Insider Exclusive: Q&A with LB Eric Bakhtiari

SDBoltReport.com's Michael Kranzler continues his exclusive interview with USD linebacker Eric Bakhtiari, this time for Insiders only. Bakhtiari explains how he racked up 20 sacks last season; what is so daunting about his transition to the NFL; and why his former teammate, QB Josh Johnson, is full of it. Read on for all the answers.

Michael Kranzler: You had 20 sacks your senior year, which was nearly twice as many as the rest of your team combined. How did you become such a dominant pass-rusher?

Eric Bakhtiari: I wouldn't necessarily say I was dominant in the pass rush, because on half of the sacks I was either blocked initially or one of my teammates got there before I did and just flushed him to me. Due to my high motor, I didn't give up on the play and was able to get off the block and make the sack.

MK: Who do you think will have an easier transition to the NFL: You or USD teammate Josh Johnson [fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay]?

EB: I don't know. I've never played quarterback before, I've just sacked them. [Johnson] is so smart. He came from a pro-style offense and runs the same calls in Tampa Bay's offense as we did at USD. He's super smart and not everyone in college comes from a pro-style offense like he did, and he has that advantage of knowing the terminology, while I'm learning an entirely new position. I'm learning how to drop into coverage, which I haven't done very much in my career, and I'm learning new terminology, so he may have the advantage on me there.

MK: And how would you like to get a chance to sack him in the NFL?

EB: That would be my ultimate goal, because we weren't allowed to touch him in practice. He always said that if we were, I wouldn't be able to catch him. I told him that he's full of it and now I get to prove that he is.

MK: What does it mean to you to get to stay in San Diego and play for the Chargers?

EB: It means the world to me. I love this city, it's really like my second home. When people ask where I'm from, I tell them I'm from San Francisco and San Diego. I've been here for five years and hopefully I can be here for ten more. It's an honor. I started becoming a fan of the Chargers during my time at college because my roommate was a huge Chargers fan. Being from the Bay Area, I grew up a Niners fan and they didn't really play each other except for the Super Bowl, and we won so I don't hold a grudge against them. I liked the players a lot. I liked L.T. I was a big Merriman fan, Philip Rivers, all of those guys. My girlfriend cheered for them for two years and she had season tickets this last year, so we went to a lot of games. I just really root for them. I like the city, I like what they did for the community, and shoot, when they called me and said that they were thinking about signing me, it made me the biggest fan of theirs of all time.

MK: The San Diego Union-Tribune isn't giving you much of a chance to make this team due to the depth the Chargers already have at linebacker. What do you need to do in order to prove all the experts wrong?

EB: I'm not going to start over Shawne Merriman. That's a given. My impact isn't going to be felt right away at the linebacker position. It's going to be felt on special teams. What I need to do is bring my skill-set – my size, my strength, my speed, my high motor and my knowledge of what to do – to the special teams side of the ball. I need to get on every special team, which I'm capable of doing, and I need to know what to do at multiple positions, not just the one I'm assigned at, and know how to succeed at those positions. If I can contribute to that phase of the game, that's one-third of the game, and I make myself a lot more valuable, because they are very stocked at the linebacker position.

MK: Is there anything that you want to say to all the Chargers fans out there or that you would want them to know about you?

EB: Just know that I'm a local guy and I know what they expect. I'm going to try my hardest to give it to them.

Click here for the rest of the interview, where Bakhtiari talks about learning from veterans, walking on water and more.


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