Mardy Gilyard Interview
By: Ian Kenyon
February 13, 2010
Ian Kenyon: What did it mean to not only get invited to the Senior Bowl, but to have such a big game there?
Mardy Gilyard: It meant a lot, because the one thing I wanted to do was shut up all the critics about my weight and whether the Big East could compete with the top conferences. I really wanted to show everyone that playing at 179 is not an issue and that in the Big East, we do compete with the best. It meant a lot just to show how hard I've worked through my whole career, and it came to that point playing with the best and actually succeeding and having a stellar game.

Ian Kenyon: What was the main thing you worked on at the Senior Bowl?
Mardy Gilyard: Route running and finishing. I think I got yelled at a million times for not helping blocking for the running backs, chasing down the tight ends after they catch balls, or just the whole route running and crowding the ball. Just hustling and getting those extra blocks downfield.

Ian Kenyon: You really didn't break out until your junior year, what do you think changed from your first two years to your last two?
Mardy Gilyard: Well one, I didn't play wide receiver until 2007. That was my first time playing wide receiver ever in my whole life. I was a running back all the way up to my freshman year of high school. I was JV quarterback my freshman year for a few games, then went back to varsity running back. So I was a running back my whole career, pretty much my entire life. My first two years at UC I was a corner. My first year at wide-out was rough, of course, just like my first day at the Senior Bowl, my first practice was rough. But, eventually, I had a chance to work on my skills and hone those skills. And I had veteran receivers my whole career with Dominick Goodman and Antwuan Giddens, those guys helped me a lot in the off-season. Chad Johnson showed me a lot of things watching him. I had those two years under Goodman who, at the time, was UC's all-time leading receiver before I was able to establish those records. Hard work pays off.

Ian Kenyon: There was a trend for a while where it was thought of as an advantage for receivers to be tall, but recently there's been a shift towards smaller, quicker receivers. Why do you think this is, and how will it help you in the draft process?
Mardy Gilyard: I wouldn't say I'm a smaller guy, I'm not a DeSean Jackson. But in the same token, I'm not a Randy Moss. I'm kind of in that middle range. But with me being blessed to be able to play both sides of the ball, I can tell you that for those guys that are shorter, it is harder for corners to get their hands in the chest. And if a corner can't get their hand in your chest to slow you down while you're moving, then that's hard. As well as for linebackers to try to break down and tackle shorter guys. Most linebackers are tall, most DB's are tall, things are switching. So it's hard to go out and tackle those guys. We're just built better is the best way I can put it. We have a better center of gravity than a taller guy, so we can get under a tackle of someone whose 6'3", 6'4" that won't be able to dip and get under. We can make quicker moves than those guys to get moving a little faster than them because they take longer strides. There's numerous reasons why those smaller, quicker guys are being successful in the league, DeSean Jackson is the prime example. He's able to get under guys and give them a little move, and then it's off to the races.

Ian Kenyon: Who has been your biggest influence throughout your football career?
Mardy Gilyard: It would have to be between my older brother Greg and my newfound big brother Ochocinco. Ocho, if I have a bad day, he calls me and gives me an earful. Same thing if he has a bad day, I call him and give him an earful. And the same thing with my big brother Greg. Being the youngest of 10 brothers, and all my brothers played football, I was always trying to be the best. I always wanted to be the best out of everyone because there's bragging rights that come into play as well. Just being the youngest, you have an opportunity to watch a lot of mess-ups happen but also watch them be successful in everything they were doing. You're able to see everything, so you're able to learn from that. So I had an opportunity to learn 10 times over. Then plus over time, watching Chad Johnson do his thing and Dominique Goodman do his thing, I was able to watch those guys and learn from them.

Ian Kenyon: You were able to play under head coach Brian Kelly for the past four years. What has he brought to the Cincinnati football program, and how was he able to be so successful?
Mardy Gilyard: I think it had a lot to do with what we had there. We already had guys there that were playmakers and we just had to be placed in the right formula, and he was able to put us in that right formula. He didn't have to do too much; he didn't have to work too hard with what he had there. He had athletes all over the place on defense and offense. He took us from that pro-style offense we were running with Coach (Mike) D'Antonio: two tight ends and two wide receivers, to throwing athletes out there… 3 wide, 4 wide, 5 wide and things of that sort. And he also had this confident coaching style. "Hey, we're going to make them guard us." and "We're going to make them guard the deep ball." That's what I liked about him, he had that aggressive, confident coaching style. Either they're going to stop us or we're going to beat them. We're going to beat them by 50 or we're not going to beat them at all. And he had that really confident attitude coming into Cincinnati when he came in.

Ian Kenyon: What do you think is your biggest strength on the football field?
Mardy Gilyard: I would say my versatility. I'm able to go anywhere. I can be outside, I can be in the slot, if they punt me the ball, they'll have everyone holding their breath, hoping I won't take it to the crib. If they kick me the ball, everyone's holding their breath hoping that I won't go to the house with it. So, I would say my versatility, I'm able to catch the ball, I'm blessed to have good hands. That's probably the best way I can put it, the whole versatile style that I bring to the game. I'm not just a receiver, I'm actually an excellent returner as well.

Ian Kenyon: What is your favorite memory of your four years at Cincinnati?
Mardy Gilyard: I have a few of them to be honest, not just one memory. My first would be my first pass I caught back from being ineligible in 2007, just that first game. Catching that first ball, catching that first touchdown, I'll never forget that. I'll never forget in 2008 when I ran into my little man Garrett in the stands, literally, I'll never forget running into him. And then this whole season, going 12-0. I've never went undefeated a day of my life playing football and I've been playing since I was four. Going through a season undefeated, that is something that I'll never forget. Those would be my top three.

(September 21, -- Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore RB Ryan Williams is questionable at best for Saturday’s conference opener against Boston College after he injured a hamstring in last weekend’s win over East Carolina. The injury is not believed to be serious even though Williams had to be helped off the field and spent the second half on crutches, however, he has practiced on a limited basis this week.

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