Tell me about some of the qualities your teammate [defensive end, Calais Campbell] has.
He's full of energy and life, he's a real leader on the team, and he never quits. He has a lot of heart.
He's 6-8, has long arm--what does that…?
Oh, he's a physical specimen. He's 6-8, 270 or 280, he's fast, strong. He looks skinny, but he takes that shirt off and he's pretty jacked. He can turn a speed rush into a power [rush] like that. (Snapping fingers.) That's what makes him so special.
When did you first notice him because he came in as a 6-8, 220-pound string bean, right?
Yeah. Even then though, when he came a few years ago and he was on scout team--he was just tearing it up on scout team against the first-string offense. We knew then, 'This guy is for real.'
That's what makes him special--a lot of guys on scout team are like, 'I'm not going to play this year' and might not practice as hard. That guy right there--he played every down on scout team like he was playing in a game. It paid off and he is reaping the benefits right now.
He left a lot of money on the table this year when [in the NFL Draft] because certainly he was a first round pick. What does that say? He could be a millionaire right now.
Hmmm? I didn't know that.
What else can I say about him? That's the reason why he could have been [drafted this year]. As far as him coming back, obviously he wants to win a championship. Any time you talk to him it is all about winning championships with him. Those are the type guys you want on your team, the guys you want to play with.
How personal did you guys take not being a factor in the national title picture last year? When you come to Miami you figure you are going to be there.
It's been tough, especially getting recruited out of high school--that's the reason I came to Miami. The only ring I got was my first year, and I didn't even play so it is really frustrating. This is the last go-'round--do everything it takes. I don't want to be known as the era when Miami was bad. We are going to turn it around this year.
Do you think the conference itself has something to prove after what was a down year in the ACC last year?
I don't know about that. I think every school in the ACC is an awesome, tough team. Anybody can beat anybody. Every game is a battle. You can't look at your schedule and think you are playing some school that is going to be a blow[out]. It's tough mentally and physically, week-in and week-out trying to play these teams.
Chris Long, Senior Virginia Defensive End
Does your father get involved?
He's always there to help me out. If I need help, he's the first person I go to outside of the football office.
If you [make a mistake] do you give him carte blanche to let you know?
He will definitely be very honest with me. I appreciate that more than anything about him. I'll always get honesty from him when I might not get honesty from other places. I've improved a lot by relying on that. He's definitely been helpful.
Can you speak to the balance you have with your father the Hall-of-Famer and your father, the father?
He's very conscious of the situation and growing up it is not always easy with that going on. Now that I'm in a situation where I can maybe, at least a little bit make a name for myself, it's a very comfortable relationship where I've learned a lot from him. He can still help me every day.
Have either of you ever been conflicted about him helping you but not getting in the way of the coaching staff at UVa?
Nah, I think my dad is one of the most respectful people in the world so that is never an issue at all. He has a great relationship with Coach Groh and all the guys down there. He definitely will take a step back. That's why his whole policy is 'Come to me if you want help. I'm not going to interject or be a burden.'
There was a time when they had bigger guys at defensive end. You talked about dropping down to 275. It seems maybe they are looking more for quickness and athleticism than just shear size?
I've been fortunate enough to have progressed well enough that now I can play the run just as well as I can rush the passer. That is something where you have to be complete in a 3-4 as a player. I've been lucky enough to have [Jeffrey Fitzgerald] on the other side. So you don't have to give up quickness for size or vice versa. You don't have to give up power to have speed. Look at 'Fitz.' It's about having the right guys.
Return tomorrow for more interviews with opposing players.