Saturday, September 24, 2011
Football journey: Antwaun Molden
By Mike Reiss
Brett Davis/US PresswireAntwaun Molden started his NFL career with the Houston Texans.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It makes sense to think we’ll see more of Patriots cornerback Antwaun Molden on Sunday.
The Bills run a spread offense, which in turn, should have the Patriots’ sub defense on the field for most of the game. That increases the likelihood that Molden sees more playing time.
The soft-spoken Molden was claimed on waivers from the Houston Texans on Sept. 1. He is a bigger cornerback (6-1, 198) whose style of play fits the Patriots’ scheme alteration in 2011 which calls for more man coverage.
Molden, who grew up in Warren, Ohio, shared his football journey this week with ESPNBoston.com.
When he first started playing football: “It was Pee Wee league, I was 11, and played for the Little Browns in Warren, Ohio.”
Why he first started playing: “I was a baseball player, and someone approached me after our Little League championship and asked, ‘Have you ever thought about playing football?’ He saw my speed from running the bases. I said I hadn’t thought about it. He went over to talk to my grandmother and asked if I could try it. She said OK. We put our little deposit down, I got fitted for my big helmet, my big shoulder pads, and it took off from there.”
First position: “Tailback.”
Growing up in Warren, Ohio: “It was tough. I was raised by my grandmother and I thank God for her. She was a lady who [devoted] the second half of her life to take care of my sister and me. Warren is known for being rough, [it’s next to] Youngstown. The main thing I had to do was stay focused and put myself around positive people, those who would encourage me and help me along the way to becoming a successful person that I am at this point of time. There is a lot of history in Warren. We’re just scratching the surface.”
Top memories from playing at Warren G. Harding High under Ted Ginn Sr. as a receiver and cornerback: “We were ranked No. 2 in the country. We had an ESPN High School Game of the Week, we played Massillon Washington. We came back to beat them in the fourth quarter of my senior year. So it was a great rivalry; it started in the early 90s and they canceled the rivalry because there was a riot at the 1990 game. It was a 10-year wait. At that time, we were undefeated and they were undefeated. Other than the state championship, I think that was the most memorable game.”
Making the transition to college: “I walked on at the University of Toledo, redshirted my freshman year, and my second year I was second-string strong safety. I wasn’t on scholarship, and my grandmother and I, we couldn’t afford to stay at Toledo. After three semesters, Eastern Kentucky offered me a scholarship and within 48 hours I made a transition from one place to another. My high school coach, Robert Andrews, used to go there. He has friends there and put in a word for me, which was a blessing. It was a four-year scholarship and I graduated there in 2007.”
Top memories at Eastern Kentucky: “Definitely the OVC [Ohio Valley Conference] Championship. When I first got there, it was a struggle to win. We were at the bottom of the ranks and we worked our way up to the top. It was hard work and I got to experience the tough times and good times there.”
Entering the NFL as a third-round draft choice of the Texans in 2008: “Entering my senior year, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie and I were battling for the number 1 and 2 spots [among prospects]. I broke my hand and couldn’t make as many plays as I wanted to make, so I dropped off. At that point, I didn’t know how it would go, I didn’t know if I would be drafted. After the season, I was invited to the Texas vs. Nation game and my stock went up there. I went to the combine, ran 4.38, and put up some top numbers in every category, top 3 percent. I remember getting the call from [Texans general manager] Rick Smith and him saying ‘Congratulations, you’re a Texan.’ It was a great, great experience.”
Summing up three years with the Texans in which he played 31 games (0 starts): “It was definitely fun, but at the same time I had four defensive coordinators and four defensive backs coaches. I was waiting for that opportunity. But in terms of the environment, I loved the Texans, loved the players, loved the coaches, they were good people. At the same time, it’s a business.”
Landing with the Patriots: “I’m still getting acclimated. Every guy has a responsibility and they handle that responsibility. I like that. And everyone is accountable. That’s one thing I take pride in, working hard. That’s what these guys around here do for each other – make each other better, on the field and also off the field.”
Visiting with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium before the 2008 draft: “When I first came in this year, I was like ‘I remember this place.’ The first person I met was Bill Belichick. He met me at the door. He’s very straight-forward and I’m looking forward to working for a person like him.”
Mentors in his career: “Definitely Robert Andrews, my high school coach. I never had a father figure and he took me under his wing at the age of 14. That’s around the mark when kids start heading the wrong way, but he nurtured me like a father-son [relationship]. He always encouraged me along the way. At the same time, he was always tough on me – very, very tough on me. He’s a father to me; he was my coach, mentor. He was the utility man in my life and I thank God for him.”