Lewan ready to compete for Titans, watch 'Blind Side'

Lewan ready to compete for Titans, watch 'Blind Side'

May 30th, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - Professional

Tennessee Titans top draft pick Taylor Lewan, an offensive lineman from Michigan, answers questions at a news conference in Nashville in this May 9, 2014, file photo.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Former Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan was the 11th overall selection of the 2014 National Football League draft, picked earlier this month by the Tennessee Titans.

The 6-foot-7, 315-pounder and his rookie teammates began practicing with Titans veterans this week, and Thursday, Lewan was a guest of "Press Row" on ESPN Chattanooga's 105.1 The Zone.

Q: Has been the bigger adjustment to the NFL so far been the mental or physical aspect?

A: "There is a little piece of everything. There is a mental aspect, obviously, with the intricate details of the plays and the specific things, but physically, these guys know what they're doing and have been doing it for a long time. They know how to use their balance and weight against you, and if you're leaning too much one way, they will take advantage of that.

"You've got to be 100 percent all the time, and I'm in way better shape now than I was in college and already a better player."

Q: Last spring, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was getting asked about Jadeveon Clowney and the Heisman Trophy. He said Clowney may have had the big hit in the Outback Bowl but that he was contained for most of that game. Do you feel your performance against him aided your draft stock?

A: "I can't say for sure whether that's true or not. I know I took that game very seriously, and now I'll be playing him a bunch in my career and hopefully for a long time. There is a lot of respect I have for him, and he has a lot of respect for me, too. I will be excited about the opportunity about going against him."

Q: Were you surprised the Titans called your name, or had they been in contact with you behind the scenes?

A: "I talked to them a little bit and came here for a visit and sat down with the GM and the head coach. I went over X's and O's with the offensive coordinator and the O-line coach, so we were in contact to an extent, but you never know. With all the rumors and everything, it's amazing how much people don't know about the process that goes into getting drafted.

"No one knows what's going to happen except for that first pick. I could have been sitting there in the third round."

Q: How much did you follow mock drafts in the process leading up to it?

A: "Not at all. Not even a little bit. I had plenty of family and friends telling me all that stuff."

Q: What can Titans fans expect from you this fall?

A: "I'm coming in with Michael Roos and Michael Oher, who are very talented and seasoned tackles. My job is to come in here and compete, elevate their game and my game and learn the intricate details of playing the offensive line and hopefully vie for one of those starting jobs."

Q: Were you nervous that the incident of three misdemeanor assault charges you had several hours after the Ohio State game (the hearing in Ann Arbor has been delayed until June 16) might cause you to fall down the draft board?

A: "Honestly, no, I didn't. When these teams sat down with me for 15 minutes, they realized what kind of person I am. That's not how I conduct myself off the field. Off the field I am smiling and constantly talking, and I make friends wherever I go. That's the type of person I am.

"On the field, I do try to play mean and through the whistle and extremely aggressive, so it's easy to put that label on me, but I assume this will be resolved in a very positive manner, and I can't wait to get it done so I can focus on football 24/7."

Q: The fact "The Blind Side" was such a popular movie, is it kind of neat that Oher is the inspiration for the film and that you are in close contact with him every day?

A: "I have never seen the movie. I feel terrible. I told him how sorry I was, but I haven't seen it. He told me now that I know him, maybe I should watch it to figure out how much is real and how much is not real. We had a small conversation about it the other day, and he's just a great guy.

"He's definitely overcome some big things from what I hear, and I am happy to have him as a teammate and learn from him."

Q: What is the toughest thing about going through life as a 6-foot-7, 315-pounder?

A: "I would like to think I am handsome and tall, but at the same time people kind of stop what they're doing when they're eating in the food court when I walk by. I get stare-downs every once in a while."

Q: Taking Michigan out of the equation, who has the best uniforms in college football?

A: "Oregon has a lot of swag going on, but I definitely dig USC's uniforms. They are classy and a little older. I like them."

Q: You were 0-3 in your career against SEC teams. When you were at Michigan, did you hate hearing the SEC talk?

A: "Not necessarily, because they've won a lot of championships and deserve a lot of things. Until someone dethrones them, I have no problem giving them credit, because it's deserved."

Q: Who is the biggest country music star you've seen in Nashville so far?

A: "I haven't gone out once. Actually that's a lie, because I've been out one time. It was only for a short moment before it got hectic, so I got out of there."

Q: What's the best rivalry in college football, Auburn-Alabama or Michigan-Ohio State?

A: "No doubt it's Michigan-Ohio State."

Q: What makes it the best?

A: "The history of it. Unless you're a part of it, you can't even understand. There is fighting. It's dirty. It's nasty. It's unbelievable."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.