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Beyond X's and O's with Tariq Woolen, UTSA DB

 

What is your biggest motivator?

  • “My biggest motivator is failure. I am not really scared to fail because I know that’s what builds you to be great, but it is just the fact that I strive to do great things and failing is something I do not like to do. So, I feel like failure is my biggest motivator to push me and keeps me on the right track.”

What is your day-to-day routine?

  • “I wake up at 6 a.m., do rehab, and go to morning practice. After practice, I get some treatment and then go home for a little bit and shower. My day starts with classes after that, and then around 5 p.m. I go back to the school and watch film with the cornerbacks. That is usually pretty much the end of my day.”

What is your pregame attire?

  • “So, we have a thing called the 'Leadership Council' and they get to choose whether we are casual and in our travel suits or if we want to wear a suit and tie. It really just depends. My favorite is the travel suits because it is more comfortable – it is just sweatpants and a jacket. I don’t always have time to tuck in my shirt and all that so I like being casual.”

So, you are a part of the leadership council?

  • “No ma’am. We have the leadership council, and then we have a thing called ‘Single Digits’ where you have to earn digits. I got voted to be a ‘single digit,’ which is something Coach Traylor implemented. So basically, our area code is 210, so the numbers 0, 1, and 2 are the core people, and then from 3-9 are really the guys that represent the brand of our team – the triangle that we represent. We have this thing called the triangle of toughness so those guys who were able to earn ‘single digits’ are the ones who represent the team brand.”

Who is your role model?

  • "My role model is my mother. Just seeing how she has worked every day since I was a young kid and seeing how hard she worked to provide for me and my older brother is what makes her my role model. The way she spreads love to other people, she is a loving person and just sweet. I just love her and the way she is. I just like to show love to the people around me and make sure the people around me feel good.”

What is your favorite college football memory?

  • “My favorite college football memory would be going into Memphis playing as the underdog. They were undefeated and we were undefeated, but they just came off a Mississippi State win. We were down 21-0. We got down super fast in the first half, but we fought back and ended up winning the game by 3 points.”

What are you most looking forward to the rest of the season?

  • “Honestly, I just like to be where my feet are. But we are already 9-0, so just going ahead and sweeping the slate in, trying to complete our mission, winning each day and taking it one day at a time. I just really want to finish undefeated because that is one of the hardest things to do in college football.”

You went from playing offense where you are getting hit, to playing defense where you’re doing the hitting. Those are two totally different mindsets for a player. Can you tell me about playing those two positions and how they’re different?

  • “I felt like as a receiver growing up, I was scared of getting tackled. All my life I was just catching the ball, running, trying to get away from people and not trying to get tackled. I just really didn’t like being hit. So, my mindset as a receiver was just to catch the ball and avoid being tackled. Now as a cornerback, you have to play with aggression. One thing that my old defensive coordinator did and now the new coaches have done is try to bring the aggressiveness out of me – you have to have a will to tackle and that is one thing I had to learn to do. I had to shift my mindset to hit people and get used to tackling guys. I just have to go in there making sure that I play with some anger to me and some physicality to me. That way, my mindset is switched to cornerback by adding those qualities to my game.”

Who is the best player you have ever played against?

  • “Playing cornerback for two seasons I would have to say Zack Wilson. We played them last year. He is pretty good.”

Who is a WR in the NFL you want to go up against?

  • “As a wide receiver, I always looked up to Julio Jones. I always liked the way he played, so I have to say it would be him.”

Is there an NFL player that you try to model your game after?

  • “I am a big fan of Jalen Ramsey. I like Richard Sherman, too. I just really watch a lot of Jalen Ramsey, so I kind of model my game after him. I know he is a big trash talker – I’m not really a trash talker, but on the standpoint of his aggressiveness, man coverage, and his willingness to tackle for his team, makes him one cornerback I want to model my game after.”

What do you look for when watching tape on the opposing team?

  • “I like to watch what plays the team is going to call based on the downs. Like on third down, I like to see who the main target is, and what the distance is. Like if it is third and short, I like to see what they do there, and then I look at what plays they like to run on first down versus second down. I also like to see whenever the ball is in the middle of the field, I focus on which guys they like to go to in that situation verses on one side or the other.”

Your position coach, Nick Graham, was a teammate of Senior Bowl Director of Football Operations, Michael Coe, in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. Can you tell me a little bit about being coached by a former NFL player as a first-year starter at CB, and what your plan was for the offseason as a second-year starter?

  • “Well, playing in the NFL, Coach Graham’s been there before. It has helped my game out a lot because he knows what all goes into the position. He has played the position through college and in the NFL, so it is easy to trust him. One thing I wanted to work on was coming out of my breaks and stuff like that. He helped me emphasize being low and making sure my pad level is low because I am a taller guy playing the position. He is really a motivator and made sure that I got the basis of the position right and got the easy technique things right. In the league, he learned it and has preached it on to us, and it makes learning the position a lot easier playing for him. After being a first-year corner, I am just working on my breaks and technique. Those are two things I have been working on a lot.”

If you could bring one teammate to the NFL with you, who would it be?

  • “I am going to have to go with my teammate Dadrian Taylor. He works so hard and just seeing the way he makes plays in the game. He is a single digit, too. He has also been my roommate since I got here. He earned a single digit last season and this year, and just seeing the way he plays and how hard of a worker he is – he is willing to lay it all on the line. He also shows a few traits of Tyron Matthieu – that’s what I like to call it, because he wears the number seven, too. He is one of my guys. I would like to take him to the NFL with me if I could.”

You’re stuck on a deserted island with three teammates – who are they?

  • “Like I said, Dadrian Taylor is one of the guys. Another guy is the o-lineman and my close friend, Kevin Davis. Then our quarterback, Frank Harris, he is one of my close friends, too. I would choose those guys because if we are on an island and there is no way out, we would be in a crucial situation. If I am stuck with those guys, we are having a good time. Frank is a pretty good leader and I feel like he could guide us the right way. Those are the three guys I would like to be stuck on an island with if I had to be.”