You and (Bucs cornerback) Anthony Gaitor were on the same high school team, Miami Northwestern. Who was the better player then?
Well, he already had his name out there, so I would say he was at the time. He wore No. 1 on our team. He was on the map.
Gaitor's class went out with a state championship. Did that set a pretty high standard for your class the following year?
Oh, yeah. That year, when I was a junior, we had a lot of juniors who contributed to that state championship team. So we had really high expectations with the same guys as seniors. It was great. We won the state championship my senior year, too. But I really think my junior year was better. We had eight shutouts that season. It was kind of unbelievable.
You had to go to junior college before you went to Nebraska. Was that disappointing? And what did you learn?
I wasn't disappointed. I did feel like I let myself down, though. It was because of academic issues. I just told myself I should've done a better job in the classroom, gotten higher test scores. It was on me. I couldn't be mad at anybody else. Junior college was rough. It humbled me. Coming from Miami, a big city, and then going to a small town in Kansas, not knowing anyone, that was hard. But that kind of helped me out, too. I was able to just focus on football. Everything just worked out.
I guess it was a lot different than a (Division I-A) school.
My junior college was fortunate enough to have dorms and nice classrooms, and they fed us. But the food, man, it wasn't all that great. And our scholarships were iffy. You would have to come out of your own pocket sometimes. It was kind of rough. But I learned I can stay focused. I set goals, and I (achieved) them.
These are my weekly questions. First, what is playing the most right now on your iPod/iPhone?
I always press random. But I do like a lot of R&B. I just bought the new Trey Songz album.
What website do you visit the most?
I would say WorldStarHipHop. com.
What reality show do you watch most regularly?
I always watch Tiny and T.I. (which features rapper T.I. and his wife). I think it's a nice family show. I'm not a big reality TV fan. That's probably the only one I watch. Once I get home, I like watching cartoons, actually.
Cartoons? Which ones?
I like Family Guy, American Dad, those kinds of shows.
What's your favorite one?
Who's your favorite character?
Stewie. Oh, and Peter.
You linebackers like to have fun. Which veteran gives you, as a rookie, the most grief?
I would say Adam Hayward. He's always messing with me.
Who has been your biggest role model?
I would definitely say my parents. I just appreciate them giving me life and staying on top of me and for keeping me humble.
Did all of that come to fruition on draft day?
Yes. I think my parents are my biggest fans, actually, through bad or good. I gave my mom a big hug, and I shook my dad's hand and hugged him. He just told me, "Now don't stop here."
What about the rest of your family?
I have two brothers and a sister. I'm the youngest.
So you're the baby. Were you spoiled?
No, but everybody says that. They used to watch me when I was little. We all get along great, though. They all came to the game last week, and it was great. I had my brothers, my sister, parents, aunts, friends, everybody. It felt great to come out (of the locker room) and see them and get hugs from everybody. They got to watch me live out my dream. They were so proud. But in the end, nothing changed. I'm just the same guy to them.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org