Derek Landri: For me, it's obviously graduating. I went to Notre Dame not only for the great football, but for the great education - the sense of a life after football.
ET: What do you want to do after football is over?
DL: I plan on getting into some type of real estate out here in California or
wherever I'm at -- more than likely in California. But graduating, a double
major in history and computer applications and then going out on top, football
wise. Coming in it was kind of a sticky situation with your coach getting fired
and then they bring in another coach three days later, then he gets fired, then
having a good first year and struggling the next two. Having Coach Weis come in
and as a team finish the way you should finish, just the way you should play
football at Notre Dame was kind of the most rewarding to me.
ET: Was there anything Coach Weis has been able to share with you and the other seniors that particularly helped you guys prepare for this process you've been going through?
DL: When I was done with everything and waiting for this process to happen, I sat down and talked to him and he said, "don't try to figure out where you're going to go or where you're going to get drafted--relax, you've done everything you can do. Whoever drafts you is where you're going to go, you're going to fall in love with that team and play the way you've been taught and the way you know how." I think that's allowed me to sit back--not exactly relax and have an 'on the beach in Hawaii' peace of mind--but to kind of enjoy it a little bit more and feel the experience, not dread it.
ET: Before you arrived at Notre Dame you had a compound fracture of your ankle - how did that happen?
DL: I was messing around, bike riding in Southern California and fell off the bike, landed on the curb and tweaked my ankle.
ET: Did that bring your biking days to an end?
DL: [laughs] Oh yeah, I haven't since.
ET: Since that's how your career at Notre Dame started, isn't it ironic
that you then rattled off 37 consecutive starts?
DL: Yes, I was really disappointed coming out of high school pretty highly touted. It's very disappointing to come in your first year and have to sit because you were messing around and not necessarily doing what you should've been doing. It was very disappointing not to be able to contribute right away.
|Derek Landri zeroes in on Ohio State QB Troy Smith (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)|
DL: I think it was just something I was taught at an early age, to never give up. Always go till the whistle is blown and don't ever stop, there is always a chance something could happen and you can change the pace of the game. I was taught early on at Notre Dame as well, when we didn't want to run to the ball because you're tired or not always fresh and the coaches kind of grinded into us with almost a drill sergeant attitude to run to the ball--and if you didn't, you were going to hear it. It became kind of second nature, it wasn't anything you would think about, you would do it because that's part of football.
ET: How proud are you of the fact that you have the single-season record of four blocked kicks at Notre Dame?
DL: Looking back, it's just kind of something we took pride in at Notre Dame--never giving up. If there's an opportunity to play a snap, you're going to play it to the fullest. It's a tribute to not just me, but my teammates and coaches for not letting little things, like a field goal or an extra point, go by the wayside and taking advantage of every moment on the field.
ET: Is there any common denominator to those blocked kicks or anything in particular you did that helped your success on those plays?
DL: It was a combination of a lot of things, getting out early in the week with Coach Polian and I have to give a lot of credit to Maurice Crum, our linebacker, because he gave us a nice little push and he was able to time it up with our get off, mine especially, to give us that extra push to get under the guys in front of us. The rest is just getting your hands up and trying to get in there.
ET: You mentioned Coach Polian. When we were at the Combine and I had the opportunity to chat with you for a few minutes, you had mentioned that you had some time to talk to his dad, Bill Polian from the Colts...
DL: Yes, and he gave a nice address to us at the beginning of the Combine--kind of a nice introduction to what was to come and what was ahead of us.
ET: What did you think of him? Was that the first time you met him?
DL: Yes as a face-to-face. He'd been around for a few of our games and he seemed like a great guy. Hopefully if things go right, I look forward to playing for him and working underneath him.
ET: Do you see yourself excelling in a one-gap type defense? A lot of teams are moving towards the Tampa 2, Cover 2 type of schemes...
DL: I think so, a lot more than a 3-4 defense. I think I'd excel a lot more, from the teams I've talked to with the three-technique, kind of penetrating and using my speed a little more at that position.
ET: Who are some of the teams that you have talked to in that vein, that would put you in the three-technique?
DL: Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver and Chicago are a few teams off the top of my head.
ET: What else can I share about you either as a person or a player that you think is important for the fans to know about you?
DL: What you see is what you get with me. When you see the film or watch tape, that's what I bring to the table. You'll never see me take a play off or stand and watch around the pile--I'm always going to be in there. I'm always going to play as hard as I can for as long as I can. They say 'all day tough,' that's what I'm going to do. That's how I played in college and that's what I'm going to do at the next level wherever I'm at.
Learn more about Derek Landri at his player profile page.
|A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.|