Mike Patterson: Exit Interview

WeAreSC continues a series of interviews conducted with Trojan seniors. In this edition we feature Mike Patterson.

Mike, first we at WeAreSC would like to congratulate you on winning the Orange Bowl and the National Championship this past season.

Thank you very much, my man.

Looking back on this past season and where the program was your freshman year, what does it mean to you to end your college career on such a high note?

I mean, it's really great. This is every guy's dream to come into college and win a National Championship and everything. To come out here and win two of them, it feels real good. I had good teammates, good coaches. Just overall, it's just really good.

When you were growing up, who did you look up to in the NFL? Even if it was not a Defensive tackle at the time.

At the time, living in Sacramento, I really wasn't too much into sports. I always used to watch the Niners – watching Jerry Rice, Steve Young, and all those guys, just great, tremendous, ballplayers. So I guess the closest thing was either them or just watching Michael Jordan [in the NBA] half the time too.

Did you think that you would be playing defense or were you playing quarterback when you were running around as a little kid?

Actually, it's weird. When I was a kid, I wasn't really into sports. I didn't really play anything or do anything in those terms. You know, I was just a kid and I would just like to sit at home and watch cartoons, do crazy things like that. I just wasn't into sports too much when I was younger.

Did you play any other positions in high school?

Yeah, actually I played Offensive Line. And my first two years, my freshman and sophomore years, for the offensive line. Then, I got into wrestling and my coach moved me to D-Line after wrestling.

What other schools were in your top 3 when you were being recruited and what made you choose USC over them?

My top three schools were of course, USC, Oregon, and Colorado State. For the most part, I just went to Colorado State to see how it was out of town. I know it probably wasn't the biggest school to pick to go out of town, but I just liked the program they had over there. They were known to win division titles and everything. Oregon, just sticking with the Pac-10 and at the time I really liked Oregon. I liked the coaching staff and everything and they just were great. And SC, you know, it's close to home, just money plus. Just a great school, great facilities and everything. I could do a lot more here than I could have at those other two schools.

When players are being recruited, a well known tactic is that a lot of programs like to say that a player will become "the next Deion Sanders, next Ronnie Lott, etc." How does it feel to know that future Defensive Tackles at USC will likely hope to become The Next Mike Patterson?

[Laughs] Man, I never thought of it that way, you know? Personally, I don't feel like I was the biggest thing or whatever. People say it and stuff, but I just think of it as an honor just for the fact that a lot of people started giving recognition to me. And I was able to play on a good defense. It wasn't just me; I had great teammates to help me out and great coaches. But at the same time, I take it as an honor for the opportunity and everything. I just feel great about it.

You shared the line with Shaun Cody your whole time at USC, what was it like to share the spotlight, especially this year and did you ever feel overshadowed by the publicity he received from the press?

Actually, no. With me, I'm not really a big press guy. I really didn't mind Shaun going out there and the press giving him all the love and everything. I didn't really mind that. But I never felt overshadowed by him. He's a great guy. We knew, between each other, what we both could accomplish and we were both great players and I just felt great playing with him. I've been here for four years, I started with him and to leave with him is really awesome to have a great teammate like that. Not too many people have a buddy on the line like that.

Speaking of close friends who ended up being your closest friends on the team, past or present?

It's hard to say. You know, I have a lot of good friends on the team. I hang out with a bunch of people. Lajuan [Ramsey], Travis Watkins, there's just a lot of people. I hang out with Shaun, because we came in together and we left together.

You were a model of consistency, in practice, during conditioning, and games, what kept Mike Patterson moving with that same intensity everyday?

It's just going out there to accomplish a dream. It's going out there and playing your hardest, showing everybody what you can do. You're going out there and you just want to be yourself. That's the reason I got into football, just for the fact that I felt like this was for me and that I could be myself by playing this game. It's going out there and just doing what you know best.

Who was the toughest guy to go up against during pass rush drills while you were at USC?

Oh man, it's a lot of guys…A lot of people…Not necessarily just one person, but the last two years, last year even, I would have to say Ryan Kalil first. He is just a great Center. He made it real tough and he really helped me get better, as in getting faster. And he has real great hands off the snap and I really like his whole blocking scheme. And he's just a wonderful athlete and a wonderful player there. But there are just a lot of people, you know? John Drake and all them, Fred [Matua]… you got Jake Rogers, just a lot of people you go up against being here, but I would have to say Ryan because I saw him the most and felt like he was a really great blocker and great Offensive Lineman.

You and Shaun Cody in a footrace, 100 yards, who wins?

Of course I'd win. *Laughs*

Ok, let's say you had to make a 4 x 100m relay of only O-Linemen and D-Lineman, who would you choose?

I'd have to say myself, Shaun [Cody], Jeff [Schweiger], I mean I have to put some fast guys on here, you know? Let's see…who else is fast…I'd say Lawrence [Jackson]. He's a good athlete and we could get fast guys in there.

All D-Line guys, huh?

Yeah [Laughs]

How did Coach Orgeron change the way you looked at the game of football and is there anything you'd like to say to him?

First of all, I think Coach O and Ole Miss that's a just a great opportunity for him. And I'm really glad for him and the opportunity that he got. It's one of the things that he really wanted to do and he just went out there and grabbed it. I just think he's going to do a good job overall. And I heard he got some good recruits coming in this year so he's going to go out there and do his thing. Coach O here, four years of being with him here, he helped us a lot. He helped us as a D-Line and helped our mentality to play as Defensive Linemen a whole lot. He created a lot of things for us. Basically, he showed us the door and we had to walk through it. He made sure that we were watching film, made sure that we did things right, and he was just making sure that we got the message that he was trying to send. He's just a great coach overall. He knows how to teach technique. You go out there and he would work with you day in and day out if he needed to. He's just a wonderful coach who helps you out to become a better player.

What does the idea of the Trojan Family mean to you on the team, in general and with the fans?

It's everything. The Trojan Family as in the team, it's going out and playing with guys that you're comfortable with. It's going out there and doing your job and knowing that the man next to you will do his job. With the fans, it's going out there and having them show love for us and just having fun with this whole experience.

Take us into the mind of Mike Patterson before a play, what goes through your mind when you get into your stance and what is being said on the line between you and the other team's Offensive Line?

[Laughs] Before a play, the first thing that comes in my mind is the "Big Eye in the Sky." I don't know if you guys know what that means, but it has to do with the camera. The camera is watching what you do…I usually get the butterflies when it's the first snap of the game. It takes a while to get comfortable basically. It's full confidence, you need to go out there and do your job, knowing that you're going to have a great game. You're going to go out there and make plays and go out there and play with these guys and give it all that you've got to help your teammates. As in the opposing Offensive Line, you know I'm not a real dirty player or anything. I don't try and say anything or try and trash talk and all that stuff, that's not my style. But if they did something good every once in a while I'll say "Oh Ok!" I give them their props and everything, but not too much. If someone goes in there and talks mess, I'm going to show something back, you know? I'm not going to sit there and be like a punk in that situation.

What was the most satisfying moment of your career?

It's winning two National Championships. It's being able to come out here and be part of a great team that will go down in history.

What are your hobbies outside of the field?

Playing Halo.

What are you up to nowadays? How are you preparing for the draft?

Right now, I'm working out down at the Home Depot Center in Carson,California. Just going out there and working out everyday. Just trying to get my body right and get my mind right. Just going out there to work out and getting ready for this Combine. There's nothing new that we've done here as in working out and stuff, but I've just been going out there to prepare and going out there to work even harder.

Can you believe how this has turned out after your four years at USC that you're now just preparing for the NFL draft? Is this how you pictured it all to be?

You know what? It is. When you first come in, you don't know how it's going to be…You just want to be the best, you want to be an All-American, you want to win a National Championship, you're just hoping. You have the image of things going good, but you never know how it is, until it really is. These four years have been more than perfect, two championships and being able to play on a great D-Line, and having great coaches, overall the experience was great. I am just proud to be a part of all this.

What advice do you have for the incoming Freshman?

You know, just keep your head up. It's going to be tough and things, but just go out there and work hard. Everything is about competition. If you go out there and fight and work hard to get what you want and know what you need to do, things will happen.

Summarize in one word, the past 4 years of your life with USC Football.

It's been a roller coaster ride, I guess…There were times we went up and there were times that we went down. It's been a thrill…I guess that's all that I can say, It's been a thrill.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Mike Patterson fans, USC Football fans, or anybody else who supported you along the way?

Just to everybody, this whole thing has been nice. I'm just going to be proud to see the Trojans in the future and you better watch out, I'm going to come back with something for the Trojans [Laughs].

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