Before They Were Pros: Andy Kemp

Offensive lineman Andy Kemp had some explaining to do about an East-West Shrine game incident, but he described the medical reason for missing that week of practice and talked in detail about his desire to play in the NFL and how coming from the Badgers program helps. Those were all lines of extensive questioning before Kemp became a Minnesota Viking.

On if he has any medical concerns from Combine test …

"Not too much. I know I don't have too much concern from my health standpoint."

On why he weighed in and then left the East-West Shrine game …

"I weighed in and everything like that. There was just some medical clearance that I had to take care of. Just clearance, things that happened, something with my body. But I've got that all cleared up now. Talked to all the doctors here. Everything's fine. It stunk not being able to play with the guys that I've been competing against the past few years, but I got to do some good interviews with some NFL teams while I was down there, but it kind of stunk that I had to leave. Thankfully we got everything taken care of with the medical clearance and all that and we're ready to go.

On if that was an illness …

"It wasn't an illness, it was just something to do with my neck."

More on the injury …

"It was all taken care of. There was no injury, nothing like that. It was just something I've been born with, but thankfully it wasn't anything serious and I don't think it will be a concern in the future."

On talk that he left for a Senior Bowl invite …

"I heard that too, but I had never heard of a Senior Bowl invite; I have only had East-West invitations. The only thing I said when I left was 'personal reasons' because I really didn't know the whole factor of my neck situation either. So I didn't want to tell anyone anything that I really didn't know until I got back to Madison and I actually saw some doctors around the United States."

On if the neck is something that might scare off teams …

"Actually my agent and I and a lot of doctors that have recognition around the NFL, I have met with them, we have prepared as well as we could with some cover letters and letters we could give all team doctors. A lot of them talked and said, 'You were born with this neck situation. There's nothing you could have done.' There's still no, like, crazy risk of hurting myself anymore. I think my agent and I prepared the best we could when we came here (to the Combine), so I don't think it will be that big of a deal. It didn't seem like it going through the medical evaluation."

On the first he heard of it …

"At the East-West Shrine Game. Never had anything with that at Wisconsin. Never had any situation like that."

On his other injuries …

"I broke my hand in October of '07 but thankfully that's the only serious injury. I've had so I've been pretty lucky."

On the Combine process …

"We're taking care of a lot of the medical right now. Tomorrow we will do some of the physical tests and then the following day is the big day on Saturday. But it's definitely been an honor to be here, getting to talk to a lot of players that you've seen, you've played against but finally can start talking, start that relationship that you never really got to. It's definitely been an honor, a great time so far and I can't wait to see the next two days.

On what he's done to prepare …

"It's definitely a job interview. The biggest thing is just doing the small things – eating right, working out, I've worked out at Wisconsin with the same guys I've worked with the last four years. All the running and the jumping that is going to happen in the Combine and the pro day we've worked on day in and day out. Definitely feel good. It's the best shape I've been in in a long time, so I think my body is ready. I'm mentally ready, and hopefully it's just a good day on Saturday and during the pro day."

On the mental part …

"The mental part is the biggest thing. I mean, the physical thing you have a couple hours on Saturday and one thing tomorrow, the bench press. It's mostly mental. Talking to a lot of teams, that's the biggest thing. The medical thing. It's a lot of mental, a little bit of physical so you want to keep focused, know what you have to do in the next couple of days but get through it, get a lot of sleep, get a lot of rest and just be able to do go out and give it your all in the end."

On where he needs to improve …

"I'm just here to prove that I'm kind of like that white-collar guy that doesn't need big recognition, just kind of rely on the technique and things that I've been taught in the last few years. Just want to show them that I'm a hard-working guy that loves to play football and hopes to have a career in the NFL. It started out when I was younger and through high school and everything like that. You work hard and things will pay off. I think they definitely have and that's what I'm trying to go for now."

On envisioning playing in the NFL …

"That was my goal. I set a goal when I was way younger that I wanted to play in the NFL, actually. And my mom, parents and everything kind of blew it off like every other parent did. But it was my goal and a lot of people probably thought it was a joke. Coming from middle school to high school, you can see it forming up and then through college I definitely went through some adversity there. But just kept fighting through it. I wouldn't give up. It's finally here right now, it feels great. It's definitely an honor to represent the Fox Valley (of Wisconsin) but just hope everything goes good in the future."

On other Wisconsin Badgers …

"I've talked to some Badgers like Calhoun, he's been back. Tauscher has been there a little bit. Joe (Thomas) I haven't talked to - actually one of the NFL scouts called him when I was talking to him. Just talked to guys that have been here, have been in the league. Just kind of talked about their experience."

On teams showing an interest …

"I've talked to quite a few teams. They're just trying to get to know me and I'm trying to get to know them and their coaching staff. I've definitely heard good things about myself from them so that definitely feels great. Hopefully I've stuck in someone's mind."

On projecting to the NFL …

"It's definitely a lot bigger step than college. There's a lot of guys that have been playing 10, 15 years now and becoming a rookie … I started at the bottom of the food chain when I was a freshman in college and I hope to learn as much as I can from veterans when I do come in. I think the biggest thing is just to rely on your technique, try to learn the technique that the NFL coaches are coaching. Try to learn it well and try to perfect that every day when you go to practice."

On playing guard or tackle …

"I heard guard. I know I've talked to a couple people but they said just be ready for left and right guard. I mean, most of my college career I have played left but in '07 I actually flipped to right guard for three games, so I told them that I have played mostly left but I have done some right too. They said just keep working on your right- and left-handed stance but they said they will stick me at, for sure, guard."

On playing for the Packers …

"The Packers would be great because it's the home-state team, but any team would just be a great honor. Just to become an NFL player, to be able to put on any type of NFL jersey and represent that team would just be a great honor. Just hope it works out."

On the Badgers producing good linemen …

"I think it starts with great coaching. I think we definitely had some great O-line coaches the last few years. It started with Coach Jim Hueber and then it was Bob Palcic and then Bob Bostad. We've had some great line coaches through Wisconsin and you could see it in the past. It's a big run team, Wisconsin is, and that's where the bigger offensive linemen go. For myself and Kraig (Urbik), we enjoy the run game more than the pass game and I think that's where Wisconsin can produce powerhouse offensive linemen that just love the game, love the grinding of the game, just played because of the love of the game."


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