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Eugene Wilson Conf. Call Transcript 04/26/2003

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Q:Can you start us out and talk about any contact you had with the Patriots leading up to the draft? Are you surprised to be coming here?

EW: No, I am not surprised at all because first of all I have seen the Patriots. They were at my Pro Day and they came out for a private workout and I also took a visit out there. So, I have been seeing a lot of the Patriots lately. It wasn't a surprise at all getting picked by them.

Q:When did you come out to visit?

EW: Actually, I believe it was last week the 15th.

Q:Did they talk to you today and let you know they were interested in you?

EW: No, I just got the call when they decided to pick me and they just called and congratulated me on being a Patriot and told me I was one of them now.

Q:At the time, had any other team either been in contact with you on the phone maybe ready to pick you at that spot?

EW: No. I hadn't talked to anybody at that point. They were the first ones to contact me and that was the place to be.

Q:You shattered the school record at Illinois for deflections and had a lot of picks in your career. How did you develop your skills or your knack for being around the ball?

EW: I would have to say it was basically the defensive scheme we had last year. We played a lot of man-to-man and I was real comfortable with what we were doing and I was just making plays. When balls were thrown my way, I was just getting my hands on a lot of them.

Q:Do you feel that the Big 10 is a good testing ground for a cornerback to move onto the pros?

EW: I would say so. The Big 10 is a league where you have got to have quality corners. You have to have guys that cover as well as come up and defend the run. If you get a corner from the Big 10, you get an all around good corner.

Q:Did you ever have to cover [Charles] Rodgers at Michigan State?

EW: No. I never got the chance to play against him.

Q:I am not sure if you have had the chance to look over the Patriots roster or anything like that, but you can make an impact early on. Have you thought about your expectations for your rookie year or your first couple of years?

EW: Well, as a rookie I want to come in and try to get on the field. If it means coming in at the nickel or coming in starting, I am going to compete to try to get a starting spot. I am just going to work my hardest and compete the way I do.

Q:Coach Belichick if he had a forte on defense I guess it's defensive backs/the defensive backfield. Do you have any recollection of conversations with him? Did you get anything from him that he does that, sort of know the position probably better than most?

EW: No. We didn't really talk schemes all that much. He's a decent guy and that's a good thing.

Q:What type of player are you? I know that's a general question, but for those who maybe haven't seen you play, how would you describe your style of play?

EW: I would say I am a very energetic player when I am out on the field. A lot of people may not recognize me because when I am out in public I am more of a laid back, kind of quiet guy I guess you could say. But when I am out on the field I am real energetic and I bring excitement to the game and I like to have fun with my players and just have fun while I am playing the game.

Q:Eugene, you have a load of physical ability, but the one knock we have read on your scouting reports, is that you don't commit to studying and practice. What would you say to that criticism?

EW: I wouldn't say that that necessarily fits me because I am never one to not really know what I was doing on the field or know what teams did. I did studying on my own and when it came to practice and the meetings, I was always attentive and always knew what was going on. I wouldn't say that was a problem of mine.

Q:You said that you did well last year, that Illinois was playing a lot of man-to-man. Some of these scouting services, they say that you are a great player in zone, you are very good in the short zone but that you're suspect and you're maybe not as good as a man-to-man player. What do you think?

EW: Well, I think that last year speaks for itself when we did play man-to-man. I led the nation in passes broken up, I had six picks, I mean you can't ask for too much more of a man-to-man player than that. This year we played all zone. We weren't put in man-to-man situations as much as I would have liked to have been, but there were times when people may have thought we were playing man-to-man and someone caught a ball or something and it wasn't my zone. So they may have gotten it from that aspect but I feel that I am real good playing man-to-man.

Q:You've had some experiences as a boxer I read and also gymnastics. Can you tell us about your amateur boxing and gymnastics career and if that at all helped you in your cornerback development?

EW: Well, gymnastics that started when I was about five or six; the little kids around my area that is what they were doing. Just growing up, whatever everyone else was doing I wanted to do it and be the best at it. So people started doing gymnastics and flips, and I started doing them too and got pretty good at it. My Dad basically always had me boxing because he was a boxer. He never did pro or amateur, it was just a hobby of his and he trained me. I ended up boxing in the amateur league around 11 or 12 years old and won the state Championship two years in a row.

Q:What state was that?

EW: Indiana.

Q:Did the Patriots talk to you at all about handling punt returns and all that?

EW: No. We never really talked too much about the return game when I was down there. I believe there was mostly talk about just basically playing defense.

Q:Who did you spend most of your time talking to when you visited with the Patriots? Anybody in particular?

EW: Most of the time I spent was with the defensive backs coach/secondary coach [Eric Mangini] and watched film with him. We talked a lot of football. He is a real cool guy. I really like him. I like his personality and I feel like I am going to have a good time with him.

Q:Just for clarification, when was your Pro Day and when was the private workout that the Patriots attended?

EW: My Pro Day I believe was March 12th and they came out on a private visit on, I believe, April 4th.

Q:How many teams did you visit?

EW: Four.

Q:What struck you about the Patriots?

EW: The team unity for one. They seem like a real close-knit team especially a couple of years ago when they won the Super Bowl how they came out as a team and that was their decision to do that. I mean that right there shows that they are a real team and they care about each other and I think that struck me for one. Also, just the surroundings. They have a good staff and it just seems like a real good situation for me.

Q:What other teams did you visit?

EW: Kansas City, Tennessee and Atlanta.

Q:Coming into this draft, there was [Terence] Newman, [Marcus] Trufant and a bunch of other guys. How did you feel that you needed to prepare yourself for those other guys? Was it that big of a difference in your mind or are you just as good?

EW: I wouldn't say that there's that big of a difference at all. I think the one main issue with a lot of the guys that went ahead of me this draft was the height. Maybe they had an inch or two on me and that's what it seemed like the trend was going on there.

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