Getting to Know Your Golden Eagles

Sept. 29, 2006

Throughout the 2006 Golden Eagle Football season, a player from the offense, defense, and special teams will sit down for an interview with Southern Miss Athletic Media Relations Graduate Assistant Mallory Haynes on what you need to know about Southern Miss Football.

This week will feature linebacker Jerome Lyons, wide receiver Chris Johnson, and defensive back LeVance Richmond.

Jerome Lyons

Give us your thoughts about the season so far. "The season's going good so far. Even though we wanted to win the Florida game, it helped prepare us for our conference games. It's really good to start off with a win in the conference."

Were you more anxious going into this season compared to previous years, being that you missed all of last year due to knee surgery? "Yes. This is the season that I really want to prove myself and show everybody that I'm ready and that my knee is 100%."

How do you think Division I play differs from junior college? "It's a lot faster."

You had that great interception against Central Florida. How were you feeling at that moment? "At the time, I felt really good for the team because it was one of those big plays that brought the other team down. It was a big play."

How does it make you feel knowing that that play was the No. 5 play on Sportscenter? "Good. I saw it when I came back home and everybody else was calling me to make sure I was watching it. It made me feel really good because that was always my dream and it became a reality."

How are you preparing for Tulsa? "We've got to take it one game at a time and one day at a time. I've got to study them and get all of their formations and reads down."

How do you feel about mid-week games compared to weekend games? "Sometimes you don't get a lot of time to prepare and sometimes you get too much down time. On the other hand, it can definitely be a positive because you get to study them more and get better reads on them."

Based on your performances and the team's performances, what are your goals and expectations for the remainder of the season? "My goal is to win. I don't have any personal goals; I just want us to win. I see this whole thing as a team game."

What do you think Southern Miss has to offer over other universities? "The defensive tradition alone is amazing. We have a strong defense that is well-known for its speed. It's not about the size of the player; it's about their heart and their determination."

Which superpower would you like to have? "I have to say speed because I'm an under-sized linebacker. I would rather beat people with speed."

Chris Johnson

What do you think about the season so far? "We have started off 3-1. The most important thing is that we are 1-0 in the conference. We have to stay focused and get ready for Tulsa this week and take it one game at a time."

You had that amazing touchdown run against Central Florida. How were you feeling at that moment? "I was trying to make a play for my team. We started off kind of bad. J. Y. (Jeremy Young) sent me down the sideline, Sean (Nelson) gave me a great block and I just took it to the house."

What went through your mind once you broke that first tackle? "Get up the field. Get to the end zone."

The team tried to use the passing game a little more this game. What do you think about that change of pace, going from one gear to another with the talent you guys have? "Sometimes you are going to be called upon and sometimes you aren't. Whenever I'm called upon, I'm ready for it. We have a lot of playmakers so it's hard to give everybody touches every week. Whenever my number is called I try to be ready."

The coaches were hoping that you would step up this year and make a major contribution. Now that you have begun that contribution, how do you plan to continue? "Hopefully, I can continue to make plays and get it in the end zone for my teammates. The coaches believe in me, my teammates believe in me, and I believe in myself. We come out and just do it all together; it's a team effort more than anything."

What do you plan on doing with a degree in radio, television, and film? "Work on ESPN. I want to be a broadcaster like Stewart Scott."

What do you think about your run being the No. 3 play on Sportscenter? "All of my teammates deserve that. I heard about it but to be honest, I haven't seen it. That is a dedication to my teammates, the O-Line and the receivers and everybody gets a part of that."

Do you have any superstitions? "None"

When you're playing in large stadiums with thousands of people screaming, how do you stay focused on the game? "By being one team, we talk amongst each other and do everything as one. I try to blank everyone else out and get going."

What is your favorite Southern Miss cheer? "When we get a first down and we say To the Top."

What is in the CD player before the game? "Yo Gotti"

LeVance Richmond

How do you feel about the season so far? "It's going well so far; we're 3-1. A lot of people said that we were going to be 1-5 for the first six games. We're very proud about that."

How are you preparing for Tulsa? "It's about going to study the film. You have to get a better understanding about their strategy. You have to take it a day at a time and that's what I'm trying to do now."

The coaches have said that you have good instincts on the field. What gives you those good instincts and what do you think about them? "I think that it comes natural. I'm just able to recognize things faster. In college football you have to be aware. If you aren't aware, you'll get beat. You have to read with your eyes and learn what the coaches have told you to look out for. It's about being in the right place at the right time and that's what I try to do."

Why Southern Miss? "I came here because of the tradition of the defense. When I was in the twelfth and eleventh grades, I would watch Southern Miss on television and learn about the tradition. I knew that I wanted to play for them."

What do you want to do with a degree in coaching and sports administration? "If football doesn't work out, I want to share my knowledge with other kids. I want to coach because I have learned so much from all of the coaches that I have had in life. They have all passed there knowledge onto me and now I want to teach younger kids what I know."

If you could model yourself after one of Southern Miss' coaches, which one would it be? "I'd have to say Coach Pollard and Coach Hopson. I'll go talk to Coach Pollard and he'll tell me everything I need to know. He's a great coach. Coach Hopson is very wise when it comes to defense. He knows everything you need to know. I'm trying to learn every position because it gives you better position on the field if you know what the other guy is going to do. I definitely look up to them and hope that I can be like them."

What is your perspective on the difference between playing Division I and junior college? "The game is so much faster. Junior college is a little faster than high school and Division I is on a whole other level. When you play Division I, you have to play with awareness and speed and you have to be smart. If you miss one small assignment, you can get beat for a touchdown. You have to know everything which is why I try to study everything."

If you could be drafted tomorrow, which team would you want to go to? "I would like to go to the (Jacksonville) Jaguars, the (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers or the (Baltimore) Ravens. I want to go somewhere with a good defense. I don't even have to play right then; I just want to learn from the experienced players."

If you had a fantasy football team, what would you name it? "Richmond War Eagles"

Do you have a nickname? "They call me Vance instead of LeVance but that's about it."

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