Did you feel fortunate to end up in a place where there are a couple of former FSU players — Geno Hayes and Dekoda Watson?
Yeah, that was good. … It's like I already have family here. I can kind of get a feel for it. It's kind of like that couch in your living room: It's more comfortable than not knowing anyone.
Has Geno been looking out for you since you've been here?
He has. He's just told me what was right and what was wrong. It's just NFL talk.
Dekoda says you're a crazy athlete. He says you can do all kinds of backflips. What's that all about?
It's just something I knew how to do growing up. Just backflipping. It was something we learned when I was small, and we always competed at it, all the football players. After the game, we'd go out to this field and see who could do the most backflips. I was always one of the people competing. I was good at it.
It sounds like you always won, no?
No, there were some good ones out there. There was this boy named Cassius. I still remember him. I couldn't beat him. There's always somebody better.
How many flips could you do?
I think I competed with somebody and I beat him. I had, like, I think 32. He did 31; I did 32.
Don't you get tired?
Well, you get dizzy.
You remember the time Dekoda told me about when you took a spill while backflipping at Florida State?
Yeah, I remember. I didn't really get tired. I just think I got too low and my head was right on the turf.
One of my weekly questions: What's playing the most on your iPod?
One of my homeboys. His rapper name is Hot. His real name is Rodney Brown. He's real good. I know some of these guys crack on me when I'm listening to it, but I let Mike Williams listen to it and (Arrelious) Benn, and they liked him.
He's a friend from back home?
Yes. He's gonna make it. He's good. He's not one of those — I don't want to say names — but he's not one of those bubble-gum rappers. He has a talent for it.
The other weekly question is, what website do you think you visit most?
Probably worldstarhiphop.com. I get bored at the house, and they have a lot of videos and you can see what's going on in the urban world.
I know you're from Delray Beach and went to Atlantic High School. Did you play with some guys or against some guys who are in the NFL now?
I played against a lot of guys who are in the NFL now. I also played with some guys who are in the NFL. David Clowney. He's with the Panthers, who we're about to play. Also, Brandon Flowers (Chiefs), Omar Jacobs — he was a quarterback, but he's out of the league right now. Someone I played against is Major Wright (Bears); he's a safety and a rookie also. I didn't play against Jacoby Ford (Raiders), but he was from the same area. Emanuel Cook (Jets), I played against him. There's a lot of them in the league right now.
When you grow up used to playing against that kind of competition, does it give you an edge over other guys?
It does give you an edge. It's like when I go against Aqib (Talib), I know I've gone against Brandon Flowers before. I've got jammed up when I was in ninth grade. He was just killing me and making me work harder. I'm just used to competing and going against (great) talent. That does give you a little edge.
You had some issues when you were at Florida State. You had some arrests, but it seems like you've turned things around. Are you able to share your experiences with others and be an example of the right way?
I always talk to the kids back in Delray because I'm from right there. A lot of the kids look up to me. My friends look up to me. For me to go through all that, for them to see me on TV getting arrested, I mean, I never got arrested when I was down there. So, they don't even (understand). I've had to tell them, "This is what happened." You have to fight through stuff. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to learn what that reason was and take it and run with it and always have that in your back pocket.
You have a lot of perspective because you lost a lot (kicked out of FSU), and you must have a real hunger now that you have a second chance.
That drives me. Even rookies who come in who actually did the right thing, they drive me, too, because they show me where I could have been, where I could be now. But just because I was a (rookie) free agent doesn't mean I can't get back to where I think I should be if it didn't happen. I just keep striving and stop dropping kick returns (laughing) to show them they can have faith in me to do what I need to do.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.