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Q&A with Joaquin Gonzalez

Oct. 5, 2000

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (www.hurricanesports.com) – –

Q: What is your motivation in regards to returning Miami to its glory days?

A: That’s why I came here in the first place. But watching what this program went through – where it’s at now and where I want it to be, I think that’s one of the biggest motivations.

Q: You turned down academic scholarships at a handful of Ivy League schools to walk-on at Miami, why?

A: I bleed green and orange. I’ve seen this program go from the bottom to the top to the bottom to the top. I’ve been here for the great days and been here for a couple bad days and I just wanted to be part of this team and the brotherhood and family atmosphere that there is here. That was the big key in me making my decision to come here.

Q: You won BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after the 1998 season – how are you able to build on that successful of a year?

A: I never expected that. I came in here after my redshirt year, got a scholarship but never expected to probably be in the two deep – that was the big thing. But I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and ended up starting my redshirt freshman year. At the end of the season I got nominated and was BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. That was a big thing. I never expected it but I’m happy it happened to me. All of the hard work I did that summer and things like that finally paid off. I was just happy to receive that and to continue with my success is to keep working hard everyday. Every time I step on that field, I feel I still haven’t won anything and I still have to prove myself. I think that’s how I go out there and that’s why I continue to be successful out there.

Q: What is your most memorable on the field and off the field moment over the past few years?

A: On the field moment is definitely when we beat UCLA. The crowd was coming down on the field and just picking up guys. It was just such a great feeling to be part of this team when we had beaten one of the top teams in the nation. We banished their national championship hopes. That was definitely a big, big time football game and to not only be a part of it but to actually play in it and do as well as I did was definitely one of the biggest moment’s I’ve seen on the field here at the Orange Bowl.

As for off the field, I don’t know – everything is so football related. Hopefully the best will be to come December 14th when I graduate.

Q: Can you put into words how excited you are for this Saturday’s match up again Florida State?

A: It’s hard to put into words. If you’re not excited this week, there is something wrong with you. Everyone knows the significance of this game and everybody knows that this is big-time football. This is why people come to the University of Miami – for games like this. It’s tough to put into words how I feel about this game and how I feel about going into this week.

I can tell you how I’m trying to take it. I’m trying to stay cool and collected because when you stick your head too much into things you tend to be forgetful. I’m treating this like any other week and just concentrating on the little things technique-wise, going up there and studying a lot of film and trying to treat this like a regular game. But when you sit back and look at it, it’s not. It’s as big a game as there has ever been here in Miami and a win over this team (Florida State) will put us back in the hunt we want to be in.

Q: Which NFL players have you modeled your style of play after?

A: Definitely when I look at the NFL I want to be like guys like Leon Searcy – that’s why I carry his number (73) – also Tony Boselli. Jacksonville has some good guys and they are very technique oriented. You look at the way they play football and they are very sound technique-wise and that is something I work to be very good at.

Q: What are some of your pre-game rituals?

A: This sounds kind of weird but I always put my mom’s name on my girdle and my dad’s name. Mom is always on the left quad and Dad is always on the right quad. I always put on my right side pads first and then my left – little stupid things that I do. I always light a candle whether it is a home or away game and say a prayer. Whether we’re headed to the hotel or getting on a plane the last thing I do is say a prayer.

Q: Who are the most vocal team leaders in the locker room on game day?

A: Definitely Al Blades is one of those guys that not only lead by example, but he’s a big hoorah guy. He’s the type of guy that’s going to pick the team up and create that sense of urgency and a sense of “I can’t wait to get out there.” He’s one of those guys that build that fire and makes you just want to run out there and play some football. I’m happy to be part of this team and happy to have guys like Al Blades. He not only pumps you up but he’s a great guy to see play and a great guy to talk to. He’s one of those characters on a team that you want to be a part of.

Q: If you weren’t playing football every Saturday, how would you spend your weekends?

A: Probably tailgating for the University of Miami games, watching the kids play football. I’m happy to be on the field now but I can’t wait for those days of tailgating to come around.