Part 1 Question: JT Floyd has kind of answered some questions in the spring; what has he shown you since the spring and going into the fall that makes you believe, hey I've got a really solid cornerback going opposite of me?
Troy Woolfolk: "He just shows me a sense of calmness out there. I believe that everybody here at Michigan has the ability to play corner, but sometimes they get messed up by getting distracted and just flustered for being on the big stage in the Big Ten. Even though it was just seven on seven, he was just a calm player out there. Like he has experience that he has been there before. So that kind of relaxes me, I got a starting corner on the other side of the defense for me."
Question: Is it a clear cut, you and JT as the guys right now that are going into the fall as the suspected starters? Is Justin Turner coming on, is anybody showing it a little bit?
Troy Woolfolk: "I really don't think it is ever really a clear cut. I think there is always going to be a push. I don't even have my own position. I have to work back and get my starting position back. I think it is always going to be somebody within our own defense that allows us to work harder every day."
Question: Mike Martin missed the spring with a shoulder injury; has he just been itching to go and get out there? The defensive line, (Ryan) Van Bergen, Greg Banks, are they all veteran guys that are kind of taking some leadership roles?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think especially since the absence of Mike Martin, I feel that Ryan Van Bergen and Greg Banks have stepped up their role, to realize that if he goes down then they are going to have to be the two people to bring us back us. I can tell that Mike Martin wants to get out there because when he is out on the field, he is just looking at us the whole time wishing that he was out there with us as well."
Question: I got a chance to interview Greg (Banks) for the football preview that we did and he is a great story. He is a guy that, he said I'm not going to replace Brandon Graham, nobody is going to replace Brandon Graham. What do you see out of him just in terms of hey, this is a guy that hasn't been a starter but I think he is ready to?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think that he always had the potential to be a starter. In practice, I've seen signs of greatness in him; the only problem was that it wasn't consistent in the past. I think now that he feels that it is his time to step up and he is going to be able to step up his game and be the, not the next Brandon Graham more of a Greg Banks that we need for our defense."
Question: Cameron Gordon is another guy that we heard a ton about this spring. Greg Robinson just raved about him, has he continued to emerge as that person that you guys feel real good about and is Vlad Emilien kind of battling with him?
Troy Woolfolk: "It is anybody's race right now. The job is up for both of them, but I like them in different ways. Vlad seems to be picking up his game more, feel for how it is pertaining to the play and I just see the natural ability in Cam Gordon. I know it is going to be a little bit harder (for Cam) because he still has offensive concepts in his head. So when we bring him past that and get him to fully defensive thinking and play like that; he's going to be great."
Question: Does that give Vlad a little bit of an advantage because he is a little bit further along mentally right now?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah, I think it gives him a little bit of an advantage, but Cam Gordon makes up for that with his physicality, which kind of shocked me because he was a receiver. I don't really understand how he does that."
Question: Is he more physical than you?
Troy Woolfolk: "No (laughter). That's saying a lot."
Question: What has this summer been like for you? Obviously Donovan (Warren) moves on. Everybody kind of wonders is Troy Woolfolk going to be able to be the guy. Have you seen yourself mature and grow into this role that I am the #1 cornerback, especially in a young secondary that people are going to be looking at that?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah I kind of felt that pressure after Donovan left and I realized, I looked around and I was like, I'm the only experienced one here in the cornerback position. So I tried to take on that role and I try to fulfill it to the best of my ability. I think I did a pretty good job this spring and hopefully I can carry it out through the season."
Question: When people ask what kind of cornerback you are going to be. You look at yourself as Charles Woodson and he was a playmaking cornerback but also a shutdown. Marlin Jackson was a shutdown. You made some plays but, no one threw his way because there was no room to go anywhere. What type of cornerback are you?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think I'm going to be more of a physical…I don't want to compare myself to Charles Woodson in any form or fashion, but I think I'm going to be a combination of playmaker and shutdown, because I think I have the quickness and strength to do both. It is my physical nature that will allow me to succeed there."
Question: The freshmen that have come in…Rich said yesterday that he thought a couple of freshman might be able to play at safety. Was he talking about Marvin Robinson or was he talking about Carvin Johnson or Ray Vinopal or…?
Troy Woolfolk: "I actually have been looking at Marvin and he just seems that he has a natural knack for the ball and great ball awareness. I've seen him in seven on sevens. The first day he went out there he really did not know what the coverage was, but he was still making picks and of course, as I said he has great ball awareness. I think he might be able to make an instant impact on our defense."
Question: Is he competing at the spot that (Jordan) Kovacs is at or is he competing at the spot that Thomas Gordon is at?
Troy Woolfolk: "He's competing at the spot that…it is not really set in stone right now because the coaches haven't been out there. I think from his personality, I think it would be good to compete for the spot where Gordon is at."
Question: How about Josh Furman? He is another kid that last year we heard so much about. Has he been in there and is he as fast as they say he is?
Troy Woolfolk: "I haven't really seen too much of him, but I have seen he is good enough to identify what people have been saying. I think he may be able to live up to the hype."
Question: The cornerbacks too, obviously, you got a couple of returning guys but you need some depth there. Cullen Christian, (Terrence) Talbott, Avery (Courtney), has any of those guys impressed you?
Troy Woolfolk: "I haven't really seen too much of them right now. I'm not sure if they are here or if they just haven't been coming out to the seven on sevens. I have not really seen much of them. I think that we will have…we just really need at least one or two more to step up, but I think that will happen in camp through repetitions and see hopefully by me setting a good example of what and what not to do on the field."
Question: I talked to Obi (Ezeh) and Jonas (Mouton) in the spring, both guys obviously fifth year seniors. The linebacking corps, how much better do you see those guys being and what has the competition like, because Greg Robinson says that Kenny Demens is right there, really pushing right now, probably as close as he has ever been and Mike Jones is really coming on too.
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah I think Kenny Demens and Mike Jones, they actually made me comfortable in case Jonas or Obi go down because they are great second team players, anywhere else would probably be first team. I think that since we have two fifth year seniors in our linebacking corps. I'm not really sure what happened last year but this year I think they are going to be great linebackers and I think that could be one of the strongest parts of our defense."
Question: Looking at it, Greg said that one of the things with Jonas and Obi is that they just have to not play others people positions and just do their own. How much of that have you seen and maybe in yourself too that I only need to do what I need to do, as opposed to do other peoples jobs?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah that's exactly what I think. I actually have a different philosophy in the whole team game. I think you actually have to be a selfish player out there. You only get in trouble when like you said when you try to do someone else's job. If everybody does their own job, the team will be good. I have a different concept of a team and that's a prime example right there."
Question: A big surprise last year was Craig Roh starting as a true freshman. You remember being a true freshman, could you have done what he did a year ago?
Troy Woolfolk: "I don't want to use that word, but he had courage going on there and doing that. I think that if I had the opportunity, I would want to. I wouldn't shy away from it, but unfortunately, I wasn't good enough my first season."
Question: How much bigger, stronger and more prepared is he for this season?
Troy Woolfolk: "Oh he has really been working out. I can tell. He has got double the strength. He also had a little small injury and he went home and got that fixed. So he is perfect now. He's faster than I've ever seen him before, stronger. I can't wait to see him on the field this year."
Question: Is there anybody else on the defense that we haven't talked about, hey someone to keep an eye on?
Troy Woolfolk: "A couple of the D-line and a couple of the linebackers. Another one, you already know about Kovacs. But the other one that might come out this year is Mike Williams. I think this might be his years that he blossoms out there. He has been playing, but I do not want to see rocky, but just up and down. But he has been looking real good in practice and I think he has found his position and is about to pitch in."
Question: Offensively real quick, the competition everybody wants to know is the quarterbacks. Clearly, Denard (Robinson) had moved ahead Tate (Forcier) in the spring. Going into seven on sevens, is he is still taking those strides, is he still a step ahead or where do you see him?
Troy Woolfolk: "Even though you say that he has move ahead and our coach might say that, but I think Tate has the ability to come back. I think it is going to be an ongoing horserace between both of them. Don't forget about Devin Gardner, he has been out there looking good too as well. I personally wouldn't mind if they all played, because I just think that would be harder to think of a defensive scheme for all three of them. I encourage all of them to get better and to help out the offensive."
Question: Obviously Daryl Stonum is a friend of yours, coming from Texas. Looking the receive position in seven on sevens, who gives you the best one on one ever day?
Troy Woolfolk: "I honestly love going against…I call him Little Man Tay. Because I think he is just so low to ground and he has quick feet and he knows that game. He knows when to pull up if you're off. He knows when to go deep if you are pressing. He is just good at the game of football."
Question: Talk about the defense, going into next year what kind of expectations do you guys have on the defense as a group? What are you looking for out of this unit going into next year?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think our defense will improve tremendously. One of the main reasons is because we change it up a little bit. Some of the problems in the past is that we would stop people, but then we wouldn't be a full game defense and one those problems is that we don't pay attention to detail. We just try to think of the big scheme of the defense and not pay attention to detail. One of the reasons is because the defense may have been too complicated for the younger people because we have a lot of young people on the field. To get rid of that problem, we simplified the defense to incorporate the younger athletes as well so that they will be able to rely less on thinking during the play and just being able to react because it is such an easy defense."
Question: You talked about it in the past missed assignments, does this really help with that so you guys are in the right place at the right time?
Troy Woolfolk: "Exactly."
Question: You talked about the quarterback play. Can you talk about the running back competition a little bit and talk about those guys back there?
Troy Woolfolk: "We have great running backs and between Mike Cox, Mike Shaw and Vincent (Smith). I haven't really seen too much of Vincent lately because he had the little knee surgery but now he is back and he has been out there running around and he is looking back to full speed. One of the good things about Mike Cox is that his legs are just so strong. He is a hard running back to bring down. Mike Shaw, he goes hard every play. He may not have the size, but he'll still try to bring the punch. I would like to have, like I said about the quarterbacks, all three of them out there because they both have their different abilities to bring to the table."
Question: Talk about JT Floyd opposite of you. How have you seen him develop and where is he at going into next year?
Troy Woolfolk: "He actually reminds me of Morgan Trent just the way how he seems so calm about things. When you are calm, it allows the game to slow down for you and then you're able to actually make plays. It may be a result of the new simplified defense because you don't have to worry about the actual scheme of things but just going there and reacting basically and he just seems get it and he has been making a lot more plays and I cannot wait to see him during the season.
Question: Talk about the safeties. You got Cam Gordon back here, Jordan Kovacs. How has Cam looked? Obviously, Rich Rod talked about him a lot in the spring.
Troy Woolfolk: "I think Cam is surprisingly, he is very physical, which is very different than a typical converted offense to defense player. He is out there making big hits and big plays. The only thing that I worry about is him understanding the various schemes of the defense. Because he just doesn't get the defensive ways because he has been offense all his life. I think once he gets that, he is going to be a phenomenal player."
Question: Talk about yourself, are you ready going into your senior year to be that shutdown guy for Michigan at the cornerback position, a leader of the defense?
Troy Woolfolk: "I am just more excited and that allows me to, as I also obtained a sense of calmness out there and I think that just is the most important thing – calmness and confidence out there. Once you have those two it is intertwined and you will be able to be the best player and one of the best in the….and like I said having the confidence. I feel like I can shut down any receiver and I just cannot wait for the season to start so I can prove that to everybody else."
Question: Do you feel that you guys haven't had that in the last couple of years, the calmness, the comfortableness, you guys didn't know what you were doing?
Troy Woolfolk: "Like I said, we had a lot of young players out there that weren't really sure or stuff and I think by simplifying the defense, it allowed us to rid the defense of one of those two problems, but I think we need to start winning some games to get that confidence back."
Question: Is it disappointing knowing that you could have had Donovan playing on the other side and maybe you guys would have been one of the better tandems in the league?
Troy Woolfolk: "It is not really disappointing, but I would rather…I wouldn't say rather, but it would have been nice to have him. But I am also confident with JT and I still think that we can obtain one of the cornerback tandems in the league."
Question: Do you talk to Donovan at all? How he is doing? Obviously, it was probably a tough day back in April for him when he didn't get drafted, but are things going okay?
Troy Woolfolk: "He's doing good. I actually talked to him the other day. We send each random mean texts because we just funny like that."
Question: Mean texts?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah. It is really joking, but I sent him a text talking trash about California and the sent me a text talking trash about Texas. He's doing good. He is up there with the Jets right now. I wish the best for him in the future."
Question: There is a question about Stevie Brown being so instrumental in the defense last year, a lot of outside observers really considered him one of the best players on the defense. Now it looks like Mike Williams is going to move from the safety position into Stevie Brown's position and Thomas Gordon too. Talk about Mike Williams' development. He came in a very heralded recruit and this year sounds like it is going to be his breakout year.
Troy Woolfolk: "Like I said earlier, I think Mike Williams, this is going to be his breakout year because he just has the physicality, smartness and the speed to fill the shoes that Stevie had. I think his new position may fit him perfect. Just looking at the way he played in seven on sevens, he has made a lot of plays when he is out there and I just cannot wait to see him because I think he is going to be phenomenal player."
Question: When you're back there playing defense and you're playing against the Michigan offense, who is the toughest person to bring down? I don't want to give you any bulletin board stuff for the offense, but who is the guy that you look and say oh boy?
Troy Woolfolk: "I would have to say Mike Cox and it is not because he is going to run you over. His legs are ridiculously strong. He squats over 500. I have seen Mike Martin on his back, who is one of the strongest players on the team, Mike Martin on his back trying to get him down. He just couldn't and Mike was running with him an extra five yards. I cannot wait to see defenders try and get him down. I'm just going to be laughing on the sideline."
Question: When you look at some of the guys that are new to the defense, some of the redshirt freshmen, some of the sophomores, who is someone who isn't necessarily going to stat this year but is going to make a huge difference?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think Marvin because he seems to just have a natural ability for the game. I have seen him seven on sevens and he might not necessarily know the plays, but he is still out there and making plays on the ball and he just has great ball awareness. One of the things that I have seen for him that is really going to allow him to fulfill is that he listens. He is not naïve enough to think that he knows the whole game by himself. When he makes a mistake, I coach him up and he listens and he never makes that mistake again. So I just think he'll be able to blossom because he has the ability to listen and I can't wait to see him play."
Question: I know when we spoke last year, the fastest guy on the team, have you guys done it yet? I mean Vincent Smith is healthy now.
Troy Woolfolk: "I don't know. Sometime before the season. This is what I'm going to do. We're going to it the last day of camp, I'm going to try and get all the quarterbacks and I am going to race him. How long should it be 40 yards?"
Question: Can I race against you?
Troy Woolfolk: "We can do it. I do not think you want to (laughter). He is a great competitor out there and hopefully he can carry that speed onto the field to make a lot more plays."
Question: Marvin is playing mostly as a safety or in that Stevie Brown role? I know it is not your call.
Troy Woolfolk: "Personally if I was the coach, I would put him more at free safety because he just seems like natural back there and he just seems calm like that is his position. He has great ball awareness and one of the most important thing is at the snap of the ball when you are the deep free safety is backpedaling. That's the first thing that he does every time. Sometimes the free safety gets tied up trying to get nosy looking for the run and then get beat deep. I looked at him every rep and his first step is back, so that is kind of a comfort for me and I would like to have him back there."
Question: Now you know every position back there pretty much and what they should be doing. Is that kind of cool? Especially now in the summer where there is not that coaching going on, where you can say hey I played this position and I played this position and this is what you need to be doing?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think it allows me to be more of a leader in the defense, in the DBs because I know multiple positions, which allows me…if I see something that one of the safeties are doing wrong, which also helps because you have a lot of young safeties. So I feel that I can help out the young corners and the young safeties at the same time, which will allow me to be more of defensive leader."
Question: Does that help you understand what you're doing on a given play, knowing what the other guys are doing too, to kind of give you a better understanding overall of the defense or is that something that doesn't really…?
Troy Woolfolk: "I really think that helps me more when I switched back to corner, because one of the things when playing corner is knowing where your help is, which allows you to play different leverages. In the past, I did not really know where my help was, so in the areas where my help wasn't, I wouldn't shift to an alignment to prevent me from being exposed and them completing a pass. I remember Iowa game was the first game I came back to corner. I feel like that was one of my best games because I had a full understanding of the full defense in knowing when I should press somebody or if I am out there by myself on an island."
Question: Did you set personal goals for yourself this year in terms of tackles? Are there things that you as an individual player on top of the team goals that you set for yourself this year?
Troy Woolfolk: "I tend to not try to set too many goals for myself in the aspect…for example, I want to get so and so many interceptions this year. Because if I'm locking receivers down then the quarterbacks don't really want to throw my way, so that is kind of twisted and unbiased goal. I have set goals, very, vague goals of not getting beat deep, of being able to make all open field tackles and just get good game film, so I could possible play at the next level."
Question: Speaking of the next level, have you talked with some of the other Michigan alumni? I know you talked with Donovan Warren, have you talked to them about ways to make yourself a better cornerback and have the alumni been good about coming back and talking to you guys?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah they actually have. They have recently been coming back a lot to lift as well because everybody loves the Mike Barwis program. They come back and lift and I just feel like they have given me some information about who I shouldn't talk to and informing about the rules, like don't accept nothing from no agent and stuff like that. And basically where they have trained and hopefully I can possible train there like in Arizona."
Question: Is corner your position now? Do you like that opposed to safety?
Troy Woolfolk: "I honestly do not care, but the only thing that is an advantage at corner is that it is much easier to tackle people. Receivers are way easier to tackle than big running backs. It just seems easier at corner. I would really would enjoy both safety or corner, it just depends on where the coach wants me too. But saying that, I would rather be at one position versus last year, switching. Even though I may seem like I am versatile, I would just like to stay at one position so I can excel at that position."
Question: Did your offseason training change when you're at corner as opposed to safety? Do you lift differently? Obviously, you are working on different fundamentals.
Troy Woolfolk: "I actually put more emphasis on lifting when I was safety to get bigger, but now that I'm at corner and I'm not going to really be going against running backs and fullbacks now, I'll put more emphasis on my speed so that I can run with all the receivers. That's the only difference in my training so far since I have switched back to corner."
Question: You said that you bounced around last year, is staying at one position something that is going to make it easier to develop strictly as a cornerback and being an exceptional cornerback instead of having to switch to safety and switch to corner and try to change your mind frame at all?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah like I said, I think it kind of hurt me a little bit when I was switching from corner back to safety, because as safety you have a whole different mindset. At safety, the emphasis is on the whole field versus one player. At corner, you are basically trying to cover one individual so I would kind of get the different concepts mixed up sometimes when I would go to each other position. Now that I'm back at corner I can just focus on that and excel in that position."
Question: You switched to safety last year against Notre Dame and then you had a career high eight tackles, can you talk a little bit about that.
Troy Woolfolk: "I think that was an exciting game for me and I actually felt comfortable at safety and I feel like that was one of the better games that I actually prepared for the most. They just kept trying to run my way and I would just keep on making the plays. Like I said, I enjoy both positions, but I would just rather stick at one position versus them changing."
Question: So you prepared more because of the tradition of the game or what?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah. You tend to actually prepare more for rivalry games like Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, that's the big games that is going to be on TV and stuff. I kind of feel bad for myself about that because I should actually take each game and prepare for them the same."
Question: When you talk about safeties, one of the real surprises last year was Jordan Kovacs; you guys have seen him before on the practice field and things like that. But a lot of fans and the media, we had no idea who he was. Has he surprised you as well or did you guys say that this guy is going to make plays regardless?
Troy Woolfolk: "He actually was a surprise to everybody and I think even to himself. In practice, he was a solid safety, but he wasn't a safety that was out there making plays. I remember Mike Williams went down in the Notre Dame game cramping and we were on top and I just instantly had a chill go down my body, I did not really want anybody to come in. When he actually came into the game, there was something different about him. He just seemed more calm. Like I said one of the two factors of being a good player is calmness and confidence, and he just seemed to have the confidence. I was like just confused, where is he getting his confidence from. Then he started making plays and I was just like, who is this player (laughter). It is like he rises to the occasion with the more pressure that comes onto him. He did the same thing at Michigan State game and I can't wait to see him next year."
Question: Do you really think he helped shore up that run defense? He was one of those guys, I think he is third on the team in tackles overall despite not playing a good chunk at the start of the year.
Troy Woolfolk: "Exactly, the Michigan State game, he had like 17 tackles that game and he is just a great run stopper. He has a good knack for breaking up the blocking and getting to the ball."
Question: One of the big questions about Michigan coming into this year is how is the run defense going to hold up with the loss of Brandon Graham. That is the standard question that you have been asked. I know there are a lot of good players there, but what are you guys doing differently this year to prepare to stop those big backs like John Clay?
Troy Woolfolk: "We have a good D-line this year, a nice sized D-line to help plug up holes. You got Ryan Van Bergen, Mike Martin and Greg Banks who are all exceptionally big D-lineman. I think with the help of our two experienced senior linebackers, Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh that is going to be a great combination to help stop the run."
Question: Have you seen anything in the spring or in workouts out of Obi that this is finally his year? We've seen him progress a little bit each year and then we haven't maybe gotten as much when the lights are on. Is there anything that makes you confident that that is going to be this year?
Troy Woolfolk: "Shockingly it's weird. Obi and Jonas, I'm not sure if they are on something…I'm just joking (laughter), but the way that their bodies have changed, they have actually gotten bigger but at the same time, they have been faster than they were when they were much lighter. I don't really know how they did that, but I just cannot wait to see when they come out there on the field. I see them when they are playing on the field, when they throw deep balls, they are right there with some of the receivers. I can't wait to see them out there. I think this might be the year that they just look like supreme athletes out there. I think that this is the year that they finally understand the defense."
Question: Has there been a change in their attitude since Greg Robinson took over as their coach?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think naturally that is just always how it would be with the new coach, because you build an alliance with a coach when they leave. You just build that alliance great because he has to build it up again. I think we are all bought in and all in for Greg Robinson. We believe in him. I think everybody will have a ______ and try to win this year."
Question: What is it about Greg that makes you guys buy in and go all in?
Troy Woolfolk: "Personally for me, I just know him and I believe in him because he has played at a higher level before. He has been a coach in the NFL before and it just makes me believe what he has to say because he came back to us little people, at the college level to try and coach."
Question: Being a senior this year, do you feel like you got more to make up with the two years that was kind of rough on you guys?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think that allows, I do not want to say the pressure is on us, but I think that is just our time to finally get back to the old Michigan. I think a that most people have probably given up on us that they have to wait five more years to get back, but I think that this is the year that we can do that."
Question: The Notre Dame versus Michigan game last year, it was back and forth, back and forth all game long. It is your second game this year?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yes it is."
Question: Is that not enough time to prepare for it?
Troy Woolfolk: "I think it is enough time. All I need is about a week for every other game. I cannot wait to play them because I know that they are going to try to come at us with the full potential especially since it was a close game last year and they probably still think about that in the back of their head. So I know we got to bring our A game out there if we want to try and repeat what we did last year."
Question: Did your dad ever talk to you about that tradition or that big rivalry? Did he ever give you any advice about that?
Troy Woolfolk: "My dad, he is a weird person. I did not know about his football success until I graduated from high school and came here and everybody started telling me, because the year I was born, he retired (from) football and I was never introduced to the whole football world and I didn't really know about it. Like I said, once I came up here and I saw his pictures everywhere and everybody calls me Butch's son, like I don't have a name (laughter) and I just see film and stuff. To answer your question, no he didn't really inform me about nothing."
Question: Did he ever give you a little jab in the ribs and say I would have it done this way?
Troy Woolfolk: "Yeah he is a very cocky man (laughter) and he believes that he can play any position. So he thinks he can play my position right now better than me."
Full Transcript: Troy Woolfolk, Part 1
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