Jamie Silva: It was fun. I enjoy playing football a lot, and just being out on the field — whatever my role is — I try to do the best I can. Coming in as the last scholarship or one of the last scholarships for the Class of '07 at Boston College, once I got the scholarship I felt like I belonged in the class. Even while I was getting recruited and didn't have a scholarship, I knew that I could play at that level. And once I got it, I knew that there were still some people who were doubting I could play, but I knew I could. And coming out of Rhode Island I had the whole state backing me, there's not to many kids coming out of Rhode Island that play Division-I football. Hard work and believing in yourself can take you a long way.
Thompson: During your senior year you made a team-leading 125 tackles, including 82 solo tackles and made eight interceptions. Do you still feel there are doubters out there now that you're trying to make the leap to the NFL?
Silva: Yeah, I feel like there were more doubters when I was coming out of high school to play college then there are right now with me coming out of college to play at the next level. But, I'm sure there still are doubters out there. Some people don't like to see people do well, but all that matters is that I believe that I can do it. And I do have my family and friends as well as fans, so a lot of people do believe in me which is good. But as long as I believe in myself, that's the biggest thing.
Thompson: You also forced a couple fumbles, returning one of them 51 yards for a touchdown. Talk about that play and how memorable was that for you?
Silva: That was cool. That was in the ACC championship game, I think it was the first score of the game. It was nice to get our team on the board, and anytime a defensive touchdown happens its always exciting. As I'm running, I'm telling myself, "I'm not getting caught. I've got to get into the end zone." It's exciting to make a big play in a big game and help your team.
Jamie Silva raises the MVP Trophy he earned at the Champs Sports Bowl in December, 2007.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Thompson: You put yourself in the record books for good with that play as it was the first defensive score in ACC Championship history. Your eight interceptions this year took your career total to 14, fourth best in school history. What was different about this year? Was it just the extra experience, a little bit different of a role? What was it?
Silva: I think each year I progressed a little bit. Sophomore year my tackles were a lot higher then my junior year, but I had four interceptions my junior year. I was hampered by a knee injury that season and missed a game, and then was slow getting back into the next few games. I was only in on certain packages to bring me back into it slow. So this year I really worked hard in the offseason, and thank God I had a healthy season and was able to pull all the pieces together. The scheme wasn't really any different, I've been playing the same position for a couple of years, and our defensive coordinator stayed on even though we had a new coaching staff come in. So I was able to just go out there and do what I do in practice, and I was able to make plays in the game. It was a very fun year.
Thompson: Are you the kind of guy who the quarterback and then breaks on the ball? Or are you making all those interceptions primarily with tight coverage?
Silva: I think I do a little of both. It depends on the situation in the game and the type of quarterback. That's why studying film helps you pick up their tendencies during the week and listening to what the coaches have to say. I knew certain teams were going to try and throw the corner route, and I was able to just sit on top of it until the receiver broke — then I was able to break under it. Sometimes I just use pure instinct out there and just try and beat the receiver to his passes, not knowing where its coming from.
Thompson: You've made a name for yourself playing special teams as well.
Silva: Yeah, I enjoy special teams a lot. Playing in the East-West Shrine Game, they had me on every special teams. I really enjoy playing the game of football and being out there no matter if it's returning a punt or being on the front lines trying to block a punt, or running down the field trying to block somebody so our punt returner can get a few more yards or maybe break one. I won't take a down off on special teams because I really enjoy it, and I'll do whatever it takes to help the team be successful. I hope that a team will pick me up and then put me in all across the board.
Thompson: What was the most important thing you took away from the East West Shrine Game?
Silva: I think it was good to get out there and meet with all the NFL teams because I heard that at the Combine they interview you, so it was nice to get a bunch of interviews under the belt and see how that kind of works. It was also nice to practice with kids from all over the country that were the stars of their teams. I was voted captain by the rest of the defense, so that was cool, it made me realize that these kids respect what I do and they notice that I'm out here playing hard.
Thompson: What teams were showing interest in you during the week?.
Silva: I didn't keep count, but it was probably close to 30 teams. So I talked to almost every team.
Jaime Silva returns one of his eight interceptions in 2007 against Bowling Green.
Thompson: Who was the first team that walked up to you? That had to be a surreal moment, because even though you knew it would happen at some point after finishing your college career, actually having that first team walk up to you had to be really special.
Silva: The Falcons. When I got there I had to start taking tests, and in between the tests I was just supposed to go from one to another. And I couldn't even get into one room before the Atlanta Falcons scout pulled me aside and talked to me for a little bit, so it was cool.
Thompson: What are you doing to get ready for the Combine?
Silva: I'm working out down at Tom Shaw's in Florida. It's good down here. We have over 40 guys, and then there's NFL players also working out down here and helping us with drills. I've been doing a lot of work with (Steelers cornerback) Ike Taylor, which has been great. There's a few guys from the Steelers down here and some guys from a lot of other teams like the Jaguars and the Falcons. It's good to get meet some NFL guys, work with them and see how they work. And a lot of it's just playing football and the basics — just continue to develop and become a better player.
Thompson: As Ike has been working with you, has there been anything that he has complemented specifically or anything that he tells you that you shouldn't be doing at the pro level?
Silva: Just some little footwork things from what I was taught in college to what they teach at the pros. I think it will help me out immensely, and I appreciate what he does and what the other guys do to help us develop into players for the next level.
Thompson: Do you want to send any message out to the Boston College fans who I know will be wishing the best for you over the next couple months?
Silva: I'll just try and continue to make them proud. And I wish BC the best of luck, and of course I'll be supporting them for the rest of my life. So, go Eagles and let's go B.C.!