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Combine Q&A with USF's Tyrone McKenzie



Writers covering the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis get transcripts from interviews with the top draft prospects, and the Times' Rick Stroud was kind enough to pass along this Q&A with USF linebacker  Tyrone McKenzie, who should be the Bulls' top draft pick in April. Receiver Taurus Johnson is at the combine as well, so we'll see if we can get his interview later ...

LB Tyrone McKenzie
Are you going to work out? Yes. I came out here to compete.
Where are you training? XPE in Atlanta , Ga.
What do you expect to run in the 40? I’m going to go out there and run as fast as I can and if I run a good time, I’ll know it because I’ll know my if my transition was smooth and if I felt that, I’ll know I did a good job.’
Who have you met with? I’ve just been talking to different teams. I talked to Carolina , the Rams, Chiefs, Bengals, Jaguars. Just talked to different teams trying to get a feel for everybody the same way they’re trying to get a feel for me.
What do you like about the process? It’s crazy, but years ago, I used to watch it on TV wishing that I could be there one day and I’m here right now so I’ve got to take it day by day and just enjoy it because it’s fun. I mean, how many times are you going to be sitting on a table in a girdle and different doctors are going to be poking at you.
Strengths? My strengths are my versatility. I can play all three linebacker positions. I’ve done it on the field. I’m a playmaker on the field. I make tackles, I’m going to make tackles for loss, interceptions. I’m going to be a sideline-to-sideline player, and on top of that, I’m a student of the game. I know what I need to do and I’m going to know what the person next to me knows what to do. Basically, determination to succeed in this league is going to help me get to the next level.
What are your thoughts about possibly being the highest-picked player ever at USF? It’s huge and it’s one of my goals. Basically, I came out here to show that I’m the best linebacker here. That’s why I’m competing, that’s why I went to the Senior Bowl because I felt I was the best linebacker in the draft. And there’s a ton of talent in this draft, so it’s a great time to go out and compete with these guys.
How was your Senior Bowl experience? I feel I proved some things. It was a great experience. Got a chance to work with coach Fitzgerald, the linebacker coach with the Bengals. I really got a chance to work on some technique so it really helped me out?
What position do teams project you in a 3-4 and 4-3? I don’t know. They’re not giving me that much. All I know is I have to meet with a team at a certain time, I have to be there and I’m going to give it my best effort.
Where are you best? Inside or outside linebacker? I enjoy playing all three. I kind of like being inside because you can be sideline-to-sideline and the football is going to come past you some way or another. I enjoyed playing the weakside as well, so where ever I’m needed, I can play it.
Why did you play at three different schools?  Basically, the situation was when I left Michigan State , I had a situation with my mother being ill. Then I stayed at home for that semester of the spring ’05 and got a job at the Hampton Inn working from 11 at night to 7 in the morning while training during the day as well. Basically, I went to Iowa State . I had a tremendous career my sophomore year, 129 tackles, second-team all Big 12. But I had to leave because it was an internal situation with my family. So, you know, I’ve been to different schools but it’s helped me become a man. I’m determined and I still graduated from college this past December.
What was it like being the man of the house? It helps you grow up. It helps you realize you have to grow up because my father died when I was nine and just being the man of the house helped me mature as a man and helped me in the situation I’m in right now, so transitioning into the NFL, I’m going to have a step on a lot of people.
Do teams ask why you played at different schools? Yes, teams ask me. Or if we’re sitting there and they realize, “Oh, so three schools?’ They ask me and I explain it to them so it’s a simple situation. After I’ve explained it, it’s over.
Can you elaborate on being a student of the game? Yes, I’m into a lot of film. You can a sk my coaches at USF. After practice I’ll be in the film room watching tape and then after I get done watching tape, I’ll be in the defensive room with the defensive coaches going over the tape so I can be a coach on the field. That’s one thing I feel is an advantage because before I started playing the game, I was a fan of the game. My first year, I was a waterboy for my Pop Warner football team. And then after my mom how dedicated to the game, she let me play the following year. I’ve always been a fan of the game and going out there is my dream and something I’ve always wanted to accomplish.
So she wouldn’t let you play the first year? No, she wouldn’t. My best friend from elementary school, he was put on a team and he told me about it. So when I went out there one day, I was like, ”This is awesome, you’ve all got helmets and everything. What is this?’ It was fun, going out there getting a chance to do it. It really helped me. I was 9 at the time. The  Brandon Broncos.
Did you light it up? Heck yeah I did. I was like, 'Yes!’ Some guy walked up to me and asked for water. I said, “I’m playing now.’

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:00pm]


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