Draft Prospect Q&A: Tez Doolittle

Auburn defensive tackle Tez Doolittle is one of the comeback stories of this year's draft class. Following a severe Achilles injury in 2007, doctors told him his career was likely over. Less than two years later, he's hoping to hear his name called in the NFL Draft. Doolittle chatted with Eric Hartz recently and told him about the road to recovery.

Eric Hartz: Tell me a little about your Pro Day and how you felt it went.

Tez Doolittle: I tweaked my hamstring about two weeks prior to the Pro Day, so I was just trying to get my hamstring healthy enough to run the 40. That was what was on my mind. I think the scouts had me down at 5.2, 5.24, or something. So I told my agent I wanted to run it, if he said I thought I could run it, then run. So I ran down, and on the first 40, I tweaked my hamstring again. but I ended up with a 4.89, and a 4.92.

I got the bench press about 22 times, and I was kinda upset about that, because the whole time I was training I was putting up 30-plus, I guess it was just the pressure. My vertical was about 29 1/2 and I didn't get the other times.

I was excited about it (the 40). I weighed in at 285, I wanted to be at 290, right now I'm about 292. I'm going to try to go in weighing about 295. I think I need to go in at least 295.

EH: What other kinds of questions are scouts asking you?

TD: My injury. They want to know about my Achilles is 100 percent and if and if I can push through. I didn't have any problems with my Achilles last season ... it feels good. That's the main question a lot of teams are asking ... and basically it's running a lot of teams off, because of my injury.

Doolittle brings down a ballcarrier from Ole Miss
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

EH: Tell me about how it happened and what did the doctors tell you about your football career at the time?

TD:It was during two-a-days in 07 and we were doing a pass-rush drill. I came off the ball and I stepped on the guard's foot or something and all my weight came down it and it (my Achilles') just snapped, everybody heard it snap and I fell to the ground. I tried to stand up and put weight on it and fell again. The trainers carried me off.

(The Achilles) is a little tendon in the back of your hamstring, and it's attached to your heel bone or whatever, and it snapped right off the heel bone ... they (the doctors) told me my career was over. As soon as I could get back to doing things I started doing whatever I could do. I was in the pool, on the treadmill, walking, lifting whatever weights I could to get better.

Everything worked out. I got the sixth year and got back in like seven months. The doctor told me it was going to take 16 months to get back and I got back in seven months.

EH: As you were able to petition the NCAA and get a sixth year of eligibility. It's not often that happens and you were able to make the most of it. What did that mean to you?

TD: It was just a blessing, man. I got together with my people and prayed about it ... I was in Atlanta when I got a voicemail, I was listening to it, and I thought ‘did they say what I think they said?' so I called them back. They said, ‘good news, you got your year back!' I was so excited, I was jumping up and down on the bed, it was just a real emotional moment.

EH: Let's talk about 2008 a little bit. You started out as a backup, but as the season went on, you moved into the starting lineup and stayed there the rest of the season. Was that when you felt you were truly back?

TD: I was told we were just going to ease me back into things, they didn't want me to go all out on it and have the injury appear again, so I was basically limited. The Southern Miss game, I had a pretty decent game, so the coaches were talking about getting me more and more snaps, and I guess I just took advantage of it.

EH: Tell me about your overall college experience. You had some tough times but do you feel you came out of it a better person and football player?

TD: I know I'm a better person. I've been through it and managed to push through it. Once I made my mind on what I wanted to do it was mission accomplished. I came to Auburn a young man, a boy or whatever ... I've grown up a lot. I got my degree, graduated in three and a half year. That was in '07 after I came back and was working on a second degree in exercise science but I didn't get to finish that one. But I'm glad I did that. My first degree was in criminal justice.

EH: Tell me a little bit about the teams that have showed interest in you.

TD: At my Pro Day, the teams that showed the most interest were the Raiders, Colts, Dolphins, Broncos, and Tampa.

EH: When I heard about the Colts being interested in you, I thought it sounded like a good fit. How do you feel you would do in their system?

TD: All their defensive linemen are explosive, in the 280-290 range. I think I can fit right in there.

EH: Some of your teammates, like Sen'Derrick Marks, are going to be going on to the NFL. What have you guys talked about through the draft process?

TD: Me and Sen'Derrick have been roommates up in Atlanta and worked out at the same facility. We sit around and talk. The other day I said ‘you were 17 years old when I met you, now you're 22.' We were talking about how time flies and we're still trying to pursue the same dream together now.

EH: If football doesn't work out for you, what would you like to do?

TD: I'd really like to run my own business. Or if that didn't work out, I wouldn't mind being in law enforcement, like maybe a prison guard.

EH: What are you like off the field? What do you like to do for fun, what are your other interests besides football?

TD: I have a younger brother that's playing football at Opalacha High School right now, he's going to the 10th grade. I like to get with him and work with him on things, like his get-off and his stance and show him how to get right. When I do go home, I like to be with my family and go fishing with my granddaddy every now and then.

EH: If an NFL team asks why they should draft you or sign you, what kind of player would you tell them they were getting?

TD: I lead by example. I wouldn't want to come in and be a vocal leader because that's not really me. I just go in and do what I have to do. If guys want to follow me, I'll set the example in doing things. I'm a hard worker. I've had injuries that should have ended my career but I fought through those.

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