CORNERBACK DUKE DAWSON
Q: Where were you when you got the call?
DD: I'm down in Kissimmee, Florida right now with family members. We rent out a big house and just all came together and just had a nice family time and just enjoyed the process.
Q: What was that like? Can you walk us through that - who called you, was there a celebration, what happened?
DD: It was so surreal. All my family members, we're just watching TV and at the time I was just looking at all the picks to see what was going on and I kind of got caught in just watching the football players and the plays. All of a sudden my phone started ringing. Then I saw a Massachusetts area code and when I saw that my heart just started beating and I just got so excited. Once I got on the phone and talked to Coach [Bill] Belichick and talked to the general manager, I mean it just felt so surreal, man. I mean it's been a dream come true since I was little, just being able to fulfill my dreams.
Q: What was your pre-draft visit with the Patriots like?
DD: It was great just going in, building that relationship with everyone in the building. Just being able to conduct myself in a positive way - just everybody can get to know the real side of Duke [Dawson]. I mean that's really how the visit went.
Q: You seem to have a knack for getting your hands on the football. You had about 17 passes defensed over your last 18 games. Can you speak to why you've had success in that area?
DD: I mean I just go out - I feel like my coaches prepare me well every week. They give us a great game plan. Then I just go out and compete at a high level. Just like to go out and have fun with my brothers. Just being able to play a team sport with guys that you build relationships with, I mean it gets contagious. Just being able to do that and see other guys around me making plays as well, it's just awesome to see.
Q: You said you wanted to introduce the Patriots to the real side of Duke. Can you introduce us to him?
DD: I'm a very humble guy. I just come in and do what is said. I've never been a guy that came in conceited, cocky. I've just always been humble and mellow. I'm just a laid back guy. When it's time to turn up and do the things that I like to do, that's when things start to get even better for me. I just like to come in and help in any way that I could. It really don't matter where I get put. I just want to come in and help this team in any way I can.
Q: Nick Caserio talked about all the different players you played with in the secondary at Florida. How do you feel that experience will help you here in the NFL with the Patriots?
DD: It will help me as well, just being able to talk to Quincy [Wilson], Vern [Vernon Hargreaves III], Marcus Maye, Teez [Tabor]. All of us, we have a very, very close relationship. I mean when I first came in day one, that relationship has been the same. Just being able to build connections with those guys and see those guys doing well, it's just great to see. I just want to come in and continue the legacy that we have at Florida.
Q: You played in a number of different positions in the secondary at Florida. Is there one you feel more comfortable with?
DD: Not at all. Whatever position they want to put me in, I'll just go out there and feel comfortable at the time and just play my role.
Q: Nick Caserio just told us that the Patriots have had their eyes on you for a while. Did you have a strong indication that they were highly interested in you?
DD: To be honest I didn't know - just seeing all the trades and the different picks and everything – I didn't really know who was very high on me. I mean I spoke to a lot of teams. All the teams that I spoke to went very well so I really didn't know who was going to pick me at the time until I got the phone call.
Q: How strongly did you consider coming out last year and what do you feel like you gained by playing this past season?
DD: It was 50-50. I went in to talk to the head coach, Jim McElwain, my defensive coordinator, assistant AD, defensive coordinator. We just all sat down and talked about the pros and cons and everything. Once we figured everything out I just put my pride aside and I had to come back. I feel like it was more of a maturity thing, growing up. When I saw all the pros and cons of everything I decided to come back and by me coming back I feel like I grew as a student-athlete. I grew as a player on the field as well. I mean just being able to see different things that I didn't see my junior year in my senior year, it was very helpful.
Q: You played in the SEC against two guys that the Patriots ended up drafting. What do you remember about playing against Sony Michel, if you did?
DD: I actually remember playing against Sony Michel my junior and senior year. That's a great guy. Sony can do it all. So I mean being able to have a guy like that in the backfield is going to be phenomenal. Just seeing all those great things that he's done and I feel like there's going to be great things coming ahead.
Q: The Patriots lost a cornerback this offseason in Malcolm Butler. What do you know about Malcolm and what do you know about the Patriots and the way that they go about utilizing their cornerbacks?
DD: The Patriots, I feel like they utilize their corners in the best way that they can to see the player's skill set. Malcolm Butler was a great player. [He] came in undrafted. I mean he just came in and worked his butt off and got the respect. I mean he's one of the top corners in the league in my opinion.
Q: How many family members did you have in the house with you tonight roughly?
DD: It's a lot. Right now I'm outside looking at all these cars lined up. I can't even give you an exact number. So I mean it was just a house full of people. Just being able to be around those guys and those women, it was just great.
Q: One of the things that defined Malcolm Butler was his competitiveness here. One of the terms people often use to describe you is competitive and how you tackle as well. Where does that come from? Have you always been that kind of guy?
DD: Yes, I've always been a competitor since day one. My uncle, he taught me the game of ball since the age of eight. He's just always instilled that into me and once my dad got out or whatever, I mean he's been with me the same way. Me and my dad, we've never lost connection. Sadly he was gone. So it was just always built inside of me.