Tiger rag staff writer Damian Foley caught up with LSU's hottest new linebacker that is projecting to be the starter Sam linebacker on opening day.

TR: What does E.J. stand for?


Kuale: It's from Nigeria, my name is actually Ejiro. It was just hard for a lot of people to pronounce, so people started calling me E.J. for short. It started with my stepdad, my sister's dad, he started calling me E.J. It's a [gender-neutral] name, it's common in Nigeria for men and women to have it. I have a lot of relatives, and there are a lot of people, here and in Nigeria, who have it as a name. My father is from Nigeria. He was going to

school in Daytona, Florida, and he met my mother who was living in Alabama.

She moved to Daytona to be close to him. I have a lot of family in Florida.



TR: When you were looking for a Division 1-A college to attend, you looked at several big name programs, including Florida, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. What made you choose LSU?


Kuale: LSU projected a defensive mentality, and I loved that. If you're going to stop us, you'd better come with it, because we take the mindset that teams don't prepare to beat us - we prepare to beat them.



TR: How heavily did Nick Saban's reputation as a defensive-oriented head coach factor into your decision to choose LSU?


Kuale: If definitely factored in. With a defensive-minded head coach, you experience college football a lot more. A lot of head coaches these days are offensive-minded, and defense is an afterthought. I wanted to go somewhere defense would be a big factor, where it was a big part of the team.



TR: Coach Saban has always been quick to stress the importance of not comparing the 2003 and 2004 editions of the LSU Tigers. Has that been something he has talked to the new players about - not being 2003 pt II, but being 2004 pt I?


Kuale: It's something we're all aware of, definitely, and this team does have it's own identity. Even though the 2003 team was national champs, that's over with, it's in the past. We have Oregon State to prepare for, and if we're not ready then Oregon State will dismantle us. He talks about that all the time.



TR: The Tigers may be able to put it out of their minds, but other teams will be gearing up to beat you - you will be their 'National Championship' game every week. How does it feel to have that target on your back?


Kuale: We don't feel like we have a target on our backs at all. Coach (Saban) prepares us to think that teams aren't gearing up to play us - we're gearing up to play them. We have to bring our best every week, and the results will take care of themselves.

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