What player in the league is the toughest to tackle?
The toughest to tackle? I'm going to have to go with my man Tashard Choice. He was definitely the hardest to tackle last year. He ran the ball really tough, hard-nosed, fought for every yard. You really had to fight to bring him down. He ran the ball tough. I give him a lot of love.
How much responsibility do you guys feel to make Coach [Randy] Shannon successful?
I think a lot of players on the team want him to succeed. We are going to play for him and give our all for him because we want him to be a great coach. I definitely think he will be one of the best coaches in college football, period. I'm glad to be a part of that, a part of that legacy.
How excited are you to start practice?
When I tell other guys that I can't wait for two-a-days to start, they say, 'You mean you can't wait for the season to start?' I can't wait for two-a-days to start just to be on the field, put pads on. We have a lot to prove. People are counting us out. We can't wait to get on the field and show we are a really good team and can do some spectacular things. I can't wait to get on the field to play football. I am a very passionate guy--to get on the field is amazing.
Is it weird for you that Miami has something to prove?
It's not weird because it's been that way for a while, so it's not weird. We have something to prove. The older guys that played here before felt that same way--to prove that they can go out and do it year-in and year-out, to compete for a national championship every year, an undefeated year. Everybody has to have something to prove and be motivated enough to win a national championship.
Why didn't you turn pro when you had the chance?
I am very passionate about the University of Miami, the 'U.' I have loved it every since the first day I realized they were interested in me. I did research on them and fell in love with the place. My family is here. I bleed orange and green. I know the money will be there, the NFL will be there one day. If God wills it, hopefully I stay healthy and play in the NFL one day.
Right now I am enjoying my time in college football. I made some goals when I came here, and one of them was to win a championship, leave my mark here and break some records, get my degree, some things I didn't have. It was hard to go to the NFL so soon.
How important was it to get a head coach from within the family, from Miami?
That was really important having somebody who has played here before, who has been an assistant for a long time. He has been a coach on a national championship team. He knows. He was there while we were losing, so he sees why we were losing. He's not coming in here trying to change everything. He knows what we need to be able to win. I feel like he was able to develop a formula for what we need to do to win games. I definitely feel he was the right man for the job, by far, over any other person.
Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech Senior Running Back
Name one guy in this league, not on your team, who is the most exciting player in the league.
It has to be C.J. Spiller. I think he is the most exciting player not on my team. He is a track guy. He's one of the fastest guys on the field, and he has really good moves. He makes a lot of long runs. I think [fans] like to see him make people miss.
Some people compare him to Reggie Bush. Do you see that?
You can see it, but I don't think anybody is like Reggie Bush. He's fast, he makes moves, but he's not Reggie Bush. That's a different type of running back right there.
What kind of guy is Miami getting in Patrick Nix, offensive coordinator?
A guy that really loves the game of football, a guy who is passionate and loves to win. Coach Nix is a really good competitor and is one of the guys that brought me to Georgia Tech.
He recruited me for Georgia Tech when I transferred. Out of high school he recruited me really hard. When I went to Oklahoma he was one of the guys I talked to and help start me being for Georgia Tech. He's one of the guys I thank for being here.
How would you describe his philosophy as offensive coach?
Make plays and always put the defense in a bad position. He tries to make mismatches and have his best players in the best situation. He does that really well.
When he left Georgia Tech were you surprised he was the offensive coordinator at Miami?
Not really. Coaches come and go a lot. That's one thing you understand. I've been in college and my coaches left at Oklahoma and other coaches came in. It's come-and-go so it's a part of the game.
Do you think Miami has lost some respect? They finished 7-6 last year and they may not be ranking to begin this year. Is the fear factor gone?
No. Miami is, by far, the best defense I face every year. If you ask me, they have as much talent as anybody in the ACC. We play a lot of good teams, but when I play against Miami it is a different frame of mind. I don't care if they are 1-10, they still can beat anybody on any given day. They have my respect. They media may be saying that, but if you ask the players they don't feel that way.