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One-on-One with the Pirates
, August 27, 2010

By Ron Cherubini

Q&A with Antonio Allison

By Ron Cherubini
All rights reserved.

If there is a player that has experienced it all on this East Carolina defense, it might be Antonio Allison. As a freshman and sophomore, he learned the ropes on the defensive line from guys who now call the NFL home, and when he got on the field with those guys, he hung in there and exhibited the kind of play that had many buzzing early in his career that he would follow in the steps of his mentors.

While the NFL is not out of reach for Allison, his career certainly has been a mixed bag leading up to his final campaign in 2011. Injuries really stalled his opportunity to maximize his skillset. But, as he heads into his final campaign, he is on a roll. He has been healthy since the second game of 2010 and his coaches have raved that a new gear kicked in for Allison around mid-season – which makes sense given that he was finally fully healthy. This season, Allison is one of the leaders on the defense and is jacked up to see what he can do now that he is in a groove physically.

Antonio was kind enough to sit down for a chat with Bonesville to share his insights on the upcoming season.

Antonio Allison (99) in action (ECU SID photo)

One-on-One with Antonio Allison

Q: The coaches have said that you finished last season with a fire in your eyes and a consistency that they had not seen from you all season. Talk about maybe what got into you down the stretch and how things are going heading into the first game transitioning to DE?

A: Going back to the summer of last year…even though I played in the spring, I was coming off injuries from the year before where I was restricted for two games and then out the rest of the season, so I came back (last season) more ready than ever to play again. We had the new coaches and I was just ready to play. I was probably more ready for a football season than I had ever been last year. I had never been able to get any momentum going because each season it was an injury stopping me. I was kind of slow at first, but then I feel like I came around about the time of the Virginia Tech game and picked up my game from that point on. I have a real passion for this sport… its unbelievable. Of course, I have dreams of going to the NFL… in fact, it is not a dream for everybody, but I am trying to leave a mark on the program which is important to me and I think that is probably part of what the coaches are saying they have seen in me now.

Q: The defense changed to a 3-4 and initially it was thought that you and Michael Brooks would rotate at nose guard. That is not the case, right?

A: I worked at nose guard originally, but they moved me out to boundary (defensive) end. I was playing both nose and boundary end, but Coach (Marc) Yellock decided to put me at boundary end and to focus on that. So, I have been in that position.

Q: Do you feel like you have a good handle on the role of boundary end? Are you ready to go?

A: I think I am still adjusting because I had not played end since high school. I am working through breaking some old habits (from when he played DE), like hand placement and pad level, but these are things I am working on and I work hard at stretching and in the weight room. I believe I will be ready come game time.

Q: Antonio, you cut your teeth with a bunch of guys who are in the NFL now, a couple already with Super Bowl rings. So you have seen and played with guys who know how to get it done on the defensive line. Are you seeing any indicators with your teammates in the line that it is clicking in for them?

A: Basically I came in under the wings of guys in the NFL right now with Linval (Joseph) and Jay (Ross). You know, they taught me everything and of course being with Coach Rock (Roggeman), rest in peace, Coach. He taught me so much and I am taking everything I have learned from those men and transferring into this defense and my role here and now. We have a lot of talent on the line this year, too. Young guys like Derrell Johnson and Matt Milner, guys who played a lot of football last year. It has been fun so far playing with those guys. This is my last season so I am trying to make it count.

Q: What player on this team do you most respect and why?

A: Not just one player. I really respect the whole group of defensive linemen. One thing Coach tells us is that he wants us to play together. Every one of those guys listen and give respect to me… we work hard together and we have a lot of fun together off the field, too. I respect every one of these guys… without a doubt.

Q: What defensive lineman should we be watching to step up and play a significant role this season in the rotation?

A: Derrell (Johnson) and Matt (Milner) are really showing what a year of experience can mean… they obviously learned a lot. And, of course, Michael… I am looking forward to playing alongside him again this season. It will be a little different at end, but I am excited about it.

E-mail Ron Cherubini

Ron Cherubini Archives

08/27/2011 06:20 AM


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