April 25, 2009
BERKELEY - Following are excerpts from a teleconference call between Alex Mack and local media conducted on April 25 after Mack was selected Saturday by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 21 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.
RE: You were joking around the other day saying how you weren't even going to watch the draft. Were you even watching the draft when you went at No. 21?
"I was. Right around No. 16 I started to sit down and get really, really into it. Lucky for me, it went until No. 21, and I got to be relaxed."
RE: Can you talk about your reaction when you heard your name? Can you kind of describe the scene and what happened?
"It was really amazing. I was sitting down on my couch and I got a call from the GM, and he said that they were going to put my name in during the next four minutes and to hold all your calls for [head] coach [Eric] Mangini. He got on and he told me that he was thrilled to have me and it was time to get to work, and to play the role that I can. After that, I was able to hang up on the phone and realize that I'm a Cleveland Brown. Right after that the TV announced it, and it was loud."
RE: Any coaches, teammates, family ... who did you have at the house there?
"My mom and dad, my friends from Santa Barbara, I had an old college roommate that played baseball here, and some of the old football players I played with, some Cal staff members, some of the strength coaches and a few old teammates. It was really fun."
RE: We talked about some of the old draft history of centers. You're the earliest center picked in the last decade and one of the earliest picked in the 43 years of the draft. Does any of that mean something to you?
"I have some big shoes to fill and high expectations of myself. When it's time to play a game, it's time for me to do well. It's just a matter of me coming up there and getting to work."
RE: Wouldn't you rather play center, do you have a preference, or do you just want to play, period?
"I just want to play, period. If they want me at guard, I'm happy to do that. If they want me to play center, I'm up for the challenge."
RE: When you were talking the other day about your travels for workouts wasn't Cleveland one of the most difficult ones to get to. Is that right? Is that the one you went through Denver and you had all that trouble with?
"Yeah, Cleveland was a very last minute thing [inaudible]. Last minute Cleveland called me up and they wanted to fly me out. It was one of those things you know you have to do, so I went up there and had a good meeting with everybody, and liked the facilities and everything, so I'm very happy I went."
RE: How recent was that trip? Was it in the last week?
"That was Thursday of last week, or two weeks ago, or whatever. That was about it."
RE: Did you get any feel while you were there that they would take you?
"They said they liked me, but they weren't sure when they would be able to take me. That was pretty much the standard response from every team. They like you as a player and they thought I would be great fit, but they weren't sure where they would be in the draft."
RE: When they started to trade down a little bit, did you think that maybe they might be the team?
"When they did the first trade down, I thought `okay, that's nothing special.' It kind of got lost [inaudible], but all of a sudden it was the Cleveland Browns at No. 21 [inaudible]. It kind of snuck up on me, so I was really surprised and happy."
RE: Do you know what's next? Did they tell you when you will go out there to do media stuff?
"I fly out today."
RE: Do you have relatives in Cleveland or anywhere near there?
"I have a lot of family in Ohio. I've been to Ohio before."
RE: How far from Cleveland?
"I don't know, actually. I flew into Cleveland and then drove out there, but I was a little kid, so I didn't actually do it myself. Unfortunately, I have no idea. But as far as I'm concerned, I've been to Ohio, and I like the people so I'm fired up to be back in Ohio where my family is from."
RE: You made the decision to come back for your final year at Cal. How much has that paid off for you at this point?
"I'm very happy I came back for my senior year. It was probably one of the smartest decisions of my life. I'm very grateful for the people that pointed me in the right direction."
RE: Where do you think you would have gone if you would have come out last year?
"In a best-case scenario, mid-second round. And that would be at the very best for someone who really thought I was a good player, a diamond in the rough kind of thing. But definitely not this high, not this good. I'm in a good spot, and I'm very happy I stuck around."
RE: You said you didn't have a whole lot of offers from major schools when you came out of high school. When you got to Cal, did you ever think that this day would ever come that you would be a first round draft pick in the NFL or ever play in the NFL?
"Maybe my senior year, or maybe around my junior year. It took a little time. It was after my first year of playing during my redshirt sophomore season when I started and was first-team All-Pac-10 that I began to think about if I had a future at the next level. It's turned out pretty well for me."
RE: Does it mean anything to you that you are the first pick of a new coach's regime. Mangini comes in there, I mean he's been a head coach before, but this is his first major draft pick for Cleveland and you're the first guy picked. Does that mean anything to you?
"I'm just ready to get to work and do the best that I can. It's always good to have a coach that has faith in me, and I hope to fulfill his expectations."