Friday Q&A: Louisville defensive end Greg Scruggs

October, 23, 2009
10/23/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Greg Scruggs is starting at defensive end for Louisville as a sophomore. What's impressive about that is Scruggs didn't play football until his senior year at St. Xavier High School. Before then, he was perhaps the most physically-imposing member of the school's marching band at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds.

Scruggs talks about how he went from drummer to pass rusher and about going home to play Cincinnati on Saturday in this week's Friday Q&A:

What will it be like for you going back to Cincinnati and playing?

Greg Scruggs: I'm excited about it. I'm going to have about 40 people coming to the game. I can't wait to get up there. We need this win, and it would be good for our program, a morale boost. I've got teammates from high school that play for UC, and a bunch of my high school games were played at Nippert Stadium, so I'm used to playing there. So it will be just like a homecoming for me.

Did Cincinnati recruit you heavily?

GS: They did, but as with most players and their hometowns, I was trying to get out and see different things. There was nothing that UC could have shown me on my official visit. I'd been to the best hotel, I'd been on campus, I played on their field. So I really was trying to go somewhere new. Coach (Kerry) Coombs did recruit me pretty hard, but I wanted to experience college in a different city.

Can you believe the Bearcats are No. 5 in the country?

GS: Not at all, because my perception of UC coming up was not a good one. I'm not knocking UC, but that was just the facts. So in these recent years, I'm like,whoa, man they're doing good. Good for them that they're successful and turned things around. But no, I can't believe it still when I look at the rankings and stuff.

What do you have to do to slow down Cincinnati's offense?

GS: My main challenge is to rush the passer. I don't know whether (Tony) Pike is playing or not, but if a backup quarterback is in there especially, just rush the passer. make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket and do things he doesn't want to do. If he's comfortable and can see downfield and throw to his receivers, then they can be a deadly offense.

You've only been playing football for three years. How far along have you come?

GS: Oh, light years. Now I'm pass rushing against some 6-foot-7, 315 pound linemen and I'm doing things. And I look back at my high school tapes, and my very first game I went against a 6-foot, 250-, 260-pound guy, and I was having trouble. I've come light years, just with coaching. It's been a great journey that I've been traveling. I've had so much support from people here, giving me confidence and telling me I could be the best player on the field

Why did you decide to play football as a senior in high school? Were you not interested in football before then?

GS: I was more interested in the band. It wasn't that I wasn't interested in football, because I had actually tried out for a Little League team when I was younger and I was going to be the quarterback, which so happens to be the position I always wanted to play.

But my mom was a single mom with four kids, so she couldn't keep traveling back and forth across the city, so that's where that died off. So then I got in the band, and through high school I looked at it as, all these people have eight, nine years on me of weightlifting, football, and mentally they're ahead of me. So I didn't really want to place myself in that position. But once people started telling me that I could get a scholarship and I really should try it, I was decided to go at it. And when I did that, the transition wasn't hard. Yeah, the hitting, mentally, that stuff is here and there, but you get used to that. After the first couple weeks of hitting, I got the jitterbugs out and the transition was pretty smooth.

I hear you're still a pretty mean drummer. Is that true?

GS: Music moves me. And a lot of people say when music moves you, that's when the best music coms out, when you're really passionate about something. Playing the drums, just hearing any type of music, whether it's jazz, country, rock, R&B, it moves me.

And when I hear a beat, I like to play that beat and if it's a beat I really like, then that's when the nasty side comes out. I hear things in my head, and whatever I hear in my head I can put it on drums. That's just how I am. I don't stick to the sheet music. I make stuff up, but it goes along with the music that's being played.

Do you have a drum set in your dorm room?

GS: No, drums sets are expensive. I wish I had one, and I wish we could build a soundproof room around here somewhere so I could go play my quads. That's still fun. Whenever I want to relieve stress, I go drum.

So where do you do your drumming?

GS: Oh, you take anything. That trash can can be my next drum. It's anything I feel like beating that day. I don't do it as much as I would like to, but I've still got it. My high school came down here and played a couple of weeks ago, and I went and picked up the drums and played for the whole crowd. So I've still got it.

Do you see a career in music being in your post-football future?

GS: Not as anything major. My brother's best friend is a popular DJ in Cincinnati, and I love going with hi, and mixing tracks and learning new things about music. If I could help him out and do something like that or if I ever became a big enough celebrity to do my own thing, I'd love to do so. But as a career? Nah, it's not in my future. My future is business and making a difference in somebody's life.

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