It was another big night for Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State program as another of his top players heard his name called by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell.
Minnesota took cornerback Trae Waynes with the No. 11 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft giving Dantonio and the Spartans program back-to-back years a Spartans cornerback was selected in the first round.
Waynes joins former teammate Darqueze Dennard who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals a year ago (No. 24 overall 2014) as only the sixth group of cornerbacks out of a school selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in consecutive years.
Mark Dantonio who joined Waynes in Chicago for the draft released the following about the newest Viking.
“Trae Waynes is a tremendous football player, with great toughness and hitting ability,” Dantonio said. “Trae is a lock-down corner, who played an important role in our success the last two years. He’s an excellent press corner, who’s often been isolated against our opponent’s top wide receiver. He has great deep-ball judgment and the ability to tackle in space. Physically, Trae has length and great make-up speed. He has a lot of experience playing in big games and high-pressure situations. There’s no question that he’ll be an outstanding corner at the next level.”
Waynes becomes the 35-th former Spartan selected in the first round and second since Dantonio took over the program.
Schools with cornerbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in consecutive years
Michigan State: 2014 – Darqueze Dennard, 2015 – Trae Waynes
Alabama: 2012 – Dre Kirkpatrick, 2013 – Dee Millner
Notre Dame: 1993 – Tom Carter, 1994 – Jeff Burris
The following press conference transcript is from a Q&A with Waynes and has been provided by the NFL and Michigan State Athletics.
Q. What's it mean to you to be here?
TRAE WAYNES: I can't wait. Coach is a DB guru, and I'm really excited to see what type of player he can turn me into.
Q. When did you know you were getting drafted by the Vikings? .
TRAE WAYNES: When I got that call. When I got that phone call. I was talking to my agent at the time, and we were just talking, and we saw the phone ring from inside, and that's when we knew. .
Q. Are there any players that you're looking forward to going up against? .
TRAE WAYNES: I can't wait to go up against all of them. They're all really great players, and they're just going to elevate my game and make me a better player overall. .
TRAE WAYNES: I'm just going to let my play do the talking for me. I'm not going to make any predictions. I'm just going to let whatever happens happen. .
Q. Did you have meetings with them? .
TRAE WAYNES: Yeah, we had a couple meetings. They were actually my first visit and then of course mock drafts had me going there, but I never paid too much attention to it because anything can happen in the NFL Draft, and I just tried to keep an open mind. .
Q. Do you think they're a team that's on the rise? A lot of young talent there. .
TRAE WAYNES: Oh, of course. It's a building program, and they're a young team, and I can't wait to step in and make an impact. .
Q. What are the players that you know there? .
TRAE WAYNES: Well, actually the tight end, I know him because he's the same age as me, but other than that, I really don't know too many. .
Q. What did it mean to you to be the first defensive back picked? .
TRAE WAYNES: It was such an accomplishment. That's something I only dreamed about. Luckily I was able to have that experience. Like I said before, I owe a lot of that to the coaches.
Q. Your buddy Melvin was taken four picks after you. That's pretty unheard of, two guys from the same high school team being picked in the first round of the NFL Draft. How special is that? .
TRAE WAYNES: It's a great moment. He's a great kid. I was more happy for him than myself just to be able to see his dream come true, as well. I met him on stage and the first thing he told me was, it's time to get to work. You know, that's just the type of players we are, and I can't wait to get started. .
Q. Can your physical play translate into the NFL where there's going to be a lot more eyes? .
TRAE WAYNES: Yep. .
Q. Why will it be? .
TRAE WAYNES: I'm a competitor. I went against big receivers, too. I did okay. I adapted. I adjusted, and I'm going to go against anybody. That's my job, and I'm going to take care of it. .
Q. Do the Vikings make you feel like they're bringing in a man press corner? Do you get the impression .
TRAE WAYNES: Yeah, but they're probably going to mix it up, as well, and I've just got to be prepared for anything. .
Q. (Inaudible.) .
TRAE WAYNES: It's a pride thing. I know a lot of people underestimate the Big Ten, our conference, but we had three players go right now as I know, and we're a good conference, and we can compete with any conference out there. We're not the conference that everybody thinks we are. .
Q. What is your impression of Chicago, the city? What are you going to remember most about this weekend? .
TRAE WAYNES: I think Chicago did a great job with this. I'm really glad it was actually in Chicago this year because it enabled my family and friends to travel a lot easier than to New York. Chicago is almost like home because I'm like on the road, and I just love being here as a whole. .
Q. Describe the moment when you finally got the phone call. .
TRAE WAYNES: I didn't even believe it. I didn't believe it when it first happened. But getting that call, it finally allowed me to breathe for a little bit, just because it was a long couple hours, and like I said before, it's a dream come true being in the NFL, and I can't wait to get started. .
Q. Were you able to connect with Kevin White because now you've seen him twice? .
TRAE WAYNES: Yeah, that's my man. I'm so excited to go against him. He's a great player, and we're going to compete. He knows it just like I know it, and it should be fun. .
Q. Did you spend much time in Chicago as a kid? .
TRAE WAYNES: Yeah, my parents would take me and my brother up here fairly often, so I know the city pretty well. .
Q. Kenosha is only about 380 miles from Minneapolis. How is that going to help? .
TRAE WAYNES: It'll make it an easy drive for my parents. That's a plus. I'm just glad I'm going to go somewhere where it won't be too hard for them to get there. .
Dantonio quote provided by MSU athletics.