Note: Recently, LLT was granted the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Cortez Allen, the Steelers' 2011 4th round draft pick! The following is a transcript of their interview. Steelers Universe would like to extend our gratitude to Cortez for taking the time to sit down with us, and Shawn Smith, Co-Founder and Director of Marketing and Media Relations for X-A-M Sports for coordinating our interview with Cortez!
SU: This is Perry Biggerstaff and we are talking to Citadel defensive back and Steelers draft pick Cortez Allen here at Steelers Universe, your Internet site for all things Pittsburgh Steelers. Cortez, we want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us and on behalf of Steelers Universe I want to welcome you to the team and tell you that we are looking forward to seeing you in the black and gold as soon as this lockout is over.
CA: Thank you, Perry, and thank you for having me on the show.
SU: Well, speaking of the lockout, how are you handling this lockout situation, and what are you doing until the lockout is lifted?
CA: The only thing I can do. Just stay in shape and make sure that I'm ready when the time does come.
SU: Where are you working out at?
CA: I'm back at the school. I'm at the Citadel working with my strength coach and my position coach, and a couple of other guys here who are trying to further their football career.
SU: Go through that moment when you were drafted by the Steelers. What were your emotions?
CA: Oh wow....um, I was sitting on the bed, watching the TV and talking to my brother when I heard the phone ring. It was coach Tomlin and my heart dropped....you know, the Steelers organization....and I couldn't ask for a better place to be at. Great coaching staff....great family. I actually went up there on a visit, before actually getting drafted, in the early part of April. I got to meet with the coaching staff and everything and felt really, really, you know, good about the situation and things, and just hearing that phone call was a dream come true.
SU: Oh, I'm sure. And it was Coach Tomlin who reached out to you?
CA: Yes sir, he was the first person that called.
SU: Did you get a chance to talk to Coach Lake at all?
CA: Yes sir, I talked to Coach Lake. I talked to Coach LeBeau also.
SU: You know, Coach lake....when I was listening to the draft press conference, he kept using the word "versatile" when he was talking about you and Coach lake knows a lot about versatility in the defensive backfield. So, it makes me wonder if Coach Lake is looking at your versatility in playing both safety and cornerback. Have you ever played safety and is that something that you think Coach lake may try you out at?
CA: I have played a little bit of safety a long time ago but I really don't know where Coach Lake....his idea of where he wants to put me or how he wants to use me. I think that his definition of versatility means that I am able to play off and in press coverage. I'm not sure where he is going to use me in this defense but I am open to anything and will be trying to help the team.
SU: What role do you foresee for yourself the first year? Are you willing to play Special Teams?
CA: Oh, absolutely.
SU: What are your thoughts of being able to play in Dick LeBeau's system? To actually be able to be coached by a Hall of Famer like Dick LeBeau and not only that but to be able to be under the tutelage of Coach lake?
CA: This should be every defensive back's dream. I mean, the Steelers organization has a great coaching staff and like you said....Coach Lebeau....Hall of Famer....what better coach could I have been....? I mean, I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity. To have such outstanding individuals coaching me so that I can learn a lot of different things. I'm just ready and excited about learning.
SU: It really is just a great situation to be able to come into. You seem like a perfect fit for the Steelers organization. You have that combination of strength and speed and the Steelers often look for character in their young draft picks. From everything I am hearing about you and everything I have heard you say, there seems to be a lot of character there. How does that discipline of the Citadel help you out in regards to contributing to the Steelers?
CA: Well, being at the Citadel has taught me how to be disciplined. How to have character and integrity. Just taught me a lot of discipline and just being respectful. It has taught me a lot. How to deal with certain situations, how to persevere, how to deal with adversity and just being there has made me a better person and a better man.
SU: Coach LaBeau and Coach Tomlin, they talk all the time about practicing as a starter and having that type of discipline. Do you have that type of discipline?
CA: Yes sir.
SU: What attributes do you bring to the Steelers that are unique to Cortez Allen?
CA: Number one, I'm extremely disciplined. You'll never have a problem out of me as far as getting in trouble and things like that. I'm not the type to follow the crowd. Very hard worker, willing to learn and open minded. I feel like I learn very quick and I'm very coachable. So whatever coach Lake and coach LeBeau teaches me I feel like I will be able to soak in very well.
SU: I hear you talking about discipline and character. Is that a family trait? Is there someone in your life that has influenced you to be that way?
CA: My father, he always taught me how to be respectable and good mannerisms and things like that. As well as my mother. Its just how I am, the kind of person that I have been, the kinds of things that I work on as far as the kind of person that I want to be.
SU: Is there a player that you pattern your game after?
CA: I can't say that I pattern my game after just one guy. I just like to take what I have and the coaching that I get and try and make me the best Cortez Allen I can be.
SU: When you think of "cornerback," who is your idea of the ideal cornerback?
CA: Coach Lake.
SU: (laughing) That's the perfect answer! Is there an aspect of your game that you feel like you need to work on to be pro-ready?
CA: Hmmm....the only thing that I can say right now is just learning the Steelers defense.
SU: Just learning that playbook.
CA: Yes sir.
SU: It sounds like you are ready to hit the ground running once you get there.
CA: Yes sir.
SU: Well, I tell you what Cortez, I really appreciate you coming on here with us. I talked to some of your future teammates, and it just sounds like that this year's class just seems to be exceptional when it comes to character and discipline and we are just all looking forward to seeing you in the black and gold. Thank you for taking the time to be with us and could you tell all our listeners before you go where they should go for all their Steelers needs?
SU: And that was Cortez Allen, 4th round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thank you, Cortez.
CA: Thank you.
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