T-Mac Reflects on Senior Bowl Experience

USF star linebacker Tyrone McKenzie got invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl, and after a great week of practice, T-Mac had had a great game with seven tackles, the second highest tackle total of any player, and one pass break-up, and truly improved his stock. In this exclusive interview, find out what the Bulls LB has to say about the experience. Only on USFNation.com

Talk about your experience while at the Senior Bowl?

"It was a great experience. Getting the chance to go up and work with the Bengals coaching staff and other NFL coaches. It was really good just being up there with the best of the best athletes that play in college, and getting the opportunity to prove and show everyone that you're as good as any player out there."


After getting invited to both the Shrine and the Senior, why did you decide on the Senior Bowl?

"The senior bowl is a bigger bowl game, there's going to be more scouts there and you're coached by a NFL team. It's self explanatory."


What was the atmosphere like when you got out there?

"It was crazy. With all the fans out there trying to get autographs, and everybody trying to get involved, then going to practices and the schedule. It was a long crazy process the first day I got there, but I got used to it."


Were you nervous at all when you first got there?

"No not at all. I just went up there and did my thing. I've been playing football for my entire life, and I wasn't trying to over think things. I just go out there and play football, do the best that I can, and if it's meant to be, then it's meant to be."


After being through several college practices, how did the senior bowl week of practice differ?

"The practices were intense. It's an hour and a half, but its full go, every single moment. All through practice it's hard to even get water from the trainers, because it's so high paced. Everything is crunched into that small period, and they get a lot out of it. At USF we would practice for 2 hours to 2 hours and fifteen minutes on a rough day. In that hour and a half they put everything they could into it. It's very different then college, and going to the NFL, you'd expect it, and you just got to get used to it."


Did you see a lot of players you knew out there?

"Yeah, I saw a lot of Big Eat players and guys that I went up against from different conferences. There were guys that I trained with and worked with, players that I knew and a lot that I didn't know as well."


When you saw the Big East guys, did you talk about playing against each other?

"Of course any time you're around a bunch of guys that go against each other, you're going talk about when you played against each other and so forth. It was funny talking a little trash to them, and them talking trash in return. It was good."


Were you able to bond with any players while you were out there?

"Yeah, I got close with Andre Brown, who trains with me, so we were already close. Also Scott McKillop was a good guy to hang with while we were out there."


What coaches out there did you learn from the most while out there?

"That would be the linebacker coach, coach Fitzgerald. He had a lot of knowledge about the game, and is really passionate about it, and that really helped. They threw a lot at me and he seemed very impressed with how well I absorbed everything, and how I picked up the different defenses. I had a heck of a week of practice and it really helped my stock."


What did you want to accomplish when you went out there?

"I went up there to show that I'm one of the best linebackers in the draft this year. There were a lot of guys out there all playing the same game and I'm playing as good as anybody in the country. I went out there to show the scouts what I can do, and a lot of them were very impressed with my capabilities in coverage. I went out there a played good football and really helped myself out, it was a blessing."


In the game you had 7 tackles and a pass break-up, but how do you think you did?

"The game was good, but it's the practices that are really huge with all the scouts are there, and the game is just icing on the cake. In the game you're just going out really there for the fans. Some scouts will watch it and some won't. So we all just went out, let it fly, and had a good time."


During the game you were all over the field, were they lining you up in different positions?

"That's the key to my versatility. The ability to be able to play the different positions, and that's something the coaches picked up on as well all week. They realized it and so will the scouts."


Did you get to talk with a lot of scouts and coaches while out there?

"Basically all the teams were represented, and I talked with a bunch. But it's not really the time where you sit down with teams and discuss the draft. There basically just trying to get an idea about you, get to know you, and find out your story. I talked with a lot of people while I was there, and it was a great experience."


How do you feel you did while out there?

"I was very pleased with how I did. When I first got there I didn't know what to expect, but after all the feedback during the week, and my performance in that game. I feel very good about what I did, and I'm very happy that I got the opportunity to show my abilities.


What was your highlight from the whole week?

"It felt great just to go out there, but the highlight had to be the game. After a long week of practice and hard work, it felt good to go out there and have a good time in the game. It's something you'll always remember."


Do you think you accomplished everything that you wanted while you were there?

"Yes I do. I think I did what I had to, but I'm not stuck on that one part. There are plenty of other factors that come through and a whole lot of other stuff. Basically it's a long race to the finish line and right now I only have two chapters of it done, and I still have more to go."


Did you think after the season ended that you would be getting this opportunity?

"I really didn't think that far ahead during the season, and just took it one day at a time. Whatever blessings I may come upon, I'll deal with when they come."


Do you think your time at USF helped prepare you for the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine?

"There's no doubt that my time at USF has helped me. Coach Burnham is one of the best coaches that I ever had, and he really taught me a lot. Coach Leavitt was also a great coach who knows a lot about the game. It really helped me to get to the point that I'm at now. There are so many factors with the training to help you focus on things. To use your capabilities and things you've learned at the university at the net level, and that's what I'm trying to do now."


How has it helped that you've always been a consummate professional on the field, in practice, and in interviews?

"The coaching staff has always told us to consider ourselves a professional and to act like one, and the scouts and coaches realized that when we spoke. It's just how I am. It helps me stay goal oriented and push forward."


You've always been very big on conditioning, is there anything you want to improve on for the combine?

"I always felt that everything starts in the weight room, and I put the time in and try and get right. I want to improve on every aspect that I can. Not one item, but everything that I can."


How's your preparation for the NFL combine going for you?

"My training is going well. I'm training at one of the best facilities in the country in Georgia. I'm working hard and will try to do the best that I can when I get to the combine. I'm looking forward to it."


On another subject, have you been following USF's recruiting class this year?

"I've been hearing a little about it, and it's looking very good. Any player out there in the nation that wants to win a championship, and wants to a great university, will make a smart decision by going to USF."



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