our games and go to a bowl game and bring home a ring. We want to be conference champs.

Q. Give us your perspective on the new offense we are running.
WG. I like to see them out there moving the ball and scoring. I really like all the different formations and sets, also Coach Briles uses all his backs and receivers. Sometimes it looks crazy out there.

Q. What is your take on the defense this year?
WG. I didn't like the 4-2-5 defense and didn't think we had enough speed to run that defense last year. This year we are a lot faster and in the 4-3 defense we have better zone blitz packages and it has helped us play better this year.

Q. Willie, during recruiting you appeared to be a Houston lean early then all of a sudden UCLA was recruiting you heavily and invited you to Las Angeles and made an offer to you on your official visit. So, what happened and how did you decide on UofH?
WG. Actually, I was Houston all the way. A coach made a visit from UCLA and told me he wanted me to come to the west coast to have a look around and I decided to go out there. I still had Houston #1 and was sure when I saw that they didn't have as good of facilities or anything like we have that it helped me decide that I still wanted to go to UofH. Plus UCLA was too far away from home.

Q. What are some of the changes and adjustments you have had to make with the offensive and defensive changes that have taken place with the new staff?
WG. I have tried to get out of the old habits and work with the new coaches and make sure that I keep myself coachable. My job is to make plays and that's what I came here to do.

Q. Tell us a little about your new position coach and new head coach.
WG. Coach Odom is a cool, down to earth guy and we have fun, but we get serious and down to business when we take the field. All our coaches are open and helpful when it comes to teaching players.

Q. Could you give us your thoughts concerning the C-USA title chase and the teams we have to beat to have a chance to win it.
WG. I think TCU might be the one to beat and I think we can beat them here at home. As far as the other games, we just need to go out and play ball and take the title.

Q. What are your studies and career plans at this time?
WG. I am studying Kinesiology and if I don't make it to the next level, I would like to be a GA here at UofH.

Q. On the interference call in Lafayette, tell us what happened on the play. Were you blocking the receiver or were you looking up for the ball?
WG. The referee said that I cut the receiver off, but I was going for the ball. Coach said that was a bad call. I just kept my mind on the game and trying to make plays.

Q. What makes you the most proud to be a Houston Cougar?
WG. Seeing all the Cougar fans in the stands, children coming up to us for autographs, fans and family outside the dressing room gives me a great feeling and makes me proud to be a Cougar. I want to be a part of bringing us back to the level we once held.

Q. How about the fan support this year?
WG. It's awesome, looking up at the stands and seeing it totally packed. It gives a different feeling than when I used to come and watch my brother play a couple of years ago and it was empty.

Q. Speaking of Levi, what is his status?
WG. He is going to try and make a comeback in the spring next year.

Q. What would you like to tell CoogFans today?
WG. Keep supporting us like you have been, we're not going to let anybody down this year and we are working hard to win.

Great to visit with Willie again, and like he says, he came here to make plays and I guess, just about everybody knows it by now. Keep up the great work Willie.


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