Interview: LB Jonathan Vilma

Jonathan Vilma is entering his junior season as the starting middle linebacker. He lead the team in tackles a year ago (82) and plans to improve on that this year. He takes some time to review the magical 2001 season and look ahead to the 2002 campaign. He breaks down spring ball for us and provides some feedback on the up and comers.

What are you working on this spring?
I'm working on a lot of the details. I am working on my technique and recognition of the play. I am trying to be mentally sharp and focused for every snap I take.

What is your current height, weight and 40?
I'm 6-1 223 and at a 4.5 right now.

How are your spring workouts going?
I pretty much listen to coach Swasey. When I am finished with my workout I'll ask him if there is anything extra I should do and he'll have me do some extra sit-ups or pull-ups but outside of that I always listen to him as he knows what is best for me.

Thoughts on spring ball?
The defense is doing better than last year. This is the second year in coach Shannon's scheme and we look a lot sharper. There is no more "getting to know each other" between coach Shannon and the players. I think things are better than this point last year.

Thoughts on the 2002 season?
We are going to take one game at a time. I'm not really looking at one game more than another. We did that last year and it worked well. I just want to prepare each week for whoever we're playing.

What are your personal goals for 2002?
First of all I want to start. I never take for granted that the spot is mine. Secondly I want to lead the team in tackles. And after that I want to improve my interceptions and sacks. I had some opportunities to do some things last year and didn't get the job done. I want to improve on these things and that will make me a better player.

Why Miami out of high school?
It was a combination of things. I was a fan growing up plus it was close to home. Actually seeing it and how things were done was all I needed. I knew after visiting here that it was where I was going.

Have things gone as expected?
Sure, losing one game in two years isn't too bad (laughing).

Talk about some players to watch for in 2002
Roger McIntosh #50 is one. He looks real good in practice. Jarrett Payton is looking very good and is running with a purpose. I expect him to do well this fall. Kellen Winslow is also doing very well. He catches everything thrown to him and he has been very impressive.

Who has been your toughest opponent you've faced?
As far as one player I'd have to say Greg Jones from Florida State. He was a tough running back. The toughest team I'd still have to give it to Troy State who we played last year. They really came ready to play and they played us very hard.

Talk about "the" hit in the title game?
Since it was in the open everyone was able to see it I guess. I've done that a couple times in high school. I also had a good one in the Penn State game this year. That is the first time I've hit someone and they've stayed down like that though.

How is school going?
Very good. I am a Finance major and currently have a 3.4 or 3.5 GPA. I start taking my major courses this fall. As a team I think we set a record for the highest GPA last semester. Overall we're doing well.

Compare coaches Coker and Davis?
They are different people and have different temperments but it was a smooth transition. We haven't had any adjustment issues to coach Coker.

Compare the intensity to a year ago
We are actually working our harder than a year ago. The coaches are pushing us harder than they were at this point last year.

Talk about your relationship with Frank Gore
We spend a lot of time together. We talk about everything, not just football. We are very open with each other and he is going to do some good things this year. He is working very hard and he knows that he can't just win off of talent alone. I've seen him grow up a lot in the past year. We'll continue spend a lot of time together over the summer.

Comments on the 2002 defense?
I think we're going to be better than we were this past year. We did some good things but we want to improve. We want to shut down the run better and if we were #2 in something we want to be #1 this year. I am real confident in the secondary that they'll step up and play ball. One thing we want to do is create more turnovers this year and get after people more.

Any games you're looking forward to in 2002?
I would say Tennessee and Florida just because I've never been there. Other than that we just prepare week to week for whoever we are playing.

What are you doing away from football?
If I have any time I love to play pool. I am a "poolaholic" and am always watching the ESPN pool games. I'll go and play pool for hours on end. I pretty much play with Santonio (Thomas) but we also get some guys together and play teams.

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