July 22, 2007
Student-athletes from all 12 Atlantic Coast Conference schools met with media from around the nation Sunday at the annual ACC Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. Below are quotes from Georgia Tech seniors Philip Wheeler and Tashard Choice:
Senior / Linebacker
On teammate and roommate, running back Tashard Choice, being somewhat under the radar:
“I am not sure why that is. If it were up to me, if I were voting, he would be an All-American. He carried us at times last season. I think he deserves a lot more credit than what he gets. He’s a polished runner. He has great vision. He’s tough. I have played against him for a couple years and I know how good he really is.”
On sharing an apartment with Tashard Choice:
“We’re both pretty clean and neat people. Usually, big guys are slobs, but not me.”
On being a leader on the defensive unit this season:
“I feel very comfortable as the defensive leader. I pride myself on doing the best against the best. I like the challenge of being a defensive leader. I am comfortable with that role.”
On getting back to the ACC Championship game this season:
“We have to work hard, just like we did last season. We have to finish strong in the fourth quarter. That’s big to us.
“We knew what we could do (last season). Getting to the ACC Championship was no surprise to us. Our team and our fans knew what we were capable of. I think it was probably more of a surprise to the media.
“We are determined to get there. We have to realize as a team that getting there is not just going to be handed to us.”
On defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta:
“I think he is the best defensive coordinator in the country. He has a good eye for talent. He knows what to do with his talent. He knows how to expose or use our strengths. He is a great guy first of all and he really knows the game of football.”
On playing and going to school in Atlanta:
“I love the city. It’s really a great place. There is always so much to do and the people there recognize you and are supportive.”
On the ACC in 2007:
“I don’t think the league is down. I think the ACC is one of the toughest leagues in the nation. I think we have some of the best teams in the nation. I think Georgia Tech can be one of the top teams in the league. I think we are one of those teams that have a chance to go to the ACC Championship Game.”
Senior / Running Back
On the passing game without Calvin Johnson:
“I think our passing game has a chance to be better. With the experience of the offensive line, the balance of the wide receivers and with Taylor Bennett at quarterback, we have the potential to be a better passing team this year.”
On quarterback Taylor Bennett:
“Having Taylor step up last year in the Gator Bowl will be a big help for us this year. That experience will really help him going into this season. Taylor is not the same type of quarterback as Reggie (Ball). He’s more of a drop-back passer. He reads the field well. He reads defenses well. He’s a real student of the game. I think he’ll get the ball where it needs to go.”
On why he led the ACC in rushing but received very little publicity:
“There are some really good backs in the ACC and they deserved the publicity that they received. And we had one of the best receivers in college football history and he deserved the publicity. He was the best player I’ve ever been around, the best I’ve ever seen. As long as my teammates know what type of player I am and what I can do, I’m happy.
“When the magazines say I am underrated or that I’m a sleeper, that’s cool with me because I’ve been in that role my whole life. But when the game is on the line, I like to step up. That’s what I take pride in. This year I’ll get more publicity, more of the spotlight, so we’ll see how I do in that role.
“The attention last year was on Calvin and on Reggie. That was fine. I just like to play and I just want to win.”
What happened in the ACC Championship loss to WakeForest?
“To be honest with you, I’m still really upset about that game. Getting back to the championship game is something I think about all the time. I have thought about that every time I worked out this summer.”
On talking on and off the field:
“I talk with the best of them. I don’t know why I talk so much. Sometimes I tell myself to be quiet, but I just enjoy talking. I was like that when I was five or six-years old. That comes from just having passion for the game.”