Tuskegee Coaches on Chargers Drayton Florence

Denis Savage, of Chargers Update, spoke with Tuskegee defensive backs coach Antonio Knight and Tuskegee defensive coordinator Gregory Green in regards to Drayton Florence, the San Diego Chargers first of two picks in the second round of the NFL Draft. Along with talk of Florence we get the inside scoop on a little known Charger – Lemual Ligon.

Drayton Florence was chosen by the San Diego Chargers with the Chargers first pick in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, 46th overall. The former Tennessee-Chattanooga star transferred to Tuskegee as a junior.

What can you tell us about him?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "He is a good kid, well mannered and he is a great athlete most of all. He came in as a transfer and did a great job for our program."

GREGORY GREEN: "Y'all got a good one. He is a hard worker and he is going to surprise some people coming from a small University but don't let that fool you. We do work down here."

Were you surprised he was taken in the middle of the second round?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "No not at all. I knew he was a great athlete. I guess a little bit. I thought they were going to hold him back coming from a black college, coming from Tuskegee. I thought that they would hold that against him until late in the second round."

GREGORY GREEN: "I thought he was going to get picked higher to tell you the truth. What a lot of people don't realize is at this level I think it is the same quality athlete. A lot of guys for one reason or another just decide to go to Division II. As far as the speed of the receivers he goes against, the quarterbacks…it's pretty much the same athlete."

Drayton Florence started all year at left cornerback as a senior, recording 43 tackles (31 solos) with a 4 stops for losses of 9 yards. He also added a team-high 15 pass deflections and intercepted 5 others for 177 yards in returns, while twice being named SIAC Player of the Week.

What other teams scouted him?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "The question should be what team didn't."

GREGORY GREEN: "Yeah everybody. Everybody wanted him. I think he is going to work out real good with the coaches you got out there."

How has he responded to off the field adversity?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Not a problem at all, not a problem at all."

Is it true that had personality issues while attending your school?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Not at all. These guys let me tell you…no personality issues at all over here. If he had personality issues I would tell you so but nothing like that, he is a great kid."

How is he on special teams?

GREGORY GREEN: "He will do whatever you want him to do. He will do whatever. I think he will probably be better hitting somebody than returning it, with a laugh. He would be better on the defensive side of the ball. We never really used him as a kick returner."

I know he returned three interceptions for a touchdown is why I ask. His three touchdowns on interception returns actually set a school record for the Golden Tigers.

GREGORY GREEN: "He is a pretty good athlete. He will win anyone's eye ball test. He is a big corner and fast. And he picks up on things very well. Alls he need now is to be taught those special techniques to take him to the next level."

What kind of defense do you play at Tuskegee and what is the best defense to utilize Drayton's talents?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "We run a split 6. Any defense at all."

GREGORY GREEN: "A split 6 is our base but they way people pass they make us get out of it anyway."

What are his strengths?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "What do you want him, man-to-man, zone, it doesn't matter."

GREGORY GREEN: "Yeah he is a bump-and-run type of guy but he is pretty smart and plays zone well too. We played 90% zone anyway. We don't play a lot of man-to-man, or at least not as much as we probably should have," says Green with a laugh. "You would expect us to play a lot of man so we play a lot of zone. Our D-line did a good job of pass rushing so we didn't have to put too much pressure on them."

As a tackler?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "He is all right. He got better this year because we played him at free safety. His tackling got better as the year went on."

GREGORY GREEN: "He'll hit ya, He will come up and hit you."

The four-year starter collected 161 tackles (116 solos) with 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 13 interceptions for 258 yards in returns, 32 pass deflections and 3 fumble recoveries in 44 collegiate games. Florence collected 74 tackles (51 solos) with 23 pass breakups, 6 stops for losses and 9 interceptions for 251 yards in returns during his two years at Tuskegee.

Has he ever been injured?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Nah besides Tennessee, he hasn't been injured. I know when he was working out at the combines he strained a hamstring."

What does he have to work on to be successful in the NFL?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Just keep working hard just like he is doing."

GREGORY GREEN: "Just understand there is a lot of speed up there too. It's not going to be a one game big player, next game – the quality of the players is going to be consistent in the NFL. The speed – everybody is fast. Learn his techniques and I think he will learn it. I think he will surprise a lot of people that didn't know about him."

In recent years Tuskegee is breeding top notch corners, will this continue?

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Yeah I have another one coming out this year."

GREGORY GREEN: "We have another corner who I think is going to be real good this year. Probably two corners. Two corners and a wide receiver and Drayton Florence has a cousin, a running back we got down here too. I think we will have two or three more guys get picked up next year."

Well you guys are the coaches out there so I have to give you some props.

ANTONIO KNIGHT: "Well I appreciate that," Knight said with a laugh.

Hey Coach Green you are from Savannah State, what do you know about Lemual Ligon?

"Lemual Ligon! Now you talk about Savannah, we blitzed every single play. It was first down send two, second down send three, third down send the house! And he was the guy who controlled it all. He had to be the one that put everybody in the right position."

"You are talking about a smart, technique, sound individual that is him."

"I was surprised he was there (in NFL Europe). I didn't even know he was there. I saw him get an interception a few weeks back with :09 seconds left. One of our old players called me to tell me he was playing over there and the next week I saw him on TV. They ball chipped off someone else's shoulder and he caught it.

"Now you talk about a guy who played man-to-man. Only thing that bothered him was he is not tall. You are not going to look at him and say ‘Wow'. He is not like Drayton. He is going to give you a run for your money though. We were the number one defense in the nation that year."

Back to Drayton -- as I explain how Drayton has done thus far in practice.

GREGORY GREEN: "Wait till you get the pads on."

"Roosevelt when he was in Chicago they were like he was doing ok…but when those pads came on…"

Now the Chargers just need to get Florence signed and in camp so he can don those pads and prove his coaches right.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@netzero.net

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