Vontaze Burfict entered 2011 at Arizona State as a prospect projected to be selected very early in the 2012 NFL Draft. But then his play dropped off sharply and red flags began to pop up left and right in regard to his personality. After a reported failed drug test for marijuana and a poor Scouting Combine performance, Burfict ended up tumbling off of draft boards and went undrafted before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals.
But he appears to be turning it around now in his rookie season with Cincinnati.
Vontaze Burfict joined MJ & Bickley on XTRA Sports Radio 910 in Phoenix to discuss the tumult that plagued him during the last year or so, his new opportunity in Cincinnati, his relationship with new coach Marvin Lewis in comparison to college coach Dennis Erickson, his team at Arizona State and having to learn a new position on the fly.
On moving from inside linebacker to outside linebacker:
“Just trying to get a feel for that so I can play faster on Sundays. Playing next to Ray, we’ve got to communicate and that just comes with practice.”
On having to learn a new position on the fly:
“It’s difficult, but that’s just my job. They could move me to safety and I’d still have to learn that position. It’s just knowing where your help is at and learning the position next to you, because you never know when that person might go down and you might have to step in.”
On his career with Cincinnati thus far:
“It’s been a good journey, since I’ve been under Marvin Lewis’ wing. He took me in and he coaches me how I need to be coached. If I mess up twice on one play that he already told me about, he gets to me. He starts yelling at me. But that’s what I need. … I love being under his wing because he talks to me like I’m a grown man and he understands you’re not supposed to always yell at a player. Sometimes I need to be yelled at.”
On not getting drafted:
“Tell you the truth, I don’t really like talking about it because it’s the past and I don’t even like to dawn back on that like, ‘OK, that’s what happened.’ I just look forward and just think positive all the time.”
On if he wishes he had a coach like Marvin Lewis in college:
“Yes, of course. I could be a totally different player, I think.”
On his poor performance and failed drug test at the Combine and the fact he wasn’t drafted:
“It humbled me just to work for everything, and everything’s not going to me.”
On his relationship with his Arizona State coach, Dennis Erickson:
“Me and him had multiple conversations, but we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on numerous occasions and it kind of affected me and him on the field of play. I love Coach Erickson deep down, and he was a great coach, great linebacker coach as well. But we just let other things affect his coaching and my playing on the field. That happens sometimes.”
On why he believes his relationship with Erickson prevented him from playing a leadership role in college:
“I let Coach Erickson’s coaching mess with me on the field and it totally messed with my head, especially on the field — me trying to be a leader and stuff like that. … Like the bowl game I was benched, and the whole week I thought I was going to be able to play. So it was just little things that me and coach didn’t see eye-to-eye on.”