When I interviewed Buffalo Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller(notes) last weekend after an adidas photo shoot, he was very concerned about the College World Series — his beloved Clemson Tigers were down in a game they would eventually lose. "They're playing right now, and they're losing to our rival, South Carolina — that makes it even worse!"
At Clemson, Spiller was used to success. He finished his collegiate career as the second player in NCAA history (Reggie Bush(notes) being the other) with at least 2,500 yards rushing, 1,500 yards in kickoff returns, 1,000 yards receiving and 500 yards in punt returns. Taken ninth overall in the 2010 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, Spiller will go forward as one of the game's most versatile players; he has the potential to lead his team in several categories. His scholastic accomplishments have been just as impressive — he graduated in 3½ years with a degree in sociology, yet again proving his need to excel at everything he tries. Next stop: climbing the NFL ladder. Here's Part 1 of Spiller's Shutdown Corner interview.
Shutdown Corner: You just did a photo shoot for the adidas adiZero Scorch cleat — what do you like about the new shoe?
C.J. Spiller: I signed with adidas because they had the lightest shoe out there. That's what I was looking for when I decided what company I wanted to go to, and the Scorch is 8.6 ounces. I asked them if I could try it out. I went out there [on a field] and did everything that I knew I was going to do as a running back. It felt comfortable on my foot, so I figured that this was the best company to go with.
SC: Since you and Reggie Bush are two of the shoe's primary endorsers, I should ask you about the constant comparisons.
CJS: It's an honor. Me and Reggie love the game, we're real close, we talk often. Like I always tell people, I think any running back ... with Reggie, he's done a good job since he's been in the NFL. I have yet to play a down. So, you know, it's great to be amongst the names, to be mentioned amongst those guys, but at the end of the day, you can't try to go out there and try to do what they do. You just have to go out there and play your game, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.
SC: All indications are that you're performing as advertised in minicamps, which is no surprise, but I'd be interested to know what the biggest transition from college to pro has been for you?
CJS: Of course, the speed [of the game] has been the biggest difference. And then, you always hear about the business, and until you get there, you don't get the full understanding of what it's about. That's kind of what I went through since I've been here. It's a business, and if you don't care of yourself, you don't go out there and do your job, they'll find somebody else that will. I've just been taking it one day at a time, trying to learn as much as I can from the older guys, and learn the playbook.
SC: New Bills head coach Chan Gailey is known as a guy who will bring college offensive concepts to the NFL with success. Specifically in your case, I'm wondering how the Bills have explained your role to you, since the Gailey offense seems like the kind where you'd be able to do just about everything you're good at.
CJS: I really haven't sat down with the coaches, and me and my agent haven't seen how I'll be used in the offense, or how I'll be used on the team. That's something that'll be coming up in the coming weeks, when we start getting into the contract negotiations. So, we understand what type of offense he has, because I went against it against for two years while I was at Clemson [and Gailey was at Georgia Tech]. It'll be a very explosive offense, and as long as we're winning, that's the only thing I really care about.
CJS: I've been watching him at practices and stuff. I've been learning from him. He's a great player, he's going to do great for us. We're going to need him and Marshawn [Lynch] so I'm really looking forward to working with both guys this season.
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