Mohamed, did the draft call prank turn out to be a positive thing for you?
MS: “At first I was heartbroken. After I had time to think about it, I knew that God had a plan for me. I’m thankful to be in Cincinnati and ready to work harder than I ever have.”
Do you feel like having
MS: “Definitely. I feel like I’ll fit right in and make the best of any opportunity that I get. I’ll make a play on any ball that comes my way.”
Did you ever talk to the person who pranked you?
MS: “I gave the number to my agent, who handled it. I let it be. It’s over and done. I’m looking forward to being a Bengal.”
It’s weird how it all worked out:
MS: “It’s kind of weird, but it all worked out for the best.”
Devon, many of the coaches at Penn State said that they leaned on you when all of the adversity hit. Did you feel a responsibility to be there for everyone?
DS: “I did feel that it was my responsibility. I was voted captain by Coach Paterno and my teammates for a reason. I had to face adversity the first two years at Penn State while I was injured, so I was prepared. I can’t take all the credit for it because I had three other captains who were with me and willing to do whatever it took to keep the team on the right path and do whatever we had to do to keep everyone’s minds set on football.”
You have family who played in the NFL. Is that an asset?
DS: “It boosts my confidence. I feel like football is in my blood. I grew up watching my cousins play in the NFL. That tells me that if I put in the hard work that they did, hopefully I can reach the level that they did in the NFL.”
Did the adversity you faced at Penn State prove to you that you can handle anything?
DS: “I don’t think we took that approach. When we signed up for Penn State, we signed up to get our degree and play football. No matter what took place off the field, we couldn’t worry about it because we couldn’t control the situation. We let the administration take care of it. I took it upon myself to make sure that we stayed focused on football, because that’s what I was voted captain to do.”
Do you feel like something was taken away from your experience at Penn State?
DS: “We do feel like something was taken, but we can’t be selfish. It was taken away from the team, community and Penn State family. It was hard for us, but things happen in life. You have to find a way to push through it and make the best of whatever situation you’re in.”
Did you know how ill Coach Paterno was?
DS: “When he was coaching, he didn’t show it. He was good for doing that. He didn’t want us to worry about what was going on with him. He wanted us to focus on football. After everything happened, things turned for the worse and he got sick. When you take away something that someone loves, it has a great affect on someone’s health.”
What kind of impact did he have on you?
DS: “He had a great impact on me. I wasn’t mature when I got to Penn State. He taught me what was important in life and to take advantage of my education. I learned from my two years when I was injured that football can be taken away at any time. You have to take advantage of your education and play every play like it’s your last.”
The AFC North is a very physical division, do you welcome the opportunity to share your physicality with this division?
BT: “I am ready for it. I feel like our strength and conditioning program put me in a great position to be able to lift weights and things like that. I am ready to get in a Bengal uniform and do what I have to do.”
Is the third round about where you expected to go?
BT: “It’s not really where I expected to go. At the same time though, I am here and happy to be here. I am ready for the experience and ready to be a great player.”
How much contact did you have with the Bengals beforehand?
BT: “I got to meet with the entire staff that was there at the combine and it was a nice meeting. I actually did have contact before yesterday. There wasn’t a visit or anything like that, but they were there for the pro day as well.”
All three of you guys played at major programs and I know you haven’t seen the schematics of what the Bengals do in detail, but do you feel transition to the NFL will be a smooth transition?
DS: “I think it is going to be a smooth transition. I think the scheme is similar to what we did at Penn State and I am a fast learner, so whatever they throw at me I want to be able to learn it quickly. I study my craft hard, so I don’t think the transition is going to be hard and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
BT: “I think it will be a pretty smooth transition coming from where I do. I had a great coaching staff and great players at Clemson. That put me in a great situation so when I move to the next level it won’t be a tough transition, but a smooth one.”
You seem to have pretty good knowledge of the defensive line and you seem aware of what they did last year. Did you watch them on tape or talk to people or what?
DS: “I am a fan of football and I watch it a lot. Particularly I watch this conference because they have some great defensive lines. I think I can learn a lot from those guys coming in here and hopefully I can take what I learn into my game on the field and get into the rotation.”
Is there anybody on the line you have watched at all?
DS: “I watch all of them because they all bring something different to the game and have a different style of play. They are all successful in what they do. If I take a little bit of what they do and implement it into mine, I will be a successful football player.”
Mohamed, at Rutgers, versatility was the name of your game, even running the Wildcat (offense) … Do you look forward to running the Wildcat in the National Football League, potentially?
MS: “If coach asks me to do it, I’m willing to do it. If he doesn’t, then, I’m willing to learn the position (of wide receiver in the NFL) and become a great receiver at that. I know the stuff that they’re doing in Cincinnati is similar to the stuff we were doing at Rutgers, so I’m looking forward to learning their system and getting in the rotation.”
Do you have a preference position-wise or do you like jumping around everywhere on the field?
MS: “I like the fact that I can play every position. It makes you more valuable and a better asset to the team.”
You played inside a lot this year. How comfortable will you be on the outside (in the NFL)?
MS: “Very comfortable. My first two years, I played outside and I played inside this year because we had no inside receivers.”
You were recruited as a safety. How much of an asset was that, seeing the wide receiver position through a former safety’s eyes in terms of where to settle in zones and all of that stuff?
MS: “It was very beneficial to me because I knew what safeties were thinking and what receivers were thinking, so I used both sides of the ball to help me become a better receiver.”
Do you know (former Rutgers player, now Cincinnati Bengal)
MS: “Yeah, I know Brian. We have a pretty good relationship. We talked last night about me coming here and he’s very excited about me coming here. I’m very excited to work under him, work with him.”
Did you have a chance to work with him last year? I know a bunch of the Rutgers guys were using the (college’s) facility during the (NFL) lockout ...
MS: “Yeah, we definitely trained together at Rutgers for that limited amount of time he was there. I was trying to just emulate everything he was doing and work as hard as he was because I knew he had made it, he was here and it was a place I wanted to come to.”
Did he give you much advice during the pre-draft process because I know you guys have the same agent?
MS: “Yeah, we have the same agent so he just told me ‘Enjoy the process. Your time is coming and your name will be called. Be patient and take it all in.’ ”
What’s the best advice your cousins gave you as you embark on your NFL career?
DS: “I asked them for advice and they said they really couldn’t give me any because the game has changed so much, so basically what they just told me is ‘Take advantage of every opportunity you’re given.’ Like I said to you earlier, time is limited on the football field, so you have to make the most of it and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Who’s the best athlete of three of you guys?
DS: “I mean, I think I would have to say I’m the least athlete of us; they’ve already proved their selves at the highest level of football. Now it’s my turn to prove that I can be in the same category as them.”