Robbie Agnone Interview Delaware - Tight End 8/15/08 By: J.R. Glymph You can listen to the full audio of this interview by Clicking Here Tony Conty: What is your current height, weight, and estimated 40 time? Robbie Agnone: I am 6’5 ¾”, 255 lbs. I haven’t run an official 40 since high school, but if I had to guess, I’d figure that I would be running in the 4.7s at least, but hopefully better than that? Tony Conty: What led you to the University of Pittsburgh after playing ball in Etters, PA? Robbie Agnone: Coming out of high school, I was more of a basketball player, but Coach Harris, who was there before Coach Wannstedt, convinced me that I could be a really good receiving Tight End. He came in and he recruited me pretty hard. I really liked the program and where it was headed with him coaching. I ended up turning down a lot of D-1 basketball scholarships and ended up in Pittsburgh with him and he ended up leaving after my first season. Tony Conty: What other schools showed you interest? Robbie Agnone: I had a bunch as a Tight End, but the only ones that ended up offering me in the end as a Quarterback were James Madison and Akron. Earlier, in the summer before my senior year, I turned down, well, pretty much told teams that I wasn’t playing Tight End: North Carolina, Virginia, Rutgers. I went to camp at West Virginia, basically all Big East schools and mostly schools in the Northeast. I basically told them I wasn’t interested, because they wanted me to play Tight End, and I ended up playing Tight End. Tony Conty: So, there was a little doubt about your position because you were a stand out Quarterback in high school? Robbie Agnone: Yeah, most teams I only played one year of Varsity Quarterback in High School. I played Receiver my Junior Year and that’s when most teams I went to camp and ran some 40s and did the Vertical Jump. They saw me as an athlete. They never saw me play Quarterback, but they were really interested in me as a Tight End. Al Groh at Virginia was actually the first coach to tell me. He told me before my Junior Season actually, when I was at camp down there, that I was going to be playing Tight End. They were very, very interested, but I ended up telling them before my Senior Year that I just wasn’t interested in playing Tight End and they stopped recruiting me after that. Tony Conty: What were the circumstances that led to choose Delaware? Robbie Agnone: Once Coach Harris left well, my first season at Pittsburgh, I played Quarterback. I was 3rd-string and right when Coach Harris left, I played Tight End. I went through Spring Ball. I did pretty well receiving. I wasn’t really doing too well blocking. I had never blocked before in my life, so I had a hard time with that and keep working at it. Once Coach Harris left, I was kind of thrown under the rug. I don’t think that they really wanted to work with a guy who hadn’t really played the position. I just didn’t feel that I was being treated or given a fair chance at the position. I felt that some of the guys that were put ahead of me weren’t as good. I knew that Joe Flacco had transferred out. He left before Spring Ball. We were good friends at Pitt. Right after he left and I decided to transfer, he was one of the first guys I called, just to find out how it all worked. The Offensive Coordinator at Delaware went to my High School, so I had a connection with Joe and with Coach Ciarrocca, so I got in contact with them. I went on one visit to Eastern Illinois, but it wasn’t a really good fit. I didn’t really like the area. Delaware was close to home and I knew that Joe was here. I knew if I was going to play I-AA, I might as well catch passes from the best Quarterback in the Nation, so I ended up at Delaware. Tony Conty: Did you have any doubts about the offense working for you? It’s not the Run-and-Shoot there, but I know that a lot of run-and-gun offenses that are heavy on Shotgun Formations may not use the Tight End as much. Did you have any doubts that the offense, as far as a scheme was concerned, would work for you? Robbie Agnone: Looking at them at first before I got here, I questioned that a little bit, but the Tight End they had before me caught, like, 20 balls, but basically Coach Ciarrocca just said that if you come in here and show that you’re a good receiver and that you’re a talented kid, I’ll make sure to get you the ball. Actually, Ben Patrick ended up transferring in at the same time and we just proved that we were good receivers and we ended up, combined, with, like, 80 catches, and then, in my Junior Season, the other Tight End and I combined for, like, 65-70, so we’ve been used plenty here. Tony Conty: What did you learn from standout Ben Patrick when filling in for him, because he was someone that we really liked coming out of Delaware? Robbie Agnone: I credit Ben with being one of the best coaches that I ever had as a Tight End. When Ben came in for camp, he had a foot problem, so really he would just sit back and he was a coach. I credit him with a lot of my route running and little things like stemming guys up on your routes, getting into the right position, and getting leverage. Just different little things. He was a great coach with route running and he helped me with blocking, too. Just being around him and seeing how he carried himself and the meeting with film. He was someone to really look up to and someone that I credit my game a lot to. Tony Conty: So what can you credit Delaware for being such an attraction for Division I players? It seems to have become pretty popular in that regard. Robbie Agnone: You know, when you are coming down from a D-I Program, it’s nice not to lose the D-I atmosphere. At Delaware, we get 23,000 every game. To be honest with you, our atmosphere was better here than it ever was at Pitt. There’s a lot more attention; you know, at Pitt, no one came to our games. Tony Conty: They don’t fill Heinz field. I lived right by there. Robbie Agnone: So, you know, there was no atmosphere there. The atmosphere here is just like any D-I program. The stadium’s a little bit smaller, but it’s the best atmosphere in DI-AA football. We have a lot of tradition here. Every year, it’s a winning program. My first year, we went 5-6, which was a disgrace to this program, but we turned it around last year. Just, there’s a lot of talent here. I think that the biggest thing is that, when you leave D-I, you don’t want to leave that atmosphere with the whole campus caring about football and you’ll get that here at Delaware. Tony Conty: Yeah, your game against Navy definitely proved that you belong on that scale. Obviously, we have the Appalachian State upset of Michigan that everyone has seen ad nauseam. How do you think that is going to change the landscape of college football for teams that are playing up, if you will? What do you think it is going to be like in 2008? Robbie Agnone: I think it caught the eye of some D-I programs, like when Maryland sees us on the schedule, I would think that they would say, “Hey, these guys can play”. If we don’t come out hard and play our game, we could get beat. It just goes to show that there’s not that much difference between good I-AA teams and Division I. On any given day, our best I-AA teams can take out a Division I team. Another big thing is in recruiting. You could get a lot of kids that are borderline going I-AA now. They would play right away and it’s good football. As far as going pro…if you’re good enough, they’ll find you. That’s one of the big things. I still hope they are still sleeping on us. They’ll think nothing of us and we’ll go in there and pull off the big upset. Tony Conty: Usually, we get the “every game is a big game” answer, but how do you approach these games any differently like you did with Navy last year or Maryland this year? Robbie Agnone: Every game is a big game. There is definitely a big feel to it. A lot of guys on our team who didn’t go D-I first have had Maryland circled on the calendar all year. We have a lot of guys from Maryland who were told by Maryland coaches “you aren’t good enough to play here”. We’re I-AA and we’ve got a chip on our shoulder. We were all told that we weren’t good enough to play with these guys. That’s what we’re out to prove: we’re just as good as anyone in the Nation. Tony Conty: 38.2. That was your average points last year under Joe Flacco and the offense. How do you move forward this year and build upon that? Robbie Agnone: We’re just going to have to, not forget about Joe, but just find other ways to do things. We’re not going to be able to depend on Joe just to go out and make every play like he did. Some of the stuff he did. He just made every play and made spectacular ones. We’re not going to be able to replace him, Omar (Cuff, Running Back) or Mike Byrne, who is with the Dolphins and was our Right Tackle. We are just going to go out, work out, and not think about all of that and just be ourselves. This team is going to be a little different. We might had to depend on more of a running game, use Screen Passes a lot more and just change up some stuff. We’ll do some more variations of the offense. Last year, we would just line up and beat the crap out of anyone in our league. We could score on anyone. I think that, this year, we are going to have to be a little more crafty and do some different things to put ourselves in the right situation and put guys in situations to make plays. Tony Conty: We have gone through a lot of tape. Personally, I find your best performance to be against Southern Illinois last year, not making as many catches but making the important ones. If you had to pick one memory from last season that best showcases your abilities, what would you pick? Robbie Agnone: I would definitely say that Southern Illinois is my best game, just because it was a more complete game. Against Navy, I had a better receiving game, but I didn’t block as well. I had a couple of plays that I wish that I could have over again. Southern Illinois, I thought that I showed that I am a great receiver, but also I showed that I could stick my nose in there and block when I’m needed and I’m a complete player. Tony Conty: Your catches and yards doubled from 2006 to 2007 and you remained healthy for most of the season. To what do you credit your minor learning curve? Robbie Agnone: My first season here, I got injured and missed three games early in the season, so that didn’t help. Most of it is my work ethic. I want to be a great player, so I go out there and work every day. I hit the weights hard. As far as the off-season and running, I’ve made great gains in strength and that brings confidence onto the field, too. With my work ethic, nobody’s out-working me. I go out every day with one goal and that is to be the best player that I can possibly be. I’ve done that my entire time in college. Having been behind Ben…just seeing him and having him teach me…I took all of the stuff that he taught me and took it into the off-season and worked on it and made great gains there. I think it’s just my work ethic and my will to be the best player that I can be. Tony Conty: Now, one of our favorite players was Rob Schoenhoft. We were big fans of his. We have another Division One transfer there and you have a lot of different Quarterbacks that could fight for playing time. What are your impressions of the new potential leaders of this offense? Robbie Agnone: All 3 of them are doing well in camp. We’re still waiting for one of them, with their play, to come out and say, “I’m the starter!”. The one thing with Rob and the other transfer Sean (Hakes, formerly of Akron) is that it’s really hard to just grasp and offense and feel comfortable with it. It’s tough to play consistent football at the Quarterback position if you don’t really feel comfortable with the offense, and I think that Rob is really starting to find a comfort level and you can really tell in some of the plays, when he’s checking down to the 2nd or 3rd receivers. He just looks more comfortable out on the field and more confident in himself. He’s going to have a great season. I think that he is going to surprise some people around here. Tony Conty: For you personally, when we look at overall athletics, pound for pound, tight ends and linebackers get credit for being the best athletes overall. What do you do to maintain a good size/speed ratio that pro scouts would covet? Robbie Agnone: It’s just the way I built. I hit the weights hard. I play a lot of basketball in the off-season. I golf and do a lot of stuff other than football. I just try to stay active. I really have no problem staying athletic. That’s the way I have always been my entire life. Tony Conty: Now, this is one of the best Tight End classes that we can remember for 2009 in our years of doing this. We look at tape of Travis Beckum, Chase Coffman, Brandon Pettigrew, Cornelius Ingram, and Ryan Purvis. It’s the Division I-AA thing that may hang over some scouts’ heads. What are you working on to make yourself a better overall football player? Robbie Agnone: I think the biggest thing for me is just blocking and showing that I am a physical player. Learning to be a physical player is the biggest thing I have changed since my Sophomore year. Learning how to play the game and being a meaner player. All those years being a Quarterback, I definitely wasn’t out there trying to kill somebody. Learning how to run an offense, knowing when to run out of bounds. Just showing that I am a physical player. My route running is as good as anybody’s in the nation. I can run routes and catch passes with the best of them. Just showing I can block is the biggest thing for me. Tony Conty: Speaking of physical, who are the most dominant defenders that you have faced in your career, either at Pitt or Delaware? Robbie Agnone: The safety from App. State, Corey Lynch, is one of the best players, not as far as physicality or just looking at him, but the guy just seemed to know every route I was running. Five yards before I would make my break for a route, he was jumping on stuff. He was just an excellent player. I really thought he was one of the best I ever played against, as far as his instinct and how smart of a player he was. We couldn’t get anything by him. He was jumping routes way before we could get into our breaks. The D-End from Richmond, Sherman Logan, is a very good player. He’s definitely a good challenge for me. I think I played pretty well against him last year, but he’s definitely a great player. Tony Conty: Now, we’ll get into the world of football right now, so he ask questions that we ask to everyone. Chime in on the Brett Favre situation. How do you think that all went down? Robbie Agnone: Well, I’m just glad it’s over so I can start hearing about some other players. Every time you pop ESPN or NFL Network, it’s just all you hear about is Brett Favre. I hope he does well. I know that he will. It’s Brett Favre. He’ll do well anywhere. I also hope the best for Aaron Rodgers, because that’s a tough situation to be in. Tony Conty: The other issue that has been going on for the past two years: Roger Goodell has done a great deal to focus on character on off-the-field issues. How do you feel that movement has gone? Robbie Agnone: I think he’s done a great job, just because a lot of fans can’t understand these guys getting arrested 10-15 times, stuff like that. It just looks bad on the league and I think he’s done a great job cleaning it up. To look good for the fans: that’s really why everyone else has a job. You have to keep the league looking clean and I think he’s done a good job. Hearing on ESPN how PacMan Jones is really focused in and cleaning himself up, it seems like he is doing a really good job to make the job look better. Tony Conty: Self-promote. Why should teams consider you in next year’s draft? Robbie Agnone: I feel that I am one of the best Tight Ends out there that they could take. You’re not going to get any better person on your team to be a teammate. I’m going to work to be the best player that I can be. Every day, I am going to come in and be a professional. I think that’s why a team should want me on their team.