We recently had the opportunity to talk at length with University of Miami standout tight-end Jeremy Shockey. Early projections have Shockey as a possible first round draft selection.
Most people don't know that you played a season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M. How did that experience help you get to where you are today?
Shockey: I went JC (Junior College) when I got out of high school (Ada High School, Ada, Oklahoma). It was due to that game experience and exposure that the recruiters became seriously interested in me. There were quite a few large schools that were looking at me at the time.
Being a high school football star in Ada, Oklahoma, and refining some of your skills in JC, what led to your decision to attend the University of Miami, Florida and how difficult was the decision to leave Oklahoma?
Shockey: I was getting a lot of pressure to go to Oklahoma. Being a home-state kid, it was like I supposed to stay there. Coach (Larry) Coker was one of the guys that recruited me. He was a regional recruiter at the time. He showed an interest in me, besides that of a player.
What is area of studies?
Shockey: My major is in Liberal Arts.
Upon arriving at Miami, what were your initial thoughts about the school and the team?
Shockey: I heard and talked to people that told me that Miami was a great school and a great program. I wanted to be part of something with that tradition and to have the opportunity to play against the best competition. I believe that you get better by playing against the best, say like against a team like Florida State.
Speaking of Florida State, you caught your first touchdown pass for the Hurricanes against them, that grab sealed the victory against the then National Champions.
Shockey: I injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in the game and didn't play much. I wanted to play and told the coaches that I could play, there was no way I was going to miss a game like that. That was just the reason I went to Miami, to play in that type of game. (Miami-quarterback) Dorsey made a great throw, all I had to do was hold onto the ball.
You started the 2000 season as the backup at tight-end to Ivan Mercer. As the season progressed you became more of an option in the offense. Did you know that your opportunities would increase?
Shockey: When I came here (Miami) I knew that we had great coaches and was told that I would get opportunities. Actually, I was amazed how fast I learned and fit into the system. As a team we worked hard, Coach (Butch) Davis demanded a lot from us. I was proud of my first-year.
What was playing for Butch Davis like and compare him to your new head coach, Larry Coker.
Shockey: Coach Davis was very vocal and demanding. He is such a great coach, a great guy. Coach is intimidating, wanted things done right the first time and would send you home if you were late for a meeting. I really had a great time playing for him, I learned a lot and was sorry to see him leave.
Shockey: Coach Coker is quite a bit different than Coach Davis. We are more of a tight-knit bunch with Coach Coker, when Coach Davis left, we (the team) wanted Coach Coker to get the job, we (the team) wanted to play for him.
What was the most exciting or defining moment for you personally at Miami?
Shockey: Not having the opportunity to play for the National Championship after the 2000 season hurt, we felt we were the best team and didn't have that chance. It really left a bad feeling in my heart and I didn't want to relive that. We were on a mission last season (2001 season), we wanted that National Championship and worked extremely hard to get it. It is such a great feeling to achieve at this level, that shows what an amazing team we have and just how much we believed in one another.
Shockey: Also catching the touchdown pass against Florida State is an important one for me, that was my first and it was against our rival.
Coming off of winning the National Championship, why did you decide to declare for the 2002 NFL Draft?
Shockey: I thought the time was right. We won the National Championship, in my heart I felt it was time. I know that I can only get better by playing against the best and by going pro I hopefully can continue to grow as a player and person.
Shockey: I am also aware of the injury factor in staying another season. I weighed the options, what if I were to get hurt, or say Dorsey were to get hurt, or I couldn't compete at 100%. In my heart, I know I am making the right decision.
Have you talk with scouts or anyone from the NFL that helped you with your decision and inform you where you in what area of the draft you may be selected?
Shockey: I really haven't talked to anyone, but with the coaches here at Miami. I haven't spoken with anyone from the NFL.
How supportive are your coaches regarding the decision you have come to?
Shockey: Coach Coker was OK with it, we talked a lot and felt that I was ready to play at the next level. He wanted me to stay for my last season, but also he understands why I am leaving.
Shockey: Coach (Rob) Chudzinski (offensive coordinator/tight-ends coach) wasn't so pleased with the decision. He wanted me to stay and work more. There are things in my game that he wants to see me do better and I know that there are things that I can improve on. In the end, I believe he respected my decision.
Concerning your game, what can you improve upon?
Shockey: I believe that I can improve in all areas of the game. I can be a better receiver, run better routes, block better, and learn more about the game. I work hard and push myself, I want to be the best I can be.
What is your strength on the playing field?
Shockey: It would have to be my ability as a receiver. In our system at Miami, I get the opportunity to go downfield and matchup against the safeties and linebackers, sometimes we are able to create mismatches due to my size and speed.
On your size and speed, what are those measurables?
Shockey: I am 6' 5-1/2" and weigh 251-pounds. I haven't been timed for quite awhile.
Do you plan on having a personal workout before the draft?
Shockey: I will be at the combines in Indianapolis and plan on being involved at the workouts here at Miami.
Is there a certain team or specific type system that you hope to be drafted into this April?
Shockey: I would like to go somewhere that gets the ball to the tight-end, that has great fans, and support. I really want the opportunity to play.
A team like the Browns are rumored to be looking for a receiving type tight-end, what are your thoughts of Cleveland?
Shockey: Cleveland would be great, the fans are great and I would love the opportunity to play for Coach Davis.
Do you have any regrets as you head off to the NFL?
Shockey: None what-so-ever. I am very proud to have gone to Miami, I couldn't have made a better choice. I am a Hurricane and proud to have been part of that tradition and family.
Jeremy, thank you for your time and good luck come April and in the future.
Shockey: Thank you.