Interview: DE Jerome McDougle
There was a lot more turnout this year than previous years. Coach Coker stayed on us right away, a week after the Rose Bowl we were in the grind. He said not to dwell on the National Championship, that was now in the past. This is a tradition rich school and we refuse to lose. The team and coaches stay on each other to make sure that doesn't happen.
What are your thoughts on being the defending champ, yet many media outlets have others as number one coming into 2002?
Everyone hates us because we win. We are very motivated this year to prove ourselves. A lot of people are talking trash about us. It is up to us to prove ourselves every game. We get no respect it seems. The way we look at it is that people don't respect us. We love that as it just makes us hungrier.
How are things progressing as a whole for the team in your opinion?
No one is being left behind, everyone is on the same page.
What are some things you personally have worked on to prepare for this season?
Power cleans is one thing. I need to get guys [offensive linemen] off of me faster. I also worked on my footwork, I need fast feet and explosion coming off the ball. This year when I hit people I want them to remember it.
How do you feel coming into the season physically?
I am better than last year, this is my last go around and I am at the best I've ever been. I'm 6-3, 265 right now and am at my personal best in the weight room, classroom, everything. I'm ready to go.
Talk about the defensive line this year
We have some young guys in the secondary and I think we need to carry the load up front until they get on the same page. I'm confident they will but we still need to do our think on the defensive line to be disruptive. We know we are a good defensive line. We're close as a group and I feel we're very good. If we are not the best one in the country, we're close.
Talk about the offensive line
Both Vernon [Carey] and Carlos [Joseph] have filled in great at offensive tackle. Vernon has done so much conditioning this off-season that it is hard to get past him. The line as a whole is very tough.
Are you on pace to graduate?
Yes, I'm a Criminology major and am scheduled to graduate in December.
What are your aspirations after college here at UM?
Obviously it is every kid's dream to play in the NFL. Right now I take things game by game and don't really worry about the NFL but that is certainly a goal of mine. My brother Stockar plays for the Detroit Lions and also Tyrone Carter for the Vikings. I just want to continue what Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, Russell Maryland, Derrick Ham and others have started. After the NFL, I've got plans to start a business with Stockar. I'm looking forward to that.
Coming from junior college, why Miami?
I chose Miami over FSU mainly because of the people. The coaches and players here were very loose and seemed to be having fun. Florida State was very business like. I just really liked it here. Rooming with Andrew [Williams] in junior college, I was there when Chuck Pagano and Pete Garcia would come or call and they would tease me about ‘getting me to Miami' and as it got closer I knew they were serious and here I am.
What have been some highlights for you personally while at Miami?
I think both the Boston College and Virginia Tech games last year were huge in my opinion. At Boston College we had a lot of composure, we're a family out there and showed it. To see us come together and get through a game like that was something. As for Virginia Tech, I think we showed a lot of control when we needed it.
What games are you most looking forward to this year?
The Swamp, FSU since it is a rivalry game, Tennessee, UConn. Basically any fresh teams that we haven't played before.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like basketball. A lot of us play basketball together and outside that maybe just some video games and sleep. That is about it.