For LSU linebacker Kevin Minter the 2012 season has been an opportunity to showcase the skills he always knew he had. The junior has racked up 111 tackles (a team high), 13.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. With that kind of production it's easy to see why teammates of Minter voted him Most Valuable Player for the 2012 season.
However, to Minter, the honor came as a big surprise.
"It's the team that votes for you," said Minter. "It was nice to get the vote from them for MVP of the team. It showed me that they have a lot of respect for me and that I mean a lot to the team. I was pretty surprised because I didn't know if I was actually going to get it. It's a tremendous honor."
Minter explained that the announcement of him as MVP for LSU, made at the team's banquet Sunday night, came as a big surprise. The 6-1 242-pound linebacker said it was a surprise because he didn't produce points for the Tigers this season.
While he was surprised that he received it, Minter explained that being named MVP was a great achievement.
"It was announced to me at the banquet," said Minter. "I didn't have a speech ready or anything. I was actually looking down at my plate and all of a sudden they said my name. It was a complete surprise. It didn't choke me up, but for my teammates to actually vote for me made for one of the best achievements in my career.
"It was surprising because I'm a linebacker. I don't score points or anything, so I wasn't really expecting it, but I'm glad I got it."
Minter went on to explain the reason that he had the season he had was because he started listening to his coaches to max out his potential.
"I started playing to my potential," said Minter. "Everybody said that I had to start playing up to my potential to be a great player here. After the off-season that I had, I was able to get my confidence up to get the play calls right and everything. It just all came to me as the season went on."
Minter explained that, at first, it was tough to grab the concept of what it would take to play up to his potential. He believed it was just a matter of maturing a little bit, and that was realized very quickly when he found out he wasn't going to see the field as early as he had planned. Minter also credited the LSU coaching staff for making him realize he could be a great player.
"Coming out of high school, I was riding high and I thought I knew everything, which I didn't," said Minter. "I was thinking I was going to play early and I was expecting it to happen. It kind of hit me in the face a little bit when I didn't get on the field. It made me humble myself and work a lot harder.
"It took me getting to LSU to realize that I didn't know everything. I had to learn a lot of concepts and coverages and Chief stayed on me. I feel like I'm just a product of good coaching now."
Minter said that the adjustment he would have to make at the college level was realized in his first practice as a Tiger.
"The first practice everything was moving a lot faster than I expected it to," said Minter. "The linemen were coming at me as soon as the ball was snapped. It was surreal. Everybody said it was fast, but I didn't really believe them. Everybody was moving much faster. I had to really wake up quickly."
While he had a great season on the field, Minter explained that his greatest accomplishment was earning his degree from LSU, something he said his mother required of him from a very early age.
"My mother told me that football was big for me, but I was going to LSU to get a degree," said Minter. "Since I got to campus, it was very important to me that I made that happen.
"I came here with that mentality because my mom always told me that I was going to college and going to get my degree, before I knew I was going to be able to play football at this level. When I was behind on my schooling, my football play suffered. When you have everything organized in your life everything comes a lot easier."
When he committed to LSU before his senior season at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., Minter had seen what he has grown to love about LSU during his time in Baton Rouge.
"The atmosphere and the coaches," said Minter. "I feel like coach Miles had a real passion for this game and for his team and I wanted to play for a guy like that. Also, getting to play for Chief, who is one of the best coordinators to ever be in the SEC was a big selling point for me."
Hailing from Georgia, Minter is definitely excited to end the 2012 season in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, even though the team had higher aspirations early in the season.
"It is great to end the way we started, playing back in Georgia and everything," said Minter. "We wanted to play in the national championship, but this isn't a bad consolation for me. Playing in front of my people will be like high school again."
With the season that he had, Minter improved his draft stock for the 2013 NFL Draft significantly. While that is the case, Minter explained that he has not given any real thought to foregoing his senior season, at this point.
"To be honest with you, I'm thinking about it, but I'm not too worried about it," said Minter. "After the game my family and I will discuss my future and what it might be."
Minter reflects on being named team MVP
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