Patriots Draft: Mills Helps Draft Prospect

Not much has been heard from Garrett Mills since the Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. One person who has heard from him, and often, is his teammate from Tulsa. Find out what Mills has been saying to this young LB in this exclusive Q&A.

Ed Thompson: I know you've had to deal with people saying you may be too small to play linebacker in the NFL at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, but you can tell them that two of the three starting linebackers on the World Champion Indianapolis Colts are smaller than you.

Nick Bunting: That's true, that's what me and my friends talk about. I have a lot of good friends here, they're another support group. We all just pull for each other; my roommate is Kedrick Alexander, a safety that will probably get a shot in the league. We just push each other every day and try to stay focused and not really listen to what everyone is talking about and do our thing.

ET: What do you love about the game of football?

NB: The camaraderie with the guys. Obviously it will be a little different in the NFL. Just going out there and forgetting about everything else in the world and just play ball. There is no feeling like that. You put yourself in a different mindset. Another person comes out when I'm on the field than what I'm like in everyday life. Normally I'm pretty laid back, but on the field I'm intense.

ET: You mentioned that you work out with (New England TE) Garrett Mills?? What has he been able to share with you about going through Pro Day and making it to the pros that will be helpful to you?

NB: He told me that he thinks that I am good enough to play in the pros. He was in a little bit of a different situation than I am. He actually got to go to the Combine, so he didn't actually run the forty at our Pro Day, he did some position work. He knows how fast I am and how strong I am, and he said if I just go in there and work and do what I do, they are going to notice me. He told me that somebody will pick me up and whoever does, they will have a player. He knows I can play, we respect each other. It's good to have a guy like that have your back, being a big brother to me and leading me, telling me what I need to be working on and a couple tips on the bench press, stuff like that. Just little things.

(Photo: Tulsa University Athletics)
ET: You're a very smart football player. How much of that is studying versus instinct do you think?

NB: I feel that I can go out and play on pure instinct. But I think where I get my advantage is from studying. There's always going to be three or four plays in the game where you can change the complexion of the game if you have studied, because there are certain tendencies your opponents have and it can be the difference of you making or not making the play. I always tried to study film everyday for at least an hour, maybe two depending on what kind of day it was school wise. I take pride in studying film and trying to find tendencies. You'll always find me talking to the coaches trying to find out what they're thinking and what tendencies they're seeing. I think if you're just playing on instincts you can be a good football player, but studying the game and being a student of the game will make a good player great.

ET: Have you played all three linebacker positions? And do you feel you're stronger at one than the other?

NB: I'm stronger at middle linebacker. I played there my freshman year at 205 pounds and did a pretty good job. I feel that's where my instincts kick in a lot more. I played all three linebacker positions the last two years. They moved me around a little bit my freshman year, I started out on the outside and then they moved me to the middle because they needed a leader. Tulsa had only won one game the year before my class got there -- they were 1-11 the past two years -- so they were looking for young leadership and I just tried to pick it up. On different downs, I would play different linebacker positions. Whatever they asked me to do, I would do it. I love being the middle linebacker and being the quarterback. I like telling everybody where to line up and stuff like that. I like when everything is right in front of me and being right in the middle of the formation so you can attack it. At outside linebacker the angles are a little different; I think I'm better at middle.

ET: What have you been hearing from scouts of various teams?

NB: I'm just going to leave that up to my agent. I'm going to work and let him do what he needs to do. I'm just going to stay focused on me and not get distracted.

ET: You like to fish, bowl and play video games. What's the hot video game that you're playing right now?

NB: Me and my roommate have the X-Box 360 with the wireless controllers and we've got a 52-inch flat screen HD, so we play anything. But it's usually either Madden or College Football.

In case you missed it, be sure to see part one of this interview: Bunting Will Prove Doubters Wrong ... Again

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