Nov. 29, 2005
Throughout the 2005 Golden Eagle football season, a player from the offense, defense and special teams will sit down for an interview with Southern Miss Athletics Media intern Mallory Haynes on what you need to know about Southern Miss football.
As the only sophomore on the offensive line, how well do you think you play next to the juniors and seniors on this line?
"I feel like I contribute a lot to the team. Being a young guy, it motivates me more to push harder and work harder. I'm trying to be the best player I can be everyday."
What makes this year's "Battle for the Bell" different than the past with this rivalry?
"Because of the hurricane (Katrina). We're both good teams, and the hurricane ruined a lot of our chances. For the Alabama game, we had to practice in Memphis. Both teams have been messed up. Both teams are playing for something right now, so it really has an effect this year."
Tell me something about yourself that nobody knows.
"I just turned 20."
What does it mean to you to be a Golden Eagle?
"It means everything. Being a Golden Eagle, we have to fight for everything we earn. I've been struggling all of my life. I came from a high school where we only had one set of jerseys. I think that the Lord has given me a chance to play at Southern Miss and be a Golden Eagle. It means a lot to me, and I thank the Lord for this opportunity."
Who is the best offensive lineman in the NFL?
"Willie Roaf (Kansas City Chiefs). I've always looked up to him because I'm from New Orleans, and he used to play for the Saints."
What is your favorite television show?
"Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Jamie Fox Show."
What do you do to relax after a rough practice or a big game?
"Just lay down in my bed and talk to my girl."
What other sports do you enjoy playing?
"I love basketball. It's either basketball or football."
If you could change one rule in the game of football, it would be...
"I would change the rule about face masking. I think anything should go on the offensive line."
Which jersey do you like to wear the most, black or white?
"Black on black. All black does something to me. I get in the mood to hit somebody or hurt somebody. When we put on all black, it means something. Hopefully we'll get to wear it more next year."
Rate your performance since stepping in for Gerald McRath early in the season, and how you are playing now?
"I was forced into having to play. It's my job to be ready, and mentally prepared. I think I've done alright. I could have done a little better, but I just treat it as a learning experience for me. It gets better as it goes."
What is a "linebacker's" Thanksgiving meal?
"Turkey, turkey, turkey. Dressing, dressing, dressing. And orange juice."
What attracted you to USM?
"I like the environment. It's a real family-oriented environment; a real close-knit group. I felt like it was the perfect fit for me."
What was the week of practice like leading up to the Tulane game?
"Everybody has had a sense of urgency. We were going to fight for a bowl bid. We wanted a winning season and to get our seniors out of here on a winning note."
You know you're a "big-time" team in college football when your school graces the cover of what magazine or newspaper?
Who is the most interesting player on the team?
"Gerald McRath. He's cool, but he's got a thing with color coordination...it throws me off. From his hats, to his socks, to his shoes, everything."
What qualities does Southern Miss athletics have that make our school so appealing?
"We're surrounded by good people. We've got good coaches and great players. Everybody knows that we've got something good here, and we've got to keep it going."
If you could switch positions with another teammate, who would it be and why?
"Free safety. You don't have an assignment."
Which coach would you like to see playing next to you?
"Coach Pollard (Linebacker and Special Teams Coach). I see him everyday. He's a good coach. Being a former linebacker, he brings something to the table. I know that he would fight just as hard as I do, if not harder."
What is your proudest sports moment?
"When the coaches put me in Gerald's spot when he went out. They trusted me enough to put me in the fire, and get the job done."
How do you feel about this season since its coming to a close?
"There were a lot of close games that we should have won, and we haven't done as well as we wanted to, but we've had a good season."
As a fullback, would you rather carry the ball or smash into opponents, creating a hole for another ball carrier?
"Run the ball. It's my dream; I did it in high school. I love smashing people too. I get a thrill out of it and get real excited."
As a fullback, do you have to have a defensive mind-set; hence the easy transition for Wayne Hardy from fullback to linebacker?
"Not necessarily. You've got to be able to read the defense, and you've got to have a nasty attitude to play fullback."
Along with football, you also throw the discus for the Southern Miss Track and Field team. So can we expect to see a fullback option pass being used in the near future out of the Southern Miss playbook?
"I hope so. I'm going to leave that up to the offensive coordinator."
With football taking up your fall, and track taking up your spring, when is Bobby Weakley's off-season?
"I don't have an off-season; it's year-round. My only time off is the week after football. After that, I start track."
What's the greatest thing about being a college athlete?
"People that you've never seen before come up and say, 'Good job.' Seeing the smiles of kids coming up to you to get an autograph. There's nothing else like it. Playing in the NCAA is exciting."
From a fan's viewpoint, what do game days at the Rock offer that make it unique?
"The fan base. The student body and everyone else has a good time. We have a tradition to win. There's nothing like playing in the Rock. It's an exciting atmosphere."
How do you feel about your performance this season?
"It's alright, but I feel like I could have done better. As a college athlete, you try to get better each time you go out there. I always set my standards high, and try to improve each game."
Which factor do you think is most important about winning the Tulane game: going to a bowl or having a winning season?
"Having a winning season. Not that many teams can say that they have had 12 consecutive winning seasons. It's especially the most important thing for our seniors. The bowl is special too, but it will take care of itself."