One of the best things about writing for GBH is that occasionally I get to do something really cool. First, I got to go on ESPN and argue Johnny's case for the Heisman. This week I had the privilege of interviewing Sean Porter. We talked about the NFL Combine, Coach Jackson, his favorite memories of Aggieland, and of course....waffles.
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on Sean Porter as part of Good Bull Hunting's tribute to the 2012 Senior Class. We had a lot of fun writing that series, and each author got to pick his favorite senior. Dr. Camacho selected Patrick Lewis. ColoradoAg is a Spencer Nealy fan. I picked Sean Porter. Sean Porter personifies everything I want in an Aggie football player. He's got character, he's got confidence, and most importantly....he's really good at football.
Sean took some time out of his preparations for Friday's A&M Pro Day to answer a few questions. It was a great conversation and Sean was very professional and candid. Here at Good Bull Hunting we pride ourselves on being fans first and internet journalists second, but I did my best to restrain my inner fanboy and keep it professional.
LJ: Sean, let’s talk about the combine. What have you been doing to get ready for the draft?
SP: At the end of the season I went to Miami and I started training for the combine with Pete Bommarito. I’ve just been getting up early every day, working out all day, trying to eat good and work on stuff for the combine. After the combine I came back to College Station.
LJ: How did you feel about your combine results, is there anything you thought you could have done better?
SP: I felt pretty good about the results, other than my 40. I’m definitely a lot faster than that, I just wasn’t 100 percent at the time I was running. But we'll clean all that up on Friday at the Pro Day.
LJ: You played with Von Miller your first two years. He’s had a great NFL career so far. Has he reached out to you to give any advice on how to handle the draft process?
SP: He called me one of the nights I was at the combine. He called me kind of late at night before I had to wake up early the next day. He was just saying to be confident and be myself anytime I talk to somebody and anytime I work out. I have the film and I’ve had a good career, so he was just saying to be confident and let my own personality show through.
LJ: What was the interview process at the combine like?
SP: It was interesting. I’ve never experienced something like that before. It was kind of a whirlwind, but it was definitely enjoyable and good experience, not a lot of people get to experience something like that. Probably the coolest person I met through this whole process was Mike Singletary, it was kinda crazy sitting across the table from him.
LJ: You went to SEC media days and other press conferences; do you think your experience as with the media gives you an advantage as you head into the NFL?
SP: Just going to a big school in general and having to deal with interviews gives me an advantage. Its really not a big deal because if you go to A&M you’re gonna have to do interviews over the four years…you’re gonna do a lot of them. At A&M we take little classes about the media when we come in freshmen. They kinda teach you how to talk to the media and what you should and shouldn’t say on Twitter. Most athletes that go to big time schools are going to be well versed in that kind of stuff.
LJ: Which NFL player did you want to be like when you grow up?
SP: I’m not really sure if there is a specific player, but a player whose game I definitely liked a lot is Derrick Brooks. He’s a player I’ve watched over the years, especially when I was younger.
LJ: Is there anybody in the NFL right now that you think you compare to?
SP: I don't really think I compare to anybody in the NFL where I can say my game is just like theirs. I get that question a lot and I never really know how to answer it. I just have to say I really enjoy football, and I watch all the great players in the game. I try to take a little bit from everybody.
LJ: You played in a lot of schemes in college with three different coordinators, playing on the outside in the 3-4 and the Sam in the 4-3. What do you think you are best suited to play? What’s your favorite?
SP: I don’t really know what scheme is my favorite, but my favorite thing to do is to blitz and be in the backfield and be active and be able to make plays, so anything that allows me to do that and use my athleticism.
LJ: Coach Sumlin recruited you hard when he was at Houston, what was it like having him come to A&M?
SP: I knew a lot about him when he got here. You know he recruited me to Houston, I committed to him, and I was gonna go play for him at Houston, so I kinda already had that trust for him already. I guess it all ended up the way it was supposed to be with him coaching me in the end. It was definitely a good deal. I think it benefited my senior class, even though I thought we were already going to be a pretty good senior class. Regardless, I think him coming along definitely helped us out.
LJ: What was the difference that Coach Jackson brought to the team?
SP: Coach Jackson brought a sense of urgency that we didn’t have before. Everything he does is... I don’t want to say rushed, but it’s FAST. Really this whole entire coaching staff... everything we did was in a hurry. You have to do it right now. They expected results RIGHT NOW. We needed to hurry up and get workouts done, we needed to be big, strong, and fast, and we needed to be that right now. Everything with Coach Jackson just provided the sense of urgency that we needed. We kinda needed a kick in the butt because over the last few years, excluding my freshman year I think we had teams that could have won the conference, could have won the national championship talent wise. We just needed that kick in the butt.
LJ: You could see the improved conditioning as soon as the Florida game. You guys were thin on defense but played really hard the entire game. Coach Sumlin talked about how frustrated the players were after that game. What was that like, and how were you able to turn it around?
SP: We were really really frustrated after that game. I got a lot of flak for my interview after that game because I was pretty mad about it. I just think that we knew coming out of the summertime that we were going to be a really good team. Not a lot of people around the country knew that at that time, and not a lot of people believed in us at that time. But we knew coming out of the summer that we could beat every team on our schedule. We really thought that. So the fact that we came out and lost our first game, and it was kinda bad because we lost the way we lost games the year prior. It was just frustrating because we knew we weren’t that team anymore. We knew we were a completely different team and the culture had changed. So a lot of the guys were really frustrated and we felt we had to get it fixed right now.
LJ: Let’s talk about the Ole Miss game. That was when a lot of us as fans and writers woke up to how different this team was. Coach Sumlin talked about your reaction after that game and how you thought it was the biggest win of your career. What made it bigger than the wins over Oklahoma and Texas in 2010?
SP: To me it was bigger, because in 2010 I was a sophomore. We beat OU and Nebraska and that was kind of fun, but that wasn’t my year, that was kinda Von’s year. My senior year was very special to me. I felt like coming into my senior year I to be needed more of a leader, do this and that, be a captain of the team, and do all these different things so our team was successful. I kinda felt more involved in this one. Even though I was a starter back then I felt like I had a much bigger hand in that big win other than the other big wins.
LJ: There were a lot of great plays at the end of that game. Mike Evans catch and Johnny’s performance are a lot of what people talk about, but the real key to me was your tackle on 3rd and 2. Do you remember that?
SP: Yeah you know it was just a counter play and I read it and shot the gap and luckily I hit the guy before he hit the hole. They didn’t have a big running back so when I hit him, he went down.
LJ: There is a great video on YouTube of Sumlin celebrating in the locker room after the game. Was that pretty unusual? I know I loved it.
SP: It’s a little bit unusual. He normally walks in and kinda talks to us like he expects us to win. I think it was a little bit overboard, but I think it was needed. We needed to be excited like that for once, because we had been let down so many times. Coach Sumlin is good at knowing when to do certain things and when to act a certain way with us, and that was one of those moments. We needed that. We needed to celebrate and go crazy over the win because it had been so long since we had come from behind and beat somebody like that. We needed to kinda let out all that emotion. I think he does a really good job with the team.
LJ: You were voted the best Twitterer on the team by GBH. Is there any kind of competition to see who can be the funniest?
SP: [laughter] I wouldn’t say we let our personalities show on Twitter; it’s just where we mess around and talk to each other sometimes. We can’t really say too much because you have to be careful in front of the public eye, but every once in a while we’ll crack a joke or say something on funny on Twitter but we’re definitely not in competition.
LJ: Well then, who is the funniest guy in the locker room?
SP: I think EZ. EZ is a pretty funny guy. So EZ or Beep Beep (LeKendrick Williams).
LJ: What do you think about Nate Askew moving to LB?
SP: Nate’s an interesting guy on our team, because he’s probably been one of the best athletes on the team for the past three years but for some reason we haven’t found a way to get him in the game at wide receiver. I think the transition might be good for him but it’s definitely an experiment. Seeing that he is 6’4" 225-230 and runs a 4.3 it doesn’t really sound like a bad pass rusher to me. I think if he can learn some of the intricacies of the game of pass rushing and make that switch to becoming a defensive player he could be a surprise for us this year.
LJ: Do you ever read Good Bull Hunting?
SP: I saw the article that you guys wrote about the seniors, but other than that I haven’t been to it.
LJ: What will be your favorite memory of your time at Texas A&M?
SP: Just hanging out with these guys. Our senior class is really really close. You wouldn’t believe the guys that are so close that come from so many different places. Ryan Swope is one of my best friends, we committed at around the same time, and we’ve gone through this long journey together. Patrick Lewis, Steven Terrell, all these different guys…we’ve just gotten really close. That’s probably my best memory of college in general, how I came in with this same core group of guys and we stuck together, we all made it through the four years and we ended up leading this team into the SEC.
LJ: How do you want to be remembered among the great linebackers in Texas A&M history?
SP: I just want people to know that I played. I don’t want to be the guy that was after Von or in Von’s shadow or anything like that. I get attached to him so much that it’s kind of overkill a little bit. I just want people to remember my name.
LJ: We are trying to get a Waffle House in College Station. Are you a Waffle House or an IHOP man?
SP: Yeah man! I love Waffle House! I’d be completely open to one being in College Station, I’d go eat there all the time!
Good luck in the NFL, Sean. I'll be rooting for my Saints to take you in next month's draft, and I'll enjoy watching you play on Sundays.