NFL Draft Q&A: WR Mardy Gilyard

University of Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard went to Mobile to prove that he's one of the top receivers in this year's draft class. Find out how he accomplished his mission, which NFL teams are showing interest, how he's preparing for the NFL Combine, and much more in this exclusive interview with Ed Thompson.

Mardy Gilyard answers additional questions in this seven-minute audio clip exclusively for subscribers. Mardy talks about his Senior Bowl touchdown catch, why he opted to play in the game, and about a few of the NFL teams that showed interest in him while he was in Mobile:

Ed Thompson: Congratulations on winning the Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game Award, that had to be a big thrill.

Mardy Gilyard: I was extremely excited. I was out here with the best of the best, and Cincinnati is one of the smaller of the big schools, so with that in mind I felt like I got to let everybody know who Cincinnati was.

Thompson: Had you set any specific goals for yourself going into Senior Bowl week? Or did you approach it with the thought of just going out there and doing your best each day?

Gilyard: I told myself before I got to Mobile, "Mardy you're down here for a reason, the only reason is to prove everybody wrong." Guys like [Todd] McShay, saying I'm a small guy or a late-round guy, I don't feel that way. I've never felt that way about myself. I felt I was one of the more talented wide receivers coming into the draft because I'm more versatile. I wanted to show that even though I'm not a 6-foot-3, 220-guy, I can go out and be successful blocking guys, catching the ball, breaking tackles, and on special teams. I know I can't pay attention to the critics and I try not to, but by the same token, I wanted to shut everybody up when it came to me and my size and to show how I can be the best of the best.

Thompson: You made a terrific adjustment on a pass from Dan Lefevour for a 42-yard gain. Talk about how that play developed and why you made the adjustment you did.

Gilyard celebrates following a win over West Virginia.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Gilyard: I close the ground on corners fast. I strongly feel that if I can get any corner on their toes before they open their hips, it's over. Coach taught me how to slap that arm down and get over top of those guys, so when I got up on the corner from Kentucky (Trevard Lindley)--I was shocked that, one, he let me get that close to him, and two, I felt like he didn't respect me as a receiver. So when I got up on his toes, he just lollygagged his arm out there and I smacked it down. Then Dan put it in the perfect spot, which was that back-shoulder throw that I was expecting, because me and the guy were even. When that happened, I put the brakes on and focused on catching the ball. Regardless of what the corner was going to do, I really had to get tunnel-vision, so I locked in on the ball and that was it.

Thompson: It looked like you were having a lot of fun on the sidelines. Fill us in on what was going on during your "mock broadcast" near the end of the game with Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon and some of the other guys.

Gilyard: (laughing) I told the team when we first came in that we were like five individual fingers. And by Tuesday night, we had closed those fingers into a mighty fist. I told them this is what makes our team better than the South, they have [Tim] Tebow on that team and all the attention was shifted towards him, and that placed everybody in individual mode. When it came to our team, it was "the North Team". When it came to the South Team, it was "Tim Tebow and the South Team"--and that individualized their team. Our team became so close we were like brothers. So after Spoon made that big play, I came over and did my little ESPN deal like, "Spoon, how does it feel to get a pick in the Senior Bowl?" He said, "man it's great, just living life right now, it's always good to get the job done, we're just trying to get the job done." Then I said, "how do you feel about being around this array of guys?" And Spoon was like, "it feels great, we're going to Disney World!" And I said, "well, back to you Todd, in the booth." We really enjoyed ourselves. I gave a shout-out to McShay. I heard he was making noise about my biceps, so I just kind of giggled about it. I found out the other day that Mr. McShay wears eyeliner, so I'm going to tease him about that tomorrow when we go back on the set.

Thompson: It was great seeing you guys having so much fun while you were getting the job done. So what was it like meeting NFL teams throughout the week?

Gilyard: It was nice. It was an experience that I'll never forget and that I flourished in. It was a little stressful after the 12th, 13th, 14th interview, answering the same questions over and over, but I'd rather meet with all those teams than not meet at all. That shows interest. Some teams were telling me, "son, you're the only receiver we're talking to down here" and that was really nice. Just to sit with those teams, see those logos and hear them say things like, "you're solid." after we were done, that felt excellent.  

Gilyard's focus and good hands have served him well.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Thompson: I was very impressed with the way you interacted with fans during the week. You were very gracious, patient, and kind, making sure everyone who wanted an autograph or a picture got one before you walked away. You really seem to enjoy that aspect of being a football player…

Gilyard: I didn't get to sign for everyone, but I tried to sign as much as I could in the time they gave me before security pulled me away. I used to be one of those kids, one those fans, who wanted those top college football guys' autographs. I still don't consider myself one of those top guys--I consider myself an ordinary Joe out there playing football and enjoying myself--but people see me as a rock star and treat me like one. I like being treated like a regular guy, but I also knew it was important to those kids and those fans who wanted those autographs, so it's just something I wanted to do.

Thompson: What's ahead in the coming weeks as you prepare for the Combine?

Gilyard: The one thing I want to show everyone at the Combine is that I'm not a 4.51 guy (laughs). I'm working on my 10- and my 20-yard dash. The guys know I'm a lighter receiver--and my weight will come through my workouts and diet--so I may end up coming into the Combine somewhere between 180 and 185. I don't want to be heavier than that because I've shown I can play and be successful at the lighter weight against those bigger, heavier, stronger guys that the critics said I couldn't compete with. My speed is the only thing I really want to work on. I'm able to get DBs on their toes fast, but I want to do it faster. I'm able to run my routes, but I want to run them faster. I'm not worried about my top speed, I just want to work on getting this motor started. I have an excellent, excellent trainer in Clif Marshall with Ignition here in Naples, Florida. The last couple years the guys he's been training have been--if not the best--the top three at their position. I want to run well, jump well, catch well, and do the whole nine. I'm not too worried about my catching ability because I am catching out of Jugs everyday. I'm working on my route-running a lot, but the main thing I'm going to be working on is my straight-line speed--my 10 and 20.

Thompson: Who else is training down there with you?

Gilyard: I have my teammate, my best friend, my homeboy--he's like my brother--Ricardo Matthews. Alex Daniels, a couple of guys from Kentucky like Corey Peters. We have a starting corner from Georgia, my man B-Ham, Brett Hamlin from Buffalo, Akwasi [Owusu-Ansah] from IUP, he's a strong DB, he's going to test excellent, and Devin McCourty from Rutgers who was my roommate at the Senior Bowl. We're like a tight-knit family. If you're going somewhere, everyone's asking you where you're going and if you want someone to go with you.

Thompson: That's what you need during this grueling pre-draft process. When you have that support around you it makes a big difference.

Gilyard: Exactly. And the thing I like about Clif Marshall is that he's a man of God. Every day we pray before we compete, and that's the most important thing. Once you pray, you're so relaxed out there, you're not really worrying about times. We know we're competing for a job, but there's no jealousy amongst us. We want the best for everybody that's there.

You can follow Mardy Gilyard on Twitter (@MardyGilyard).

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You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter (@Ed_Thompson). A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at

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