Bucs Nation Exclusive Interview with Najee Goode

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Najee Goode #52 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates after they won 70-33 against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)


Over the course of the offseason, BucsNation will be attempting to bring you some exclusive content that you can't find anywhere else on the web. We have set up a few interviews with some of the 2012 draft picks so that our readers can get to know their newest "Buccaneer Men".

Here's the first interview in this series. Lee Caswell (Leecaz) spoke with Buccaneers' fifth round draft pick Najee Goode. Here's what he had to say:

LC: Did you have any clue that the Bucs were going to draft you? Did you get invited to any pre-draft workouts in Tampa?

NG: "No, I didn't. I was leaning towards another team that I was thinking that was going to draft me. They had talked to me and said they recognized me on film. I had actually talked to the (Bucs) scouts in the morning on the third day of the draft, but I kind of didn't think too much of it. You know, because a lot of these guys, they text you, they call you and they talk to you. But when they did draft me it was a huge surprise, and I'm just happy and thankful to be picked up by a good team.

LC: Absolutely. Now, West Virginia pretty much owned Rutgers the whole time you were there. So, how does it feel to be playing for the same guy you beat up on for all those years?

NG: Ah, It feels good. It's just different. You know, seeing a guy across from you on the sideline and now you play for him. I never really knew Coach Schiano. I never really knew his whole philosophy. Now that I've gotten the chance to experience his rookie mini-camp and learn from it, it's not too far off from what we did at West Virginia. You know, you play tough, you play fast, you play hard, you play intense and that's the game of football. He does a great job of preaching that. I'm just happy he's our head coach because I've gotten to see how he is from the opposite side of the sideline. Now I get to play for him. I'm going to give it my all and make plays for him.

LC: Now, you walked on at West Virginia. Is that correct?

NG: Yes sir.

LC: Can you just tell us a little bit about your journey from being a walk on at school to being drafted into the NFL and the type of perseverance and dedication it took to get you here?

Check out Najee's answer and the rest of the interview after the jump...

NG: Walking on at West Virginia was a huge step for my parents and me. My dad really wanted me to go to good school. When I looked at West Virginia and the great school they have, I mean great academics, great team. Everything about it I liked, family environment and a beautiful place. It was something different from what I was used to and I really wanted to experience that.

When I actually got down here, I saw there was a good chance I could contribute somewhere on special teams. My true freshman year, I actually got thrown into the special teams lineup. Then they took me out and told me they had too many inebackers and they were going to redshirt me. While I was redshirting I just learned and learned from the great guys that played here like ...(when reviewing the audio I couldn't make out these two names). Guys that play in the NFL now.

I actually got my first chance to start my redshirt freshman year against Lesean McCoy. I ended up with six or seven tackles. I ended up playing well in that game and got to start my sophomore year a little bit and pretty much all throughout my junior year. Then my senior year, they made me a captain. It took a lot of dedication, but it was cool. It was very cool, and I loved it here at school and I really love it down in Tampa Bay.

LC:Do you think that the mindset from all the work you put in from being a walk-on, to a starter, and then to a captain will help you in your NFL career?

NG: Yes sir. Just knowing how it is at the bottom, watching guys with scholarships coming in to the school and signing their letters of intent and everything. It kind of made me think about everything that I needed to do if I really wanted to play this sport. I really went out there and put my mind to it. I went out there and just made plays. My family and dad supported me, and he always told me that it takes hard work and dedication. Ever since then I've never turned back. I just listened to him and tried to find direction the best that I can from him. It got me to here.

LC: Yes. Your father John, played in the NFL with St. Louis and Philly in the 80's. Did he have any other advice for you about what it takes to be a professional in this sport?

NG: Yeah, he told me to pay attention to the veterans. Pay attention to those guys that have been there awhile. Hang around the guys that are making the right decisions and hang around your defensive line of course, because those are the guys that take care of me. Pay attention to those guys. Learn from the best and pay attention to the guys that are successful. Everybody in the NFL is good. That's why they're there.

Dare to be great, and dare to be the best. To become the best it means you have to stand out. That's what I'm taking from him right now that I'm coming back from OTA's. I'm going to spend a little extra time in the film room. Spend a little extra time with the coach. Try to learn things like they're the back of my hand and go out there and make plays.

LC: Fellow Buccaneer draft pick Keith Tandy was your roommate at West Virginia. How close would you describe your friendship?

NG: Very close. I mean, I lived with him for three years. I met him my freshman year coming in and didn't know anything about him. But after I met him I moved in with him my freshman year. I trust the guy with everything. He's always hard working. He stayed in the books. If I didn't feel like doing something he'd roll me over and motivate me to do it. If he didn't feel like doing something I would roll him over. So, we've got a pretty close relationship.

LC: We've read some different scouting reports that people did on you going into the draft. They're kind of all over the place, as those things generally are. What would you say your strengths are as a player?

NG: I would say my strength in general. My freshmen year I came in and set the bench press record at West Virginia by benching 510 pounds. My speed, I ran a 4.52 or 4.53. I can use that quickness. At West Virginia I played outside and inside. That overall quickness gave me an advantage over those big offensive linemen in the Big East like those guys at Rutgers, as well as guys from LSU and Oklahoma.

LC: What role do you see yourself competing for in training camp? Do you think you'll be more suited to playing in the middle, or do you think you'll fit in better as a strong side linebacker in the NFL?

NG: I see myself sitting right down in the middle. Being the signal caller like I was at West Virginia. Just making sure I learn the defense is my main concern right now. Once I get that down, then I can fiddle around with everything else and use that to my advantage, but middle linebacker is where I see myself right now.

LC: You mentioned something earlier about being a team captain. It seems like Coach Schiano is really going after guys that displayed a lot of leadership ability during their time in college. You, along with most of the other draft picks were captains for your college teams. Did he talk about that and what he was expecting out of you guys at last week's mini-camp?

NG: Yes, he did. He introduced us and talked about some of the things he had stated in the past, and about how it takes a great player to be a great leader. As a rookie you've got to learn to come in and play with the veterans, the guys that want to win. As a leader you've got to come in and act like a man. Not only a man in football, but you've got to act like a man should act everyday out in the public world. That's the type of guy I want to be for him and for Tampa Bay.

LC: Perfect. Well that's all of my questions Mr. Goode. Do you have anything you would like to say to all the Buccaneer fans out there to close this thing out?

NG. Yeah, I can't wait to wear the red and the pewter and knock somebody out. That's all I've got to say.

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