Confident corner not worried by disparate opinions on his draft stock By Eric Edholm April 15, 2008 Antoine Cason is a lot like the other highly rated cornerbacks in this draft — ask five personnel people what they think about them, and everyone seems to have a different opinion. The Arizona cornerback, for one, believes he has a good chance to go high in the April 26-27 draft. And if for some reason he happens to slide farther than expected, Cason, the son of former Oregon great Wendell Cason, has dealt with disappointment before quite well. After Oregon failed to offer him a scholarship, he became a Wildcat and put together quite a career, starting 46 games, intercepting 15 passes and winning the Jim Thorpe Award as a senior. Cason recently took time to chat with PFW about his father, his pre-draft visits. dining in Tucson and movies. PFW: What’s a typical day for you right now with the draft closing in? Cason: Well (pauses because of loud noises in background) … sorry about that! These Air Force plans are flying by right now. PFW: Where are you? Cason: The base is close to here, and they have the fighter planes flying over a lot lately. Anyway, a normal day for me, it depends on what I do … usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I go into the weight room with my strength and conditioning coach and do a lot of quick stuff with him and a lot of the other guys who are eligible for the draft, the seniors on my team. That will be in the A.M. around 10 o’clock. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will go out with one of my track coaches, Coach Francesca Green and Coach Fred Harvey, and work out with them. I do that for my longer speed and endurance. I have been approaching this whole thing, day to day, just waiting like everyone else. PFW: Who are some other Arizona guys you are working out with? Cason: (CB) Wilrey Fontenot, (LB) Dane Krogstad, (OL) Peter Graniello, (and Bears LB) Lance Briggs is out there. PFW: What has Briggs told you about the NFL? Cason: He always talks to us when we are in there working out. We work out pretty hard together and he tells us what to do, what to expect, how to be, just how to act as a pro. It’s a different game than college so he gives us inside notes, and it’s real helpful for us. PFW: Any good advice? Cason: Well, nothing that I had no idea about, but things that I have been like, ‘OK, I can take that with me.’ He tells us about our diet and what to do during the season, ‘You got to get your rest' because it’s a long season. He tells us things like that. It’s a business. This is your job. So you really have to stay clean and positive about what you do — college, parties, things like that. Now you’re a pro. You can party, but you have to watch yourself a little bit more because this is your job and now there’s even more media than in college. He tells us little things like that that eventually will help if you can apply it. PFW: Where will you be on Draft Day? Cason: No, I am going to move out of my apartment here and then go home (to Long Beach, Calif.) for a couple weeks until the draft. Friends and family will be over at the house on Draft Day, but I am not going to be there — I am just going to let everyone get excited for me. I am going to kind of stay away until everything happens. I don’t want to be too much of a party guy with that stuff. That’s not my style too much, but it’s cool for the family and friends to get together for it. PFW: What will you miss most about Tucson? Great town. Cason: I am definitely going to miss my teammates, the fans, the Arizona Wildcat family, the coaching staff, and everything that embodied (University of) Arizona. I have had a great time here. I do not regret my decision to come to Arizona at all. It has been awesome for me. The administration, the people have been good. College football, man, that’s one thing I’ll miss. It’s exciting. PFW: Favorite place to eat in town? Cason: Of course, when all the recruits come to town, we go to two steakhouses named McMahon’s (Prime Steakhouse) and Fleming’s (Prime Steakhouse). Those are the two big steakhouses that I will definitely miss here. Pretty good stuff. PFW: Have you watched tape of your dad playing? Cason: I have seen some tapes, yeah. I have seen some college tapes, about three games. About five more pro tapes that we found. It’s not much, but I have seen him play. PFW: Everyone turns scout this time of year, and because you are always the guy who is being scouted, let’s turn it around. Break down Dad on film. What did you like best about his game? Cason: (laughs) You know, I haven’t seen him in a while. Our mannerisms, it’s funny — they are the same. How he did things, how he played, it’s kind of the same. He’s always telling me that I was better than him, but just like from what I remember watching those tapes so long ago, his body type is the same. I get that a lot. And things like that. He was an aggressive guy, too. I am trying to remember those tapes … crazy. PFW: When it came time to pick a college, Oregon had to be high on your wish list. Cason: It was something that I grew up always wanting, knowing that he went to Oregon. … So Oregon was always a team that I watched. But when it got time to choose a college, he would always tell me, ‘Antoine, just because I went to this school does not mean you have to go there.’ So that helped me a lot in terms of staying neutral to it, even though deep down inside I was like, ‘yeah, I would like to go to Oregon.’ But as soon as that didn’t happen — I didn’t get an offer from those guys — it kind of quickly went away. It was tough. I was always an Oregon fan growing up. PFW: Did playing the Ducks become something of a pride thing then? Cason: Yeah, definitely when I played Oregon I was like that. But I felt like that for all the Pac-10, too. I was always told that I wasn’t good enough to play corner in the Pac-10, I wasn’t fast enough, big enough, things like that. So I had a chip on my shoulder. That’s how I played. Oregon is, of course, a little bit more than some other schools, but I have that chip when people doubt me. PFW: Are you going to have the same attitude about the NFL team that needs a cornerback and passes on you? Cason: You know, I feel like even after some of the things I have done, sometimes I don’t get a lot of respect. But that chip I play with — that’s that edge you see when I play. Anytime I step on that field, even at this next level, the things I hear just get my fire rolling. I am ready to go. Of course, I am not going to get picked first overall. But this is a whole different ballgame. I don’t expect someone to pick me first just because … but it’s all motivation. A lot of people have me going not up to where I think my ability is. So that also fills me, and that makes me that much more dedicated to keep working as hard as I could PFW: Our draft guy, Nolan Nawrocki, has you rated as a third-round pick. Do you read what people are saying about you much? Cason: I don’t look a lot on the Internet. And when I see things like that, it’s like, OK, if I am a third-round pick to him, where are the other corners? I have been the best corner. As a guy who has made all these accomplishments in the Pac-10, winning the Jim Thorpe Award, I didn’t do that by luck. There’s that production out there on the football field. And that’s another thing. Hearing you say that, it’s like, ‘Wow, this guy thinks I am going to miss just because … well, because I really don’t know why.’ I have covered the best in the Pac-10, and the production shows for it. That helps me fill even more. I have been All-Pac-10, all that stuff. I have covered these guys, I went to the Combine, I did exactly what I had to do. Whatever anyone said I couldn’t do, I did it. And I still am that low to people? That makes me go show them and prove them wrong — again. PFW: What was the competition like with the other corners at the Combine? Any trash talking with the guys? Or was it mostly business? Cason: I didn’t really talk to those guys like that, and I don’t think they did either. But yeah, the competition was there. It was everywhere. But you still have to be smart about what you’re doing. People wanted to see what I could do, and, of course, even before the Combine I heard I was going to have a bad Combine, that I wasn’t going to do well. But that’s another thing. I went out there and had the second-best overall Combine (among cornerbacks). What more can I do or prove? But the thing I tell myself all the time, I am going to keep playing with that chip. I am going to keep proving people wrong. PFW: What pre-draft visits have you made to teams? Cason: I went to Baltimore already. I (visited) New England. I have the Rams. And I have the Dallas Cowboys (coming up). PFW: How did your trip go to the Ravens? They seem to be in the market for a cornerback. Cason: I didn’t expect too much of it. I didn’t know how they go, so I just went in there and tried to be myself and show the confidence that I have in myself, that I play with, and try to interview well again. I felt it went well. Of course, they don’t tell you what’s really going on. They pick you; it’s not like I get to choose them. But I feel that I did well there. PFW: Best receivers you have covered in your day? Cason: I have had plenty. I have had (USC’s) Dwayne Jarrett (now with the Panthers) and Steve Smith (with the Giants). There’s (Cal’s) DeSean Jackson in there. (Oregon’s) Demetrius Williams (with the Ravens). (Cal WR) Geoff McArthur, (Washington State’s) Jason Hill (now with the 49ers). (Washington State’s) Michael Bumpus is a good receiver. Man, the list goes on … PFW: Who was the fastest guy you covered? DeSean Jackson? Cason: DeSean … and I am going to tell you the guy who was fast. He went to Oregon. Jordan Kent (now with the Seahawks). He played football, basketball and track. PFW: Do you have a favorite interception? Cason: Oh yeah. Against Cal my junior year and against Oregon this season. PFW: Describe the plays. Cason: It was just time to make a play. Cal was No. 8 in the nation, and they were running the same play that they were running in the first half, and I recognized it. I kind of just sat there and waited for it to come, baited (the quarterback), and when he threw it to the flat, I just jumped it and it was time to make a play. They had motioned DeSean over to the slot, had the fullback out wide, and it was a hitch on the outside. I guess DeSean was running a go route. I am sure they were thinking I was going to run with the go route and I acted like I was, and I broke on it. And then the Oregon one, we were in straight man, no help. It was man up. And it was like, this is man defense, it’s time to put it on the line, make a play. This is a game you have to make plays. Went out there, he threw it and it was my ball to get. And it was a touchdown. PFW: What’s the toughest question a team has asked you during the draft process? Cason: There have been a lot of tough ones. The one that was real tough was, ‘What have you given up to keep playing football? What sacrifices have you made to play football?’ PFW: And your answer? Cason: I had an answer. I told them it was a girlfriend. I had to give up things like that, girls, give up some of that nightlife to make that sacrifice. And you know what? I made it. And I know that’s what makes me the best cornerback. I am dedicated, I work hard and things like that. PFW: What team asked you that? Cason: It was the Patriots. PFW: Best movie you have seen recently? Cason: "American Gangster." That was great. PFW: What’s your favorite sport other than football? Cason: I like all sports. I have never played baseball, but it looks fun to play. And of course, I like hoops. Who is the best hoops player on the Arizona football team? Cason: We have some good ones, but I like (redshirt freshman WR) Terrell Reese. He’s pretty good. What do you do when you want to relax? Cason: I am chilled out, laid back. My roommate and I, we play games. Some of my teammates come to my place, or I will go to theirs. We’ll just chill. Nothing too big. It’s down time. There’s not a lot of it.