Jamie Graham, a Nashville native and fan favorite, will return to his original position at cornerback for the upcoming season after he showed off his tremendous versatility in 2008. Last year, was primarily a wide receiver, and he also saw time at running back and kick returner. For the year, he caught three touchdown passes and rushed for another. He talked about his physical and mental preparedness for returning to his old position, as well as why he chose to focus on football and the team's mindset in the wake of last year's success.
On his playing shape for cornerback
Actually I gained 8 pounds, so I'm 200 pounds now. I think it's a good thing. The weight lifting coach wanted me around this weight. I feel physically ready and as far as being mentally ready, I'm prepared to go in and play right now if we had to play right now. I think being at 200 I've still got my speed and my quickness and my agility skills to still go out there and play, so I still feel good.
On why he chose to focus on football
It was just so much going on, and I just felt that I'm here, I played basketball and it was fun, but my main focus was football coming in from the beginning, so I'd just go ahead and stick to it.
On whether he feels added pride being a Nashville native playing for the Commodores
Yeah, I do. It's just fun, because I'm on the side of the City Bus, so people call me, send me messages on Facebook. It's nice. I've got to talk to a camp tomorrow to let those guys it's possible to make it out of Nashville. It's not as hard as people think.
On the meaning of the bowl victory to the community
It was great. We've got some of the Tennessee fans around here to turn into Black and Gold fans, so we needed them to buy some tickets so they could get on the bandwagon. It was great for the city and the Vanderbilt fans who aren't in Nashville, and it was a stepping stone for the program. We needed this, it was the biggest thing to happen.
On the mindset of the team in the wake of last season
Last year, it was more about `Come on guys, let's win six games. Let's win six.' Now we've got a whole mindframe of `Let's go to a better bowl game.' The mindframe's a lot different around here. We've got a winning mentality. I'm glad we sent the seniors out on a good note, and guys like D.J. who've been here for a while and been that close to making it. Now we've got some young guys in with some experience, and we're all playing so it's a lot different.
On if he feels he can make the biggest impact at cornerback
I think it is. Seeing D.J. do it was the best thing that I've probably seen since I've been in college in the sense of seeing somebody who could go from being corner and go play wide receiver and be so fluent at it. It looked like he didn't lose a step. He didn't even have to practice it. He'd just go over there and do it. To be able to do that and move to cornerback, basically I'm kind of cheating because I know what kind of steps a wide receiver would take and how he's going to run certain routes.