Before They Were Pros: Cedric Benson

Before the Bears drafted Cedric Benson, he was a Texas running back fielding questions from reporters at the combine. See what Benson had to say about his pro prospects before he knew where he was going, and about his life in college and his expectations.

Benson on what it would mean to be the first player chosen:
"I guess it would mean a lot to go No. 1 (overall). It would mean all the hard work you've done paid off. It says a lot about you personally. Ego boosters and things like that."

On being the best running back in the draft:
"(Long pause) I think what I've done on the field speaks for itself. There's a lot of great backs coming out. I can't just say I'm the best back coming out this year."

On being ready to address off-the-field problems:
"Absolutely. I'll just tell them exactly what they want to know and exactly what happened. I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of or anything like that."

On Ricky Williams comparisons:
"Our relationship wasn't as strong as people might think it was. I really only met Ricky twice, and we hung out about once. We got to know each other fairly well but prior to that and after that, he's a busy guy and I'm busy myself. We didn't spend much time on the phone or sharing things or anything like that. I look up to the guy as a player on the field and I admire the things he did on the field."

On how he differs from Williams:
"I don't know. I don't know Rickey's personality that well. Who does know his personality that well (laughter)? We are different. He was real shy when he came out, kind of really standoffish. I'm not shy."

On Williams being one of the reasons he went to Texas:
"Absolutely."

On cutting dreads part of a fresh start and shedding the past:
"Something like that. Life is changing and I'm kind of stepping up to the next level, moving on, I just wanted to be fresh, get a fresh start to it."

On off the field issues impacting draft status:
"Not really. I don't think so. There's no such thing as perfect. Who makes it through college without anything on their record? The most important thing would be me learning a lessons from it, and if I've learned and moved on from it. Had I not or if they feel I have not learned a lesson maybe it would be a problem."

On fielding questions from NFL personnel about his statement that the Heisman was more important than wining a game:
"A little bit. I'll just tell them, like I told the guy who asked the question, it was a childhood dream. It was a tough situation. When I was growing up I didn't know nothing about a Texas-OU (Oklahoma) game, but I knew about the Heisman. It was speaking from the heart. It was an honest question and an honest answer. If I could change it I would, but that would be lying. Everybody can lie and be fake and seem like the rainbow's perfect."

On having any off-the-field regrets:
"Not at all. All the lessons off the field, all the things I've done off the field have taught me valuable lessons in life and made me the man I am today. I'm grateful for them, of course they weren't the best things to do, they caused some negative feedback and things like that but as far as growing up and being a man they taught me valuable lessons and I'm very grateful for them."

On how important football is in his life:
"It's really hard to describe, but I gave up baseball for it. That says a lot. I made a dedication to the university and my team and I wanted to play football. Put baseball behind me, even though they were paying me at the time, put the money behind me and everything and dedicated myself to football."

On how close he came turning pro as a junior:
"I was pretty close (to coming out last year) but I just realized that I want to make a direct impact when I come into the NFL and be ready to play and start out strong. At the time I felt like there were things I could improve on to be as successful as I wanted to be in the NFL right away so I thought staying was the best choice for me."

On his biggest adjustment to playing in the NFL:
"I guess money management. I don't think things on the field will be too big of an adjustment at all. Actually I think it'll be easier because guys won't be able to load the box up on me like it was in college. Handling things off the field will be the biggest challenge."

On going to a team in the middle of a rebuilding project:
"I wouldn't have no complaints or nothing like that. It would be a bit of a change but it would be a challenge that I'd be willing to take on. Give me a chance to learn even more about myself on the field and see what I could do on a team like that. I think it would be a great challenge and I'd be willing and ready to take it on."

On pressure on of following in footsteps of Priest Holmes and Ricky Williams:
"I congratulate those guys for what they did, but I don't think it's any pressure on me. It makes me feel kind of good if they were successful, then the chances are pretty good I'll be too. Just staying positive about it, not afraid of the challenge, not afraid of anything ahead of me. I know my hard work and dedication and my natural abilities will take care of themselves."

On the possibility of not starting as a rookie:
"I know that happens. There's a chance I could go to a team where they already have a set running back, a starting guy in there, but I'll tell you one thing, if that situation does come up, I'm going to give him a hell of a challenge.

On interests away from football:
"I like Rottweilers, I love dogs, I want to own a kennel some day. I like Formula One racing and touring racecars. I like speed." On being able to do other things than running the football: "I think I'll do great (catching the ball, defensive recognition and blocking). (It's) Part of the game. It's a role I had to play in Austin. Guys like (Chris) Simms and (Major) Applewhite they like to drop it down to the backs and they taught me a lot of things. I don't thin that'll be a difficult part of the game at all."

On whether or not he likes the spotlight:
"No, I'm not one to just put myself out there or look for it, but I'm not going to run away from it. I understand it's part of the game, and in a sense it can be very fun and enjoyable. It's nice to have your name out there and now possibly make a little money doing it. I have fun with it, I try to make the best of it and use it as a positive."


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