Jan. 28, 2012
Michigan State fifth-year senior tight end Brian Linthicum, who set career highs for receptions (31) and receiving yards (364) in 2011, will represent the North in Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. NFL Network will televise the 63rd annual Senior Bowl at 4 p.m. EST.
Late Thursday night, Linthicum participated in a Q&A with msuspartans.com.
Q: Can you provide us with a practice update and what kind of feedback you have received from the scouts and North coaches?
A: Overall, things have been great. It's been exciting to compete against some of the best defensive ends and linebackers in college football. It was rough missing a full practice on Tuesday with a bruised shoulder, but the Senior Bowl staff insisted that it was in my best interest to sit out.
Coming from a pro-style offense has certainly been an advantage this week because I have a comfort level with this offensive scheme. I played in a three-point stance in college, so it's been easy to pick up the offense down here. I'm accustomed to playing in the trenches with my hand in the ground. I'm surrounded by tight ends who came from spread offenses, so they're accustomed to splitting out as a receiver.
I've spent additional time watching film this week, and I feel like I've stepped up my game. I've done a solid job of blocking and catching the football. I've also done a good job of getting off the line of scrimmage and creating separation from the linebackers. I believe I'm one of the most complete tight ends here at the Senior Bowl.
Following my performance in the Outback Bowl, I came down here with a great deal of confidence. I went head to head against Georgia's outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and made some plays in the passing game. All of the scouts here have been very complimentary, not only of my play against Georgia but the entire team. We proved to a lot of people that Michigan State can play at a high level and compete against the best teams in the country.
Q: With a short week of practice, how difficult is it to develop any type of rhythm, chemistry with the North quarterbacks?
A: Timing in the passing game hasn't been a huge issue. The pass routes are a little different than what I ran at Michigan State, but I've been working hard at developing timing with all three quarterbacks.
Q: Is there any added pressure in practice this week knowing that every move you make is being evaluated?
A: It hasn't been difficult for me. I appreciate the opportunity that everything is being evaluated. That's one of my strong points. I want to showcase that I'm not only a productive player but that I have high football IQ and establish that I can be a leader both in the position meeting room as well as on the practice field. I've spent a lot of time this week talking with the Vikings coaching staff about all aspects of the game.
Q: How would you evaluate the job your college teammate and Senior Bowl roommate Kirk Cousins has done this week?
A: I've been impressed with the way Kirk has handled his business this week. He has done more than simply hold his own down here. Kirk has had the opportunity to show off his arm strength, and he's displayed good accuracy.
Q: You'll have an opportunity in Saturday's Senior Bowl to improve your NFL Draft status. Have you established any personal goals?
A: You never know what's going to happen in an all-star game. This week's practices as well as Saturday's game will contribute toward my overall evaluation. For me, the key is to give 100 percent in everything that I'm asked to do Saturday: blocking, running routes, catching the football and making things happen after the catch.
Q: Can you identify some of your North teammates who have impressed you in practice this week?
A: There are some great players here in Mobile. One of the guys who has stood out to me is Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith because he's big and physical. Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford is a physical specimen at 6-5, 270. It's been fun to battle against Jack in practice. Lavonte David, a linebacker from Nebraska, is another good player who I've been matched up against this week.