Q & A With Jonathan Vilma

Not only was the wided-eyed then-freshman living out a dream of suiting up in orange and green, he was about to be tutored and shown the ropes by Dan Morgan-a qualified source. Morgan was putting the finishing touches on a career considered the grandest by any Hurricanes middle linebacker in the school's history, while Vilma was getting a chance to grow.

Vilma has grown up in a hurry.

Q: What was learning and getting to watch Dan Morgan perform like for you?
A: Dan is a student of the game and works harder than anybody I know. We used to breakdown film all the time and Dan wouldn't let us leave until he felt we had everydown down from tendencies on offense to your positioning on the field. It was crazy, but at the same time a great advantage. Imagine coming in and learning from the best.

Q: Was playing right away in your plans?
A: Anybody, I don't care who it is is lying if they say they don't want to play right away. I came in with the approach of working my tail off and that hopefully thinks would work out. The coaching staff had enough faith in me to play me right away.

Q: Morgan goes down against McNeese State and you get the call. What's going throght your mind?
A: Eveything was happening so fast it was kind of overwhelming at first. It was a bit shocking at first, but once a got that first contact I was fine. It was thrill to be on the Orange Bowl grass. Awesome (had 10 tackles in game).

Q: What about your first UM-FSU experience?
A: Everything goes up a notch. I had never been with a bunch of guys that were so juiced for a game. It is something I'll never forget.

Q: Any thoughts on Butch Davis
A: Coach Davis made a decision and I respect that. Hopefully things work out for him.

Q: You guys really pulled for Larry Coker to get the job. Why?
A: We felt Coach Coker was the right fit. He has been there a while and knows the program inside, out. With Coker there wasn't going to be a lot of changes.

Q: Like playing defense for Randy Shannon?
A: We believe in the system and its been a lot of fun just blitzing and being agressive. What player wouldn't like that.

Q: How's the knee?
A: It'll swell once in a while, but I'm still playing at the same level as before. I'm not concerned about it. I just have to go out and continue to play hard.

Q: Any national championship thoughts?
A: Whenever you play at Miami you're going to have high expectations around you. We know where we want to be at the end of the season. We just have to get better every game in order to get there.

Q: Is last season any motivation for you guys?
A: It happened and we can't turn back the clock. I would have loved to play Oklahoma but it wasn't meant to be I guess. We have to go out every week and take care of business so that won't happen again.

Q: What are some of the things Jonathan Vilma needs to become even a better player?
A: I want to get faster and stronger. At this point, I just have to stay within myself and help this team win in whatever way I can help them to do that.

Q: Linebacker U?
A: Its an honor to wear this uniform and be compared with such great players before me. I just want to play and help this program win a lot of football games.

Q: Frank Gore
A: A special talent. You're going to be hearing a lot about Frank Gore for many years.

VIBE ON VILMA
6-2, 211.......replaced Butkus Award winner Dan Morgan as the Hurricanes starting middle linebacker.......played significantly behind Morgan as a freshman last year.......sharp student who speaks French, Spanish and Portuguese.considered the leader of the defensive unit..missed final two weeks of spring practice with knee injury suffered riding a wave runner..........came back to claim starting spot over Chris Campbell....potential to join or surpass Morgan and Ray Lewis as best MLB ever at Miami....considered leader of defense........played with Frank Gore at Coral Gables High School..........Born April 16, 1982

Canes Time Top Stories