You grew up in Killeen, Texas. What was high school football like there?
It was big, man. All the high schools had big-time stadiums; you had radio stations (broadcasting games). You even had JumboTron screens. You could watch the replays up on the screen. I had a chance to watch the games on TV during the week, too. … The whole town pretty much comes out. It's basically what you see on Friday Night Lights. It's just like that. There's not too many other things to do, and people take a lot of pride in where they're from.
Your dad was a career soldier in the Army. Was he what you'd consider a typical Army dad?
One thing he taught me was how to work hard, how to get up early in the morning and come back late but still be a father and somebody you wanted to be around. It's easy to have a day like that and come back home and be upset, but he was so consistent. He went to Iraq, but he was still the same guy. He wasn't necessarily a guy who made you walk around with his fists clenched. He's kind of like me. Just a laid-back guy.
That work ethic carries over to football, doesn't it?
Definitely. It's a never-say-quit attitude. He'd always tell me to go out there and knock some heads off. He was always a great encourager. That's one thing I think he got from the Army: Being the ultimate leader. Having to lead guys to war, that's being the ultimate leader right there. People's lives are on the line based on the things that you say and do.
One of our weekly questions is, what do you play most on your iPod?
I'm real old school. I love that old-school music. I definitely think Marvin Gaye is the greatest singer of all time. Last night, I was listening to some Lenny Williams, the Gap Band. … But I pretty much listen to it all. Down in Texas, country music is always around. I like a little bit of everything. I like to be open.
So, where did that taste for old-school soul music come from? It's not like you grew up on it.
From my dad a little, but really from my granddad. He was somebody I really looked up to as a role model. I thought he was the coolest person in the world. He'd take me for rides, and that's all he'd listen to. I was like, "Man, I want to be like him." Hearing that music really makes me think about him. When he passed away, that's when I really started listening to that music. His favorite was always Frankie Beverly and Maze. I love it.
Other weekly question: What Web site do you visit most?
I check out the (Texas) Longhorns Web site. They're doing real well. I just want to keep up. I'm fresh from that team, so I know all those guys.
When you were a powerlifter in high school, what was your most impressive feat?
What's crazy is I broke my foot in my senior year, so my best memories are from my junior year. I was only dead-lifting about 500 pounds at the time. But I remember a day where my technique wasn't really good and I wasn't having a good day. But it came down to me having to make a 200-pound jump, to a weight I had never done in my life, to make it to state. So, I went up 70 pounds over my max and I got it pretty easy. So, I put on 70 more. And before I knew it, I had 720 pounds on the dead lift. I don't know how it happened. I was amazed.
You list Warren Sapp as one of your sports heroes. Why do you feel so strongly about him?
He was just a great player. And not only that. He also really enjoyed it. You could tell he was having so much fun out there. And the guy made so many plays. From a young age, watching the Buccaneers having the dominant defense, and who else would be up in the front holding it down but Warren Sapp. From a young age, I've always wanted to wear No. 99, and having worn 99 in college, I know I didn't just pick it out of nowhere. I've been watching his tapes and cutups trying to get some of his pass-rush moves.
I'm wondering: Would you rank the Big 12 over the SEC? Be careful, this is SEC country.
That's a great question. I feel like the SEC is very strong, from Florida to LSU to whoever else in the conference. But definitely, the Big 12 holds its own, too, from the best quarterbacks in the country to the best D-tackles in the country. And besides everything else, the Longhorns are one of the best teams out there. Oklahoma's been doing their thing, too, but I'm not really allowed to say that. But we've been having a lot of ranked teams out there. I definitely would put my money on the Big 12.