'They'll be happy McGahee's a teammate'

Willis McGahee had nothing more to prove in college – even after his injury – says Miami running backs coach Don Soldinger. Soldinger added that when McGahee is ready, Buffalo will have a Pro Bowl-type player. Soldinger discusses that and other things in his exclusive interview with Mike Doser.



Mike Doser: You've said in newspaper stories that you felt Willis was doing the right thing in declaring for the draft. What made you so sure?

Soldinger: Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to see Willis come back here, but why take a chance on hurting (the knee) again and really ending your career, you know? I felt that he did everything … statistically, he's the best back that's ever been here. And there have been some good ones here. So what is he going to do statistically – just keep adding to those statistics. He was already projected as maybe being the third pick in the draft anyway, going to Houston. So how much more can you enhance your draft status by coming back?

Secondly, now he has an operation, he's rehabbing and got himself back. Why even chance it? There is a chance he might get hurt again. He worked hard to get back. Let him earn that money and take a chance on the next level.

I really commend Buffalo for doing what they did, and [probably] putting him on the physically unable to perform list. They're letting him get back. They know what his work ethic is. They did their homework, because this guy … if you say, "Willis, this is your job to get that thing better than it was before," he will get it better than it was before. He'll make that knee … he might not hurt that knee [anymore], he might hurt the other one. Ain't gonna hurt that knee again.

That's the kind of kid he is. If that [knee] can be made better than before, he'll do it. Now you got a Pro Bowl-type player on your hands for a long time. Whatever you want him to do as far as working out and stuff, he'll do.

Doser: Sometimes guys who come out early are not emotionally mature to handle the NFL lifestyle yet. Willis is 21. Do you think Willis will be able to handle that?

Soldinger: Yeah. Definitely. And he'll do very well at it. I'll tell you what. A lot of guys on that team will be happy to have him as a teammate. He's that type of guy. You walk into a bar and you get into a fight, you want Willis McGahee on your back. He's all the things that it takes to win championships. That's what Willis is about. He's about winning. He's not about stats, he's about winning. He's about making the big play and helping his team win. He's a team guy.

And that's what you'd like to see more of at the NFL level. A lot of guys get wrapped up in their contracts. Or their pockets aren't heavy enough.

Doser: That might be the agent's influence though. Not the player himself.

Soldinger: Could be. I worked a year on the pro level. I did advance scouting for the Dolphins. My thing at looking at football from the pro level is in the negotiation, get what you can get. It's all business. Get as much as you can get. But once you ink the thing, earn it. Put in a hard day's work, an honest day's work. You got to take care of your money and you got to take care of things and surround yourself with people you can trust, but now when you go to work, let's go. You want to be in the Super Bowl, let's work like it and practice like it. You signed that contract, you wouldn't have signed it if you didn't (agree) with the money. So you signed it, let's go. I don't want to hear anything else about it, that you're not getting paid enough and things like it. Let's roll up the sleeves and go in one direction.

Up next: Soldinger discusses whether McGahee and Travis Henry will get along, and the impact Les Steckel will make on McGahee's NFL development.


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