Before They Were Pros: Ciatrick Fason

Before the Vikings drafted Ciatrick Fason, he was a Florida running back fielding questions from reporters at the combine. See what Fason had to say about his pro prospects before he knew where he was going, and about his life in college and his expectations.

ON LEAVING EARLY FOR THE NFL BECAUSE OF HIS FAMILY: "It played a big part. I really wanted to stay for one more year and try to win. I really had to put my family first. I had no other choice but to go to the NFL."

ON HIS DRAFT GRADE FROM THE NFL: "I made my decision before my grade came back. When my grade did come back, they said second, no later than the third round. I wasn't disappointed. That's what I was thinking. I came on strong my junior year so it really wasn't a big surprise. I definitely think my best
football is ahead. I didn't take too much of a load with hits when I was
in college. And I only had like 330 carries throughout my college
career, so I feel like I had a lot ahead of me."

ON COMPARING HIMSELF TO RONNIE BROWN AND CARNELL WILLIAMS: "Well, when I went out and watched the two Auburn running backs, I saw Cadillac
and the way he hits the holes and just the burst he had. I think I've
got that burst. When I watch Ronnie, he's got the power. He's a complete
back and I think I'm that kind of back. I'm that back, but I'm the two
of them in one person. They both played the last couple of years and got
their yardage and got their hype and I was just a guy flying under the
radar."

ON HIS MOST UNDERESTIMATED PART: "I think my speed. I'm a taller back at 6-foot. So when I run I have long strides. The defense will try to catch me and I'll just pull away."

ON SHARING CARRIES: "It was real tough. But they said when you go to a top university you're always going to have good players to compete with. I got in a little bit of trouble because I was being so impatient. And when my time came, I just ran away with it."

ON HOW CLOSE HE CAME TO TRANSFERRING: "It was real discouraging. I was going to try to go elsewhere and try to make a name for myself. And coach Zook gave me an opportunity when we played LSU my sophomore year and ever since then he's been putting the ball in my hands."

ON WHO HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO: "I kind of say Shaun Alexander. That's who I compare myself to the most is Shaun Alexander. When I get a chance to watch him I see what he's doing. I learned a lot from him and that's who I compare myself to. It doesn't look like he's moving, but he's running past everybody. He's real patient running out of the I-Formation. That's why I like what he does."

ON THE RB CLASS IN THE 2005 DRAFT: "I think it's real good. We don't have too many big-name players, but we're real good. We have JJ Arrington, who rushed for 2,000 yards. You've got Cadillac and Ronnie Brown. You've got Marion Barber, the two running backs from Louisville, myself. I think this is a real
good running back class. This is the best running back class I've seen
over the last couple of years."

ON EMMITT SMITH BEING THE BAROMETER TO MEASURE ALL RUNNING BACKS: "Not to me. I always liked Emmitt Smith. But I've always tried to do the
things that Walter Payton's done. I think the way Walter Payton ran the ball,
never going out of bounds, just his toughness. He had the heart.
I always tried to match myself and try to be better than Walter Payton was."

ON THE TEAMS THAT WERE SHOWING INTEREST: "I talked to a lot of teams. I know the Browns really love me. The Vikings. I talked to the Jacksonville Jaguars. A lot of good teams have shown interest. The Jaguars have said they're looking for a running back in the draft and they have the hometown thing. They invited me to go to something that all the local Jacksonville players go to before the draft. They have a little group thing they do and they asked me to show up. It's the beginning of April."

ON MAURICE CLARETT'S YEAR OFF: "It's a disadvantage. Because
sometimes when we take four months off and we're back at spring
football, those four months you get rusty. The first four weeks when you
put the pads back on, you've got to get used to it all over again. Now,
two years later, it's going to be a real strain for him to get back on the
field, but I think he can make that change if he's patient and works
hard. I couldn't imagine not playing football. I'd never sit out a year
or two."

ON BALANCING SCHOOL AND LIFE: "It was hard at first. But after my freshman year it got easier. I got a lot of help from people around campus. My
wife was working and she wasn't getting home until 3 o'clock in the
morning. And that was the hardest part because I had to stay up with the
kids. That was the hardest part. But it paid off. She was working at a
chicken restaurant and they were delivering."

ON THE STORY OF CHOOSING JERSEY No. 4 AT FLORIDA: "I always wanted to be the 34, but that was a big deal living up to it. So I said my idol was 34. The closest thing was to take the 3 out and wear the 4. I was stuck with 4. I'm hoping I can wear 34 in the pros."

ON THE GATORS OFFENSE: "In some ways I do because I feel like I could have carried it more than I did. I could have helped the team out in a lot more ways. I wish they would have thrown me the ball a lot. That would have made me a better receiver and I have good receiving skills. It could have made me a better receiver. I think if I would have gotten the number of carries that I got here I
would have gotten the same type of stats. I just think you have a lot
of great running backs and when you try to play them all at one time and
make them all happy it's going to limit you."



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