Friday, April 24, 2009

Q&A: Lawrence Sidbury, DE, Richmond

Lawrence Sidbury is one of the top small school prospects in the 2009 draft and one of the fastest risers as well. Lawrence how is it going today?

Sidbury: It’s going pretty good, thanks for having me.

Before we get into football and the Combine, workouts, and the all star games, tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do outside of football...

Sidbury: You know, I’m a real humble, down to earth guy. I try to treat people right and hang out with my friends and family.

When you hang out with your friends and family, what are you typically doing?

Sidbury: Really, we're just sitting around...having my friends over, sitting around because I don’t really get to see them that much because I’m at school. So when I get to see my family and friends I try to make the most of it.

How about your boys, you guys have to go out sometimes, right?

Sidbury: Yeah, we go out sometimes. We go out to have a good time but also be responsible and that way we (show) have character and home training. So going out and making a fool of myself is something I don’t do and I try to surround myself with people like myself and stay away from situations.

So you try to act like your mama raised you right?

Sidbury: Oh yeah most definitely. I don’t play that. (laughs) That’s pretty much it.

Did you have a strict mom growing up?

Sidbury: I wouldn’t say my parents where super strict, but they definitely taught me right from wrong. They talked to me outside of everything and if I was to do something wrong as a child I would get punished. But they would talk to me, council me, and tell me what’s right and what’s wrong. I never really was a rebellious child so I never really got in a lot of trouble growing up, but you know, knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. Not getting in trouble at school, not getting in trouble with the law, treating people with dignity and respect. Those are things my parents taught me growing up.

So we're not going to find any anonymous pictures on any web sites?

Sidbury: Nah, you ain't going to find any of that.

How about other sports, did you follow other sports as a fan growing up?

Sidbury: I played a little bit of everything when I was growing up. Basketball, baseball, ran track in high school...I was pretty much into everything when I was growing up. But you've got to make a decision at some point on which sport you're going to invest the most time to.

You are a pretty athletic guy coming from ACC country. I figured you definitely had some hoops game for sure.

Sidbury: Growing up I thought I was going to be 6’8 or 6’9. But I’m 6’3. So there aren’t too many 263-pound shooting guards out there. So I had to make a decision.

I hear that. I’m part Croatian and guys like Tony Kukoc came from there. Both my uncles are like 6’4 or 6’5. so I figured I would grow to be at least as tall as them. But I reach 6’1, barely. I have to go on my tippy toes to get to 6’1, so I hear you. Then you get shut down, like you said, when you’re a big dude and you've got to play on the perimeter--those things just don’t mix. So in high school, what did you play?

Sidbury: I didn’t play basketball in high school. We had a pretty good team. I just did baseball and track along with football when I was in high school.

Let’s talk a little bit of football then. Coming from a small school your experience is a little different than other guys', like Brian Orakpo’s from Texas or Robert Ayers', the SEC player from Tennessee?

Sidbury: You know, to be honest there really isn't much of a difference outside of maybe a little bit of a drop in talent, but not too much. Playing in the CAA, the best I-AA conference (Championship Sub-Division), there were a lot of competitive teams. I think in the past our conference had been ranked above two of the lower Division I conferences or Bowl Sub-Division conferences. Outside of not having as many fans at the games and the mystique behind our program, you know, it’s pretty much the same. We still go out there and practice like those guys and play hard just like them. But when it comes to this process right here, it seems like we have to jump through a few more hoops to show that we can play.

Talk about the fact that guys like Joe Flacco, and DRC, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They were both first round picks and made immediate impacts last season. One played in the Super Bowl and the other one led his team to the AFC Championship game and was a guy you played against, Joe Flacco. Do you pay attention to that? Do you take note of that and say, "Good for them...and not only good for them, but good for me" because it gives more credibility to the small schools in general?

Sidbury: It just goes to show that there are good players at this level and some of the players are better than some of the kids at bigger schools. I mean, those two guys...I played against Joe and throughout this whole process I had no doubts that he was one of the best quarterbacks coming out. I was on the field with him and saw how he threw the football and I saw a little bit of tape on Dominique because we had played against Vanderbilt and he played against them too. So he stood out, but at the same time seeing those guys make a impact at the next level just goes to show and gives me a little bit of confidence that I can do the same thing.

So when you step out onto the field at these all star games, like the East/West Shrine Game and then the Senior Bowl, people assume right away that you need to prove yourself against the bigger school guys. When you step on the field it sounds like you want to prove yourself to the scouts, but it also seems that you already had the mentality, you already knew you could play with these guys and you didn’t need to prove it to yourself.

Sidbury: I don’t think I need to prove it to myself. But with the situation that presented itself, I think I did have to prove it to the coaches, scouts, and GM’s. You also want to show the guys on your team and the rest of your teammates because there were a couple guys who asked, "Which school did you go to?" And I was like, "Richmond" and some of them said, "man, never heard of it." That was kind of weird because, you know, we had won the National Championship. Some guys knew what we had done as far as our playoff runs. But just going out and showing you are as good as they are and that there are some kids you may be better than out there. But when you get to those events, the East/West Shrine game the Senior Bowl and the all star games, you are going out there just like the rest of those guys. You want to come out and practice and want to make plays and show that you can beat guys that are wearing a Florida helmet or LSU or USC helmet or Michigan helmet, or whatever.

How was the camaraderie there amongst the guys? Who were some of the guys that you built a relationship with?

Sidbury: You know, you would be surprised. During those all star games, it’s very competitive, but there are a lot of good people out there. My roommate at the Senior Bowl was Robert Ayers and he was a pretty cool guy. Sometimes you see these guys on TV and you don’t know what type of people they are because seeing somebody through a television screen, you can’t really tell that much. But getting to meet the USC guys and all the guys from Ole Miss and LSU, those guys were great guys. I felt fortunate to meet those guys.

How about when you got the phone call to go to the Senior Bowl? Obviously it’s a honor to go to any of these bowl games and you don’t have to go to the Senior Bowl to be a impact player in the NFL. But that is the cream of the crop of the All Star games. You originally got the East/West Shrine game and obviously impressed the NFL people there. Talk a little bit about what you were feeling when you got the invite to the Senior Bowl...

Sidbury: Well, I found out about the Senior Bowl the night before or the day of the Shrine game. I was thinking, "Ahh, man. I’m going to be on a plane the next day and not going back to Jersey to work out. But I’m going to another week of practice". I was like, "I don’t know if I can take it" because practice was pretty intense (laughs). But you know, in my situation I knew in order to further prove myself and help myself out it was something I had to do to get rid of, that I-AA stigma. And I think playing in those games and playing well in those games, I pretty much erased that stigma of playing at Richmond. Because you have practice tape and game tape of me in practice and in the game making plays against people who are considered the top-100 seniors in the country.

People obviously know about your athleticism: A 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash for an end is pretty darn impressive. Would you say your speed and athleticism, are those the strengths of your game?

Sidbury: I would have to go ahead and say that they are. I think you don’t find too many guys my size that run the way I do. I think it’s just a gift from God and I think my athleticism definitely helps me on the field while I’m playing.

I’ve heard the term 'situational pass rusher' thrown about a lot when describing you. What are your thoughts when you hear those terms, and is that something that makes you think, "OK, I can do that", you know? Obviously when you’re a rookie breaking into the team, you try to help out any way you can. Eventually, I’m sure you see yourself as a more well-rounded player.

Sidbury: Yeah, you know, it pretty much raises two questions. Two things. One is that I want to go out and prove that I can play against the run. Then I would have to ask how much film did those guys watch, because you could see I played the run very well this season. I feel very confident in my ability to play the run and rush the passer.

Talk about playing outside linebacker. Is that something you have ever done? Have you ever played in a two-point stance, and how many teams are showing a interest in you being that 3-4 pass rushing kind of player?

Sidbury: We played basically a 4-3 at Richmond but we did a lot of zone blitzing while we were there. Dropping into that flat or that seam flat area and covering the tight end...we did a little bit of that within our defense. So that’s not something I feel uncomfortable with and if that opportunity presented itself, I don’t think it would be too tough of a transition for me--the middle part of learning different coverages and things like that. As far as my ability to drop back and flip my hips and run, I have no doubt that I can do that.

Now you have the terminology down with "flipping my hips". How about your hands? Can you snag that ball if you're out in coverage?

Sidbury: Yeah, I can snag the ball. In my workouts I didn’t drop anything so I’m feeling pretty good with my hands right now.

I believe you have had visits with the Bills, Eagles, Cowboys, Rams and Titans. Is that right, am I missing any teams?

Sidbury: I’ve already been to Buffalo and I’m going to Pittsburgh too.

Pittsburgh. Now there’s a team that knows how to pick those 3-4 guys, they know how to pick those gems. Alright Lawrence, we are going to close things out with a segment we call Three-and-Out. So first down: growing up, who was your favorite cartoon character?

Sidbury: My favorite cartoon character? Ah, Wolverine.

Wolverine alright. You mentioned liking baseball. Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Sidbury: Growing up my favorite baseball player was Ken Griffey Jr..

Alright...third down: A little music now... a little hip hop, a little east coast/west coast thing--are you a Biggie guy or a Tupac guy?

Sidbury: You know what, I can’t answer that because don’t think I could choose between the two. So I’m going to say fifty-fifty.


Sidbury: So I'll say Biggie-Pac.

(laughs) Biggie-Pac I haven’t gotten that one. Good answer Lawrence, I don’t think you could go wrong with either one. So Biggie-Pac is a slam dunk.

Sidbury: Yeah. The Notorious P.A.C.

Richmond Athletic Public Relations