Q&A - Cort Dennison

With Washington's Pro Day coming up this Thursday, Dawgman.com wanted to catch up with former linebacker Cort Dennison to see what he's been up to since the Alamo Bowl. The senior linebacker has been hard at work training for Pro Day, but he's also been talking to a number of friends to get their perspective on what it's like to go from college into the ranks of being a professional athlete.

On life since the Alamo Bowl - "Right after the bowl game I came home for a couple of days, cleaned out my apartment, moved out and flew down to Las Vegas on January 4th, and I've been there ever since. I've been training with Mark Philippi of Philippi Sports Institute. He was in a world's strong man competition, really good guy. I worked with Alonzo Freeman, who is a strength and speed guy and is a part of their staff. It was a great experience for me. I trained with about five or six other guys all working for the combine stuff, and then I trained with people like Frank Mir and Jason Giambi. Al Harrington from the Nuggets came back last week for the All-Star break, and I trained with Troy Tulowitzki. So I was hanging out with some pro athletes and it was a lot of fun…great experience.

"I'd say the hardest part of the whole experience was the eating. Because I can lift and do all that stuff for days, but having to change your diet and really focusing on making the best of your body - that was the hardest thing. I had to drop fast food, red meat, just a lot of the junk things that college athletes eat. Every day pretty much I was eating the same things; for dinner I was eating Rice, chicken and vegetables - broccoli, spinach…that sort of thing. It was a lot of chicken, a lot of lean meats…stayed away from red meat."

On why he chose Philippi - "I signed with Cameron Foster, who had Nate Williams last year. He had Napoleon Kaufman and (Mark) Breuner, and he's done a lot of former (Huskies) …Lester Towns. So my connection (to Philippi) was through him. He used a couple of clients last year that worked out at Philippi Sports Institute, and they put up pretty good combine numbers for their pro days. I thought this is something I wanted to do and this would be a place that would work for me."

On if it was hard training in Vegas - "Yeah, but I realized that this is a dream that I've always wanted to fulfill, and the fun can wait. Obviously sometimes all you're doing is lifting and stuff and you can't go out, so things can get a little boring. That's when you just do extra pushups and sit-ups and get your mind off things."

On picking Cameron Foster as his agent - "The former Husky thing was huge, but with the way I looked at everything he was very personable. I could tell that he wasn't the type of agent where you're not just a number to him. He does care about you. I think he does very well in his marketing and how he gets you out there. I talked with one of his clients that signed with him last year - his name is Chris Prosinski, who played at Wyoming, and who didn't get invited to the combine but was a fourth-round draft pick…he just said that Cameron does a great job; he talks to everybody, he's going to be persistent and compete and get you what you deserve. If you are working hard for him by training hard and everything, he's going to work hard for you. I felt a really strong relationship with him and he was extremely respectful. He obviously has had some clients in the past who have done very well. I definitely trust him. He's a local guy and I think very highly of him. I trust him."

On being in Vegas this whole time - "Yup, been in Vegas. I went down to LA Friday night to see the Lakers play the Kings, and I said Hi to Isaiah (Thomas). He's doing good. He's staying real humble and hungry, and you can tell he's putting his work in and he's getting rewarded for everything. He's had a great year."

On seeing a peer like IT and how that motivates him further - "Isaiah was one of the kids who was always first to the gym with the basketball team and was always one of the last ones to leave. He just worked hard, and it shows what hard work can do. There can be plenty of people in the world, but if you out-work them and you do things the right way - there's always room for you. Isaiah is a great example of hard work and dedication and I'm extremely happy for him."

On any advice IT gave to him - "He just said to keep working. There's a spot for you if you keep working and do things right and keep your mind to it and stay focused and stay hungry. Anything's possible.

"Not only did I talk to him, but I've been talking with Mason (Foster) a lot and also with Austin (Sylvester). He was my roommate in college and he just signed another contract with the Broncos. He didn't think a lot of teams had a lot of interest in him, so he just did Pro Day last year and stayed in shape. He didn't have a huge resume of a college career, but he worked hard and stuck to everything and didn't give up. And look at him - he's already signed his second contract in the NFL."

On what he needed to work on at PSI in preparation for Pro Day - "I just wanted to get more comfortable with everything. I wanted to lose body fat and gain muscle, which I did. I wanted to get adept at all the agility drills. I wanted to become more flexible, which I did. Obviously I wanted to get stronger and faster, but that comes with the preparation that you do every day. We had set things every day; one day we'd work on a 10-yard (dash), the next day a 20-yard (dash), one day we'd work on a 5-10-5 (shuttle)…we'd spend at least an hour-and-a-half at each thing. I just wanted to get better at everything. There's always room to improve in everything and every aspect of your life. I think I got better in things, but I still want to get better at everything. I'm totally happy with the result."

On the physical results of his training - "At the Alamo Bowl, I was like 225 (pounds). I lost weight during the season; it's hard to gain weight during the year. Then I got there at 225, and I left at about 232-234. I can put on water weight. It was hot down there, so I got some color. I haven't cut my hair, so I have a little bit of an afro thing going on. It's a whole new me. I lost body fat and gained muscle, so it was a great experience. I think I was at about 18 percent (body fat) and now I'm at around 14 percent."

On they keys for him at Pro Day - "Just go out and compete. If you've been working on the times, Pro Day will take care of itself. I don't put as much emphasis on Pro Day as some people probably do, because I know how much right now film matters - and I have really good film. Film is huge. Somebody is going to pick you up; somebody is going to put you somewhere. Pro Day is a good grasp for teams to see what you can do athletically, but the main thing is what happens when you get to camp and how well you play football. Mason and Austin all told me that; do the best you can on Pro Day, but don't over-think it. Just go out, have fun, compete, and let everything take care of itself. You've already worked so hard for it and put work into it - you don't need to get too riled up about it. Just go have fun."

On having certain benchmarks in mind for Pro Day - "Yeah, I do. I want to hit anywhere between 23 and 25 (reps of 225) on the bench. I was run 4.7, so I want to get to 4.6's, which I think I can do because I was running on a slower track. I want to run 4.2 or 4.1 in the (20-yard) shuttle, and I want to run under (seven) seconds in the three-cone."

On input he's gotten from current and former UW coaches - "I've talked with coach Holt and coach Cox a couple of times. They said to keep doing what you're doing - it's worked before. Just keep plugging away like you always have. I didn't really even talk to them much about football; it was more about how their personal lives were. I hope the best for those guys; all the coaches are really good guys, are great coaches and are even better people. I wanted to see how they were doing with their lives and their families and how everything has been since I talked to them last."

On if he ever got a sense that something was going to go down after the Alamo Bowl - "No, I didn't. I'll let the coaches take care of that. I just had to get my mind right for my next step and I let all the coaches take care of themselves. I had no inkling toward anything. I look back and realize that I had a great career and that I'm extremely blessed and lucky to have met the people that I've met and played where I played and played against the people I played against. It was the best experience of my life and I wasn't going to take anything back and I wasn't going to dwell on anything. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to play here for five years. I then realized I had to move on and I had to look forward to the next step in my journey - which was training for Pro Day."

On if he's gotten a sense for how he's being looked at for the Draft? - "Yeah, I let my agent take care of that, but they are interested. We have to see what happens on Pro Day, but I'll start to learn more because they've been busy with the combine. They'll have Pro Days all through March that they have to go to, but I'll learn more when April hits and things start to settle down a little and it's not so chaotic. But yeah, there's interest.

"My agent knows more of that kind of stuff and I try to not get caught up in too much of that because I don't want to get unfocused. I let my agent do that; I trust him and I trust everything that's going on with him and the teams, so my job right now is to take care of what I can take care of - and that's Pro Day."

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