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November 19, 2007How important is it to the seniors that this isn't the last week of football?
"It is very important. We are in the same situation we were two years ago, playing the same team, playing against Maryland. The record is almost the same and things like that. It is a lot at stake. It will be a big opportunity for us to play one more game together as seniors and as a team whole. We just have to go out there focused and just play our game, and it will be real, real good to go out there one more time with the guys at a bowl site. To be able to go out and play another game with them before our time is up."
How much tension was there in the game two years ago?
"It was a lot of tension. They were a tough physical team and they came in ready to play because their hopes and aspirations were the same as ours, to go to a bowl game. To be able to play one more game, send their seniors out with a win and be able to go and have fun and play another game somewhere. We came out physical in that game. We were ready to play, and we just had to fight the whole game to stay ahead. Two big plays by Marcus Hudson, returning an interception for a touchdown and then one of the last plays of the game, he got another interception and that kind of sealed the deal. The feeling of going to a bowl after that kind of win was just a great feeling."
You also had No.9 running out there that year?
"Yeah, that was a big help having Mario out there, just tearing up the offense and things like that. I think he ended up with three or four sacks that game."
Has the second half of the season felt like a playoff?
"Yeah, it kind of felt like that. Coming into the second half of the season, that we needed to win in order to put ourselves in a situation to be allowed to get an extra game. After the bye week, and during the bye week, we took heed to what Coach [Tom] O'Brien was telling us and practice hard, and broke down film of East Carolina and just really got focused. We went harder than we ever did in the weight room. Guys just started taking it serious, and it showed. We went out there and got a win against East Carolina, and then came back home and played Virginia and got a win on homecoming. That was big. Then we were able to go on the road down to Miami and get another win. Then we came back home and played Carolina, which we hadn't won a game since I've been here. That was three years in a row they had beaten us in close games. We were able to get one this year and a close game. It was like a playoff atmosphere in every game because if we had lost one, it would have set us back even more each game after that. We would have realized we would have to win out the rest of the season just to get a game. We're kind of in that situation now. We have to win this game to get to that ultimate goal."
Was there any kind of hangover in preparing for Wake Forest?
"I think so. I think it was just a little bit of a hangover, and it showed in the first half of the Wake Forest game. We didn't come out intense like the previous four weeks against the other opponents we had. We've waited until the second half to get things going, but by then we were behind and fighting to get back into the game. It is hard to get back into a game after you started in a hole 21 points or down 21-3. It is hard to fight uphill the whole game. When they were on offense there were just controlling the ball, running out the clock and things like that. It kind of put us under the wire."
How would you compare the 2005 team and the 2007?
"A little bit [similar], but you have different players then the people you do now. I mean it is different personalities on the team now, and people take situations differently now than we did then. We have a new coaching staff and they bring a different vibe to the team and things like that. It is kind of hard to compare the two seasons."
How have you developed as a wide receiver?
"Working with them and listening to them, from day one since they have gotten here, and I'm just trying to develop as a receiver. I've switched up my style because I wasn't used to going out and letting a wide and catching deep balls and things like that. I was more used to catching passes coming of the backfield and things like that. It is a little bit more easier and quicker passes and catches. Now I am trying to fight defenders off that are standing two inches away from you, getting on you, grabbing your jersey, and things like that. It is kind of hard running down the field and then looking back and try to catch deep balls and things like that. Just working with Coach [Dana] Bible and listening to him, and working with Daniel Evans, the work is starting to pay off. I'm starting to get more and more comfortable with the position."
Have you ever regretted moving from tailback?
"No. I'm having fun out there at receiver and playing with the guys that I'm getting to play with, John Dunlap and Donald Bowens and those guys. It is just fun out there. I got to learn a lot and I got an opportunity to learn a new position. I don't have no regrets about it."
Do you feel like you play your best game of the season?
"Not really, I mean there's always more work to be done. If I get the opportunity and things like that, I'm sure that I could do better than what I did. We have so many weapons on our team at different positions. I just can't really count on myself or tried to put the spotlight on myself to try to do it because we have players like Donald Bowens that can go out and do just about the same thing, catching the deep balls. He is really opening some eyes with his performance out there. Jamelle [Eugene] stepping in with the injuries we have had at running back, and he has been one of the workhorses that kind of took the team on his back and grinded his way through it."
Why have you been one of the most successful returners in NC State history?
"I think because of a determination. Hard work and just sheer determination to try and make something happen. Then kind of watching the older guys when I was a freshman. Kind of watching them, trying to do some of the things that they did, watching what they did during practice and in the games, and things like that. That kind of helped me to a lot."
Who were some of the old guys that you watched a lot?
"Tramaine Hall, Lamont Reed, Brian Clark, a lot of them guys. They kind of give me tips. After Traimaine left, he came back and gave me some tips on how to catch the ball more easily on punt returns and things like that. What coaches and scouts are looking for in players catching punts. I just worked on it and listened to Coach [Mike] Reed this year, on always keeping my eyes on the ball and my elbows in tight and things like that. That really helped."
What is one tip that Hall gave you?
"Just catch the ball first basically. That is one of the big things he learned right off the bat when he was catching. Catch the ball first and make sure you got it and then worry about guys missing and making a play."
Have you ever been to Boise, Idaho?
"No, never been there."
Would you like to?
"If the opportunity comes, yeah, I'd like to go. If it is for another football game? Yeah."
Have you ever been to the Little League World Series?
"Yes, when I was younger, I used to go there and watch a few games. Just to go. I never played little league baseball. I would watch kids play baseball at a level like that. Just to go out there and showcase their skills, it was real exciting."
How does it compare to a game out here?
"Not as physical, but it is just as exciting as out here. All of the parents and fans out there are rooting for them. They are trying so hard, just like we are trying so hard out here to get the job done. It is just real competitive out there."
What was it like to experience the community there?
"They go out there, and the community, even when one of the kids is coming from across seas and other countries to come here and play and things like that, it just kind of opened my eye. They get the national exposure at that young, and showcase their talents. For me to come out here and play on a national level at a D-I program at NC State that is like an opportunity that if you can get it, you might as well take it. It only comes around because not everybody gets to do what we are doing."
Would you like to go to Charlotte again?
"If it is to play another game, just about anywhere. If we could go play another game just about anywhere in America, I'm willing to go."
Have you ever played on a blue field?
"No, but if we can get there, if we can get this last game, then it will be my first."
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