Texans Transcripts | NFL Draft picks 


Did getting drafted by your hometown team ease the pain of not getting drafted in the first round?

"I had pretty high hopes of being in the first round. That's kind of what my goal was – late first, early second. Unfortunately I didn't go in the first, but I'm beyond excited to be able to come back home and play for my hometown and just to be able to do good things for this city and play great football. I'm just excited."

What was it like at home with your family when you got the news?

"It was crazy, just amazing emotions. We had a little feeling. I said right before they called, I said, 'Houston is about to call,' I just had that feeling and then I was talking to Bill O'Brien."

You talked last week about visiting the Texans facility for the first time. What are your thoughts about joining the Texans for good?

"It's amazing how God works. Like I said, I've never been around the Houston facility like that for the first time. It was amazing just to be there and now it's going to be home so I'm going to be there quite often. It's even better that I'm only 20 minutes up the road. My family will be able to come watch me play. I'm lost for words. It's just amazing."

What will you bring to the table as a defensive lineman?

"I bring physicality, I bring passion, I bring leadership, I bring just relentless effort. I just want to be able to be the best I can be. My potential is through the roof just like anybody else's would be, and I just want to be able to make sure I can reach that potential and more, and just keep growing and improving as the years go by."

What do you think about your ability to rush the passer?

"I think it will be a different transition. In the Big 12 it was more passing than running, so just coming in and transferring to a new scheme, new system and new level. I think I'll get the hang of it once – practice makes perfect. Each day I'm just going to get better and better and just improve my technique and pass-rush abilities and things like that."

What do you think you were able to get better at during your sophomore season in 2018 when you were out with an injury?

"Just learning, just being more of a football player when my time when my time is out, being more of a student of the game. I spent more time in film even though I couldn't be there most of the time because due to my injury I couldn't walk for a while. Once I got back I was always active with the guys, I was always watching film with them as if I was still playing that season, just another coach on the side, just kind of improving those young guys, let them get better. Missing out on that season helped me mentally develop as a player."

What was it like growing up with a father that played for the Harlem Globetrotters, and what made you choose football over basketball?

"It was really fun growing up. My dad, he's a pioneer, he's a walking legend. He doesn't talk about it as much as I do. Growing up with him, basketball just wasn't my first love. Football was always my first love. I thought basketball was just too soft for me. I always used to foul out when I played AAU and stuff like that. I think my dad created a legacy in basketball for our family, so I think I was meant to do it for football. I'll be the first person in my family to be in the NFL, so this is a pretty good start for me."

How were your interactions with the Texans during the draft process?

"The workout went really good. I spent the day with the coaching staff and stuff like that. I enjoyed it, being able to go through the playbook and learning new things and just being able to walk around the facility. It's nice. It's a really nice place. I enjoyed it, man. I really did."

What is meaning behind the "Underdog Mentality" hoodie and chain that you are wearing?

"It's my brand. It's kind of my logo and my lifestyle that I live as an athlete. Just like Nike, just like Adidas, whatever the case may be, it's something I want to represent athletes. Kind of the – that fits with it is as an athlete people always has opinions on you as a player or – just critics or whatever. Trust yourself as a player, believe in yourself and let your work speak for itself and for the results, and stuff like that. I wanted to create something for athletes that they can relate to. Everybody has potential. The sky isn't the limit, you can go beyond in how high you want to go in life. That's kind of what it represents."

Did you have a favorite Texans moment that stands out to you?

"I'm trying to remember what year it was. It was way back when Brian Cushing was playing and Andre Johnson. I think it was a playoff game, I can't remember. It was the one game I actually went to as a kid. I was sitting in the suite and I saw it, and it was a really good game. I can't remember, but I know it was a good game. I would say the best was probably recently, like when I was watching the Texans this past season at Pappadeaux, and it was going crazy. I forgot who we were playing, but we beat them at the last minute and we played the Chiefs the next week, but unfortunately we didn't win. I think that was one of my favorite Texans moments because the whole energy in the restaurant was crazy. It was amazing, but I think that was my best moment."

What are your thoughts on playing alongside DE J.J. Watt?

"He's an idol of mine. I try to mirror my game after his, so it's going to be surreal just being able to play next to a legend like that. I just want to be a sponge and gain as much knowledge as I possibly can and continue to grow."

What would you like to accomplish in your rookie season and where do you get your maturity from?

"I get most of that maturity from my father, my parents. I grew up in a great home, they taught me well. I would say being 21 coming into the league where there's a lot of grown people out there – it's a grown man's game, it's a grown business. I just try to keep my head on straight, stay focused on what's important and just do the right things, play good football. Things like that."

Where does this moment stack up in all of the special moments you have had in your life?

"This stacks up at number one, definitely. I don't know if something can top this, but this is just amazing. I'm really lost for words, but I'm just excited and ready to get to work. This is definitely one of the top moments in my life, highlight of my life, knowing that I worked so hard to get to this moment and it's here."

How do you think you are going to fit in the Texans defense?

"I think I'll fit pretty good in the Texans defense. I come from a school where we run a lot of fronts, play a lot of crazy defenses. Anybody knows that TCU football, we play a weird defense but it works. Coach (Chad Glasgow)'s been running it for so many years. I think it's helped a lot since I come from TCU and I'll be in a scheme like Coach (Anthony) Weaver's and it'll be much easier and I can focus more about just attacking more. We read more in TCU's defense so I think it'll be a good fit, a good transition."


What is your reaction to joining the Houston Texans?

"Just to be even considered in this category with these guys, to be on the same team is a huge blessing and an honor. I'm going to come working hard, have my same mentality I had in college and high school, just to be an underdog mindset and learn from the greats, soak up all the knowledge that they have and the wisdom, so that way I can be successful just like them."

Are you surprised that the Houston Texans chose you today?

"I'm surprised at all just to be drafted, but I had a couple encounters with them. I kind of had them high on my list as far teams that would possibly pick me up. When I saw their name come across the screen, I kind of had a feeling that they would call and then God willed it. But this is my opportunity coming out, and I'm just going to take advantage of it."

What do you think is your biggest strength as a player?

"My biggest strength is just my knowledge of the game, my natural instincts, just having a knack for the ball. Things I'm going to work, just overall being at the top of my pass rush just to make sure that I get my pass rush and my sacks a lot more easier, to make my job easier when I come off the edge and working a move and the finding the secondary move on top of it. Just things that I can learn with experience, just the overall technique work."

What did you gain out of your graduate transfer year at Florida?

"Well I'm actually only 18 credit hours away from getting my MBA, so that's number one. But other than that, just learning – playing at a faster pace, playing in the best conference, the SEC ball. Just playing against the top-notched guys day in and day out, going to practice and enjoying the life of an SEC athlete and learning more about the game of football with Coach (Todd) Grantham and Coach (Dan) Mullen. I couldn't ask for a better situation going into my last year of football."

Are there any guys in the NFL that you pattern your game after?

"J.J. Watt is always an exceptional guy that I always used to look at, watch film on. We kind of work similar moves. I did dip-rip kind of move a little bit, kind of use our get-offs to our advantage and getting the corner at the top of our rushes, and switch it up and go power as well with our bull rushes. So, I've always watched him and then to be a part of this organization and be with him and guys like Whitney Mercilus as well, those will be guys that I definitely will soak up a lot of knowledge and wisdom from."

When you transferred from Louisville to Florida and continued your high level of play in the SEC, what do you think that said about you as a competitor?

"That no matter what the situation or what I've done in my past, it doesn't matter. I'm always going to work hard, I always feel like I have something to prove in being the underdog. Having that mindset and that chip on my shoulder all the time – I carry it anywhere I go just make sure my [Inaudible]. I'm going to try to do the same thing when I come to Houston and hopefully I can have that same impact coming in."

Is it going to be easier playing in a 3-4 scheme, or is it going to be easier to rush with your hand in the dirt?

"I feel pretty comfortable in both a three-point and a two-point stance. Definitely for me, I've done it all my college career and I feel like I'm pretty comfortable on both sides so I don't feel like it will be any adjustments. I definitely just have to continue to build and go off of my technique. All it is at this point in time is the technique standpoint."

Have you been to Houston before and are you looking forward to living here?

"I've always been a guy that's wanted to go. I've never been to Texas. Well, I've been there one time. We played the University of Houston and went down there one time and that was the closest thing I've been since then. I didn't get to really go into the city much, obviously, being in college. But just to be in the city, being in the state, being in this organization, it's everything you can ask for as a pass rusher."

When you say you are proud of your knowledge of the game is that a film study thing, or does it just come from what you see on the field?

"I've been playing ball since I was four years old so pretty much just years of watching football, playing football, different positions on the offensive side and defensive side gave me a little taste of what to expect from offenses and defenses. All that kind of just ties together and watching film as well. My father had me watching film when I was five, six years old playing running back. So, just carrying that on throughout my career to this point is definitely going to continue to help me."

When you think about your journey, what kind of emotions do you have now that you're in the NFL?

"Man, it's crazy. I'm not supposed to be here. It's one of these situations where I'm just blessed to be in this situation. Now I'm in the NFL, something I've been dreaming about since I was a kid. Now it's finally here, so I'm just thankful. This is only the beginning. This is the first step to where I want to be. I've got a long way to go, a lot to learn, so I'm ready. I'm just ready to work."


Did you feel like the Houston Texans had a lot of interest in you throughout the draft process?

"Those guys, they kept in contact with me throughout the draft process. I met with them at the combine and I had FaceTime calls with them as well. It was great. Great chemistry and I just felt like it's a great fit, us two being paired up together."

What do you feel like you bring to the table as a wide receiver to this team?

"I would say I'm just coming in ready to work. I'm hungry, eager to just learn. I just want to help any way I can, whether that's on special teams or a role in the receiving room. I'm just trying to help those guys out and help them get to where they want to be at."

Do feel like you are best suited playing as an outside receiver or an inside receiver?

"In college, I was mainly just outside because the receiver depth wasn't that big. So, I was limited to just playing outside. I feel like I could play inside or outside, I would just have to lock in and learn the plays from different spots on the field. But I feel like I could play anywhere if given the opportunity."

What do you attribute to the big jump that you had in your college career at Rhode Island?

"I would just say taking my craft serious in the offseason. Not taking a lot of time off, just really digging into my weaknesses and just trying to improve and get better, whether it's in the film room watching – just seeing little things that I could do better. Of course, my route running, just getting in and out of breaks. So, I would just say taking my offseason serious and just loving football, wanting to be better each and every year."

How do you think you'll handle making the jump from college to the NFL?

"I feel like I'll handle it great. I play with a chip on my shoulder. I'm ready to just come in and help any way I can. I'm not really looking at is as though I'm – I know I'm coming from a smaller school and all, but I'm just ready to play. I feel like once you get on that level, you've got to prove yourself at that point. So, I'm just trying to prove myself and put my best foot forward."

Some of your biggest games in college were against FBS teams. Did you have a chip on your shoulder playing those bigger schools and did you feel like you took your game up a notch?

"You've got to get up for games like those, especially coming from the conference that I came from, you don't really get a chance to play a lot of those bigger schools. Just embracing the opportunity and proving yourself. Everybody can play at any level, I feel like. If you get your chance, I feel like you've got to take advantage of it. I was just trying to take advantage of my opportunity and show them that I could play a little bit."

Are there any NFL players that you model your game after?

"I wouldn't say I pattern my game after any particular receiver. I like just to watch a lot of great receivers in the league in general – quick, twitchy guys or guys that can separate at the top of their routes. I wouldn't name just any one receiver. I feel like playing that receiver position is hard and if you have something in your game that I like, I try to just take it away and try to add it into mine."

Your initial thoughts on your interactions with Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien and Wide Receivers Coach John Perry?

"Great guys. Really eager to have me and work with me, just trying to get me up to speed with those guys at that level. I would say I'm just grateful for the opportunity. I thank those guys. It's just great right now. I can't even describe it, but I appreciate those guys for believing in me and seeing something in me. I hope to make those guys proud."

Has it sunk in that you'll be catching passes from QB Deshaun Watson, and how much have you watched of him?

"It hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe later tonight it'll sink in. I've been watching him since he played at Clemson, so that'll be pretty cool just to catch passes from him. I'm just ready to get to work."


What is your reaction to being drafted by the Texans and can you talk about football being a big part of your family?

"It's a dream come true, it's been a dream of mine since I can remember, going with my dad to football games. To play for a team like the Texans – I'm still speechless right now. Football has been in my family a long time. My dad played, he's a coach now, so it's kind of been in my blood growing up. Just watching all these teams, I couldn't be happier to be a part of this organization."

What advice have you gotten from your dad, Chiefs Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck, on how you can prepare for your rookie season?

"It's just put your head down and grind. It's still going to be an opportunity. We're hoping we can get into camp here and you've just got to show up prepared and just put your head down and work. That's what it's all going to come down to, and I'm looking forward to that opportunity."

How have you worked out and stayed in shape during this pandemic?

"There's been a lot of home gym workouts. It's been everything from prescribed workouts from my brother, who's a strength coach at UNC, to riding my mom's Peloton bike down in the basement. So, it's been everything. Luckily I've been in the position to have a pretty good home gym, so I've been able to really kind of stay in shape. Other than that, it's been going to an empty field and just working on being a football player."

Given that you played right and left tackle in college, how comfortable are you with the transition to the NFL?

"I think that's helped me, being able to play at both positions. That's really something important that I've been working on, is just being able to interchangeably go back and forth with those positions, just feel completely comfortable, get your hips used to it. That's something I've been working on."

Are you trying to put on some added weight as you enter the NFL?

"Absolutely. I think as I get older, I'm going to naturally try to put on that good weight. I'm about 311 right now, so I'd be happy showing up anywhere between 310-320."

What was it like watching your father, Chiefs Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck, with everything that they accomplished last year, and what will it be like to play against the Chiefs if that opportunity comes?

"It will be an exciting opportunity. Like I said, it's been in our family so I was really proud of my dad last year and he's really proud of me now. He's excited to watch my journey and I'll also keep up with his journey also."

How much harder will the transition to the NFL be with the limitations of the pandemic?

"It's just about making the most of the opportunity that you have. Nobody can change what's going on right now, so it's just taking advantage of what I can control. That's just me working on myself, bettering myself any way I can. That's really what I've been doing during this."

What were your interactions like with the Texans during the draft process, and what do you think ultimately made them comfortable with selecting you?

"I think they know what they're getting. They're going to get a hardworking guy that's going to come in there and give it his all. He's going to have room to grow as a player, comes from a football background and knows what it's all about and what to expect. I think during this pandemic, some opportunities were maybe given away for in-person meetings but I still think they were able to figure out who I was as a person."

Is there anyone in particular that you model you game after?

"Every game I'm watching, I'm watching one of those tackles right now. I'm a big fan of a lot. I know the Texans have a really good one themselves, so it's going to be really fun to kind of come in there and learn from that group of O-linemen, and I'm really looking forward to it."

In terms of learning, when you look at tape what do you see from the Texans offense and how do you feel like your skillset matches well with the things they do?

"I think I'm a player that has a lot of room to grow. I think I'm a player that can play a few positions, who can play both tackle spots. As I kind of develop under the Texans coaching staff, I think I'll just continue to get stronger and better. I think it's a really good fit for me."

What are your thoughts on QB Deshaun Watson, and what kind of one-liners have you heard with your last name over the years?

"You're going to get 'What the Heck' from somebody. That's always there. Deshaun is an unbelievable quarterback. He's one of the most fun guys to watch, so I'm super excited."


The Texans have a lot of connections to Penn State on the coaching staff. Did you have a lot of contact with them and did you have a good feeling that they would be a team that could select you? Also, what do you bring to the table as a corner for this team?

"I definitely felt like this was a team I could land on. Coach (Bill) O'Brien recruited me when I was in high school. I knew a couple of guys here. One of my best friends, Todd Jones (Jr.), is a scout here too, so I definitely felt like this was a possibility for me. I feel like as a corner, I think I just bring a bit of versatility that I've shown on film, inside and outside. I've played special teams, I've done a lot in the return game and stuff like that, so I think I'm versatile player that I can kind of be played a bit everywhere."

What did you do at your internship at Blizzard, and what were some of the video games that got you interested in video games so much?

"I guess I come from a bit of like a software engineering background. I've been doing coding since I was in high school. For me, it was like the first thing I found outside of football that was relatable in the case that I could work really hard at it, it's really detail oriented and you can constantly see results if you put the work in. So at Blizzard, I did the same thing. I did software engineering, I did front-end and back-end web development. It was a great experience there."

What kind of workouts have you been doing and how have you stayed in shape during this pandemic?

"A lot of stuff at home as far as lifting. I've got like a dumbbell set. One of my dad's close friends who's pretty much like my uncle, he has a barbell and everything like that at his house, so I can use that. As far as the running, you've kind of got to work out a lot of times at night, just because they don't really want you on the fields, especially right now in New Jersey. But anyway, whether I'm running out in the street – I've got a basketball court up the street from me that I can sprint to and sprint back a bunch of times to stay in cardio shape. Then as far as my footwork, you don't really need too much grass to get your footwork in as a corner, so make sure I always do that."

How much did you get to know Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien during the recruiting process, and what is it like having him draft you into the NFL?

"I had a few conversations with him when I was being recruited just when I was on campus and things like that, and then I just heard all of the respect that the players had for him. There were still a lot of players there that had been coached by him when I came in as a freshman. All they ever spoke about was just the respect that he had for all of the players and how much they liked him as a coach."

What do you feel like you bring to the Texans from a skill standpoint, and how difficult do you think the transition will be for you from college to the NFL?

"I think I'm a player that has really good footwork, I think I'm really explosive and I take a lot of pride in my preparation. I think at the next level it's going to be great to have a room full of people in the secondary that have played a ton of years that I can learn a lot from, and I'm going to make sure that I try to take as much knowledge I can from them as soon as I get there to kind of speed up my process and that learning curve similar to how I did in college. I just came in and put my head down and I worked. I made sure I learned from the older guys that were here to help me improve as a player."

Are there some players in the NFL that you've watched and molded your game after?

"I've watched a ton of guys, especially I've seen guys like Chris Harris (Jr.) who play inside and outside. I've watched a ton of years of when Jason Verrett first came in the league, I watched a lot of Tre'Davious White last year. I watch a mix of guys depending on what I was looking for. Like last year, we played a lot of cover three and things like that and I wanted to be able to press-bail better, so I would watch guys like Tre'Davious White who did that. So, I'm usually pulling certain clips to try to take pieces of everybody's game that I can, but make sure that I have my own identity also."

How did you balance your challenging college course load and playing football?

"I graduated this past December. What I learned the most is for me, even since I was a kid growing up, kind of when I put my mind to something I'm going to do everything I possibly can to accomplish it. I'm not going to make any excuses, and I kind of go into things knowing it's going to be really hard, but if you really want something bad enough, you make the sacrifices. I feel like you can do it. It definitely wasn't an easy road. I failed some classes and stuff like that, but I never let it affect me. I always learned every time I didn't do well at something and I feel like that's what allowed me to be able to accomplish that while playing football."

Can you tell us about your love of film watching and how you approach the cerebral aspect of the game, and what does it mean to be the first Penn State player that Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien has drafted?

"I definitely watch a ton of film. It's kind of a habit I've had since I was a little kid. When I was a little kid in pee wee, I used to watch Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and all of those guys because I played running back. My father used to always tell me, if you want to be really great, you need to watch other people that have done it before and try to take little things from them. Over time that just evolved to not only studying great players, but then studying offenses, studying how they're looking to attack certain defenses and things like that. As far as being the first Penn State guy for Coach O'Brien to draft, I'm just really grateful to Coach O'Brien and the McNairs for giving me this opportunity. This is something I've worked for my whole life, so I'm just really grateful for it."

Tell us about the story where you missed a recruiting barbeque to study film?

"Throughout my recruiting process, I really wasn't so much a fan of kind of the – they kind of want to hype your head up, tell you how great you are. For me, it was more about learning and getting better. I feel like, as good as it is to hear those compliments, those things at the end of the day aren't going to be what allows you to improve. So, for me when I was being recruited, I was really looking for a school that I felt like would play a certain style of defense that I was looking forward to and what type of coaches I'd be coached by, and how they coach their schemes. So, instead of actually doing the barbeque, I asked the defensive coordinator at the time, Coach (Bob) Shoop, I was like 'Coach, I don't mean to be disrespectful or anything but if you have some time I would rather go upstairs and watch film to see what you guys actually run and where I could be potentially playing at.' So, we went upstairs and watched that, and he kind of went through to me how he coached different techniques, and I could kind of get a feel for his coaching style and things like that. It became what I was comfortable with, so it was one of the reasons I ended up choosing Penn State, because they kind of knew I was all about football and not so much about the recruiting. That's the way they kind of recruited me, through allowing me to see how they play certain things. So, for me I've always just been interested in football. That's just my love for the game, I guess."

Will you be studying film on the three AFC South quarterbacks?

"I guess right now – this is a whole new process for me, so I'm not even sure how it works as far as when we get our film and when we get access to that. I know that the main thing that I think is when I first get the film is trying to make sure I get down our playbook and things like that first, and then take each thing one at a time. Right now, I feel like as soon as I come in it's going to be making sure I get down the plays and understanding what I'm doing on the defense first."

What do think about playing on the same side of the ball as DE J.J. Watt?

"I'm excited. I know me and my friends used to always just talk about the plays he made. One of my best friends at Penn State, his name is Shaka Toney, he plays defensive end. So, we've already watched clips on the plays he's able to make, the way he's able to use his hands and stuff like that, just his technique. Just like me, Shaka could watch a certain player and kind of see what he can take from their game. He's one of the players we talked about. I'm excited."

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