San Diego State QB Kevin O'Connell addresses the New England media after being selected by the Patriots with the 94th overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Q: Are you still on West Coast time?
KO: Yes, I am. But as you can probably imagine, when I got that call my day kind of sped up a little bit.
Q: Were you awake all ready when you got that call, or did it wake you up?
KO: Oh yeah, my parents and my grandpa and my sister were up having some breakfast around 7:30. We were just kind of hanging out, watching the TV go by. It's been a pretty insane sequence since.
Q: You've had a pretty meteoric rise since the end of your college season. You might not even on some top five boards at the start of this process and now, you're a third-round pick. Were you surprised at all that it was the Patriots that took you, given their quarterback situation?
KO: Through this whole process, all I really wanted was a chance to compete and kind of took it one step at a time as opposed to looking at it as a whole. I wanted go to the Combine and put my best foot forward and then have my Pro Day and any workouts that I might have and try to take it all in and enjoy the process. I really did enjoy it and I really didn't have any hopes of when I would go as much as where and to go to an organization like New England, which is pretty much the class of the NFL in my mind. They've been doing things the right way for so long and it's a wonderful opportunity.
Q: What's it like having the opportunity to learn from one of the best quarterbacks in the game?
KO: That's the first thing I thought of to tell you the truth: To learn from the best of the best. I've been watching [Tom Brady] for a long time and kind of studying the way he plays the game and carries himself and leads his teammates. Not only that, but to play for the coaching staff with Coach McDaniels and Coach Belichick, it's going to be the best possible situation for me to grow as a player. All I wanted was an opportunity to grow and come in and learn and to able to learn from the best, both coaching-wise and the leader of the football team, it's going to be a special experience for me.
Q: What were your impressions of Coach McDaniels?
KO: I thought of all the coaches that I met through this process and worked out for, he had, by far, the best kind of mentality when it comes to teaching and you can tell from the first we put on the tape and went out on the field that he really understood the best way to get things across and the best way to teach things and evaluate things. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and the way he's handled the quarterbacks there in New England and I'm just excited to get the chance to work with him, hopefully on a daily basis.
Q: What was that experience like for you? Just that brief time that you spent with McDaniels in the workout?
KO: Tremendous. It was just a 30-, 45-minute workout here in San Diego and he took the time to teach me some things about the offense that maybe some of the other coaches wouldn't have and he broke down my tape in a certain way that it was just really positive. But at the same time, he let me know some of the really important things that I'm going to need to work on if I'm going to have a chance at the next level.
Q: Was there a part of you that wondered 'why are the Patriots even interested in me?'
KO: No. I think with the situations that have happened in the NFL, I think teams are starting to go back to the three-quarterback, four-quarterback type, bring them into camp and let them compete, as far as guys making each other better. But with Tom Brady playing there, they just want to kind of look for a young quarterback that they can maybe take in and groom. They have three very good quarterbacks there already. It's going to be a good opportunity to come in and kind of get my feet wet in the NFL and learn from the best and just to continue to grow as a player and see where I can go from there.
Q: What would you say is your best attribute?
KO: I would probably say my toughness and my ability to go through adversity and continue to play at a fairly high level. I think that's one of the great things that makes Tom Brady so special and I know watching him over the course of his career, I've been a fan of the way he carries himself throughout the ball game and the way he's able to lead his teammates in comebacks and the late-game heroics are there to be seen. When adversity hits him, it's almost impossible to see because he doesn't let the play-to-play actions affect him and he just continues to play at a high level. That's something that I've tried to emulate, but to be able to be around him on a day-to-day basis and kind of watch everything that he does from film study to work ethic to dealing with his teammates is going to be an amazing opportunity for me.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your mobility? I know you led San Diego State in rushing yards this year, which is a little unusual for a quarterback. How does that play into your game?
KO: I think that at the level in which I played, it gave our offense another option. I think with me being able to run the football as many times as I did or as an option in an offense, it provided a different aspect, a different wrinkle. Hopefully, in the NFL, my goal is just to become the best possible pocket passer that I can be and learn the game and learn the art of playing quarterback at that level. If my athletic ability or mobility can help me to three, four times a game make a play down the line then that will definitely be a strong suit of mine, but I have a lot of things to learn and a lot of different aspects of the game that I want to continue to grow.
Q: What were the circumstances around you becoming a captain in your freshman year of college?
KO: I look back on it and I think when you play as a red shirt freshman and we had a pretty senior-laden team as far as defensive players, but I kind of played through some injuries, some small stuff here and there and just no matter, whether we were winning or losing, just to show that never-quit mentality. I think some of the seniors might have seen that as leadership, but you know what? Over the four years of being a captain I learned a lot about leadership, a lot about dealing with teammates and how to get them to perform at the highest level and you do that over the course of time. It was one of those things that I was blessed to have a lot of quality teammates at San Diego State and learned a lot from those guys and the leaders before me.
Q: Can you even now fathom running an offense with the likes of Randy Moss and Wes Welker and being able to throw to them?
KO: It's just kind of surreal, to tell you the truth, to think about guys that play at such a high level and are so successful. It's going be just an amazing opportunity, like I said, to have Coach Belichick and, in talking to Coach Belichick, it really seems like they drafted me because they think that I'm going to come in and work hard and learn my role and thrive in whatever role that might be. I think I'm looking forward to that and being able to be around guys like Randy Moss and Wes Welker and, of course, Tom Brady. It's going to be the perfect platform for me to develop into the best possible player I can become. (Noise in the background).
Q: Sounds like you've a friendly bunch in there with you.
KO: Yeah, I'm trying to keep my distance from them now. They're starting to cheat their way across the back yard here. I'm sitting out back, trying to find some privacy here to talk to you guys.