Getting to know… Nebraska’s Amukamara

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara stopped by the NFL Network studios Thursday, and we took some time to get to know him as he prepares for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Simon Samano: You’re name is Prince. It’s a cool name. What’s the background with that?
Prince Amukamara: It’s simple. My parents are from Nigeria, and it in the village there is a tradition that every first son of the Amukamara family gets the name Prince. There’s some royalty to it.

SS: Really? So you’re an actual prince.
PA: Yeah, in a sense. I’m part of a royal family. My grandfather was the king of the village. My dad was a first son, so his name is Prince also.

SS: Wow. How cool must that be to be a prince?
PA: I haven’t really taken it to heart yet. Once I learn more about it when I go back home to Nigeria, I’ll probably understand it more.

SS: Are you a fan of Prince?
PA: Am I a fan of myself? Or Prince the symbol?

SS: Prince the symbol, even though he’s no longer the symbol.
PA: Umm, yeah. I remember one time on Channel 3 in Arizona when I made a nice play at running back, they said Prince was partying like it was 1999. So, then I’m thinking, “Is that a Prince song?” I had to YouTube the song, and I liked it. And I like “When Doves Cry.”

SS: So, talking some football now, let’s set the record straight. You were a helluva running back in high school, and you went to Nebraska thinking you were going to play running back, right?
PA: Right.

SS: What happened? How’d you end up playing cornerback?
PA: It’s all in the recruiting game. You get told stuff that’s not necessarily going to happen. When I went up on my visit, I met with the running backs coach and thought I’d play the position. I committed to them a couple of months later, and when I went back, now I’ve visiting with the DBs coach. As soon as that happened, I asked coach (Bill) Callahan what was happening, and they told me I would play both sides (of the ball) – just to make me happy. So I stayed, but I wanted to transfer. When coach (Bo) Pelini and his staff came in (the next year), we talked, and he put me at ease, so I decided to stay.

SS: So when you look back, do you feel like you were duped?
PA: Yeah, manipulated, for sure.

SS: But it’s funny because it all worked out for you.
PA: Yeah, exactly.

SS: How long did it take for you to embrace playing corner?
PA: All I ever knew was running back and offense, and that’s how I thought I could showcase my talents the most. But then, when Coach Pelini came, I played nickel and dime, which is inside DB. And I started making plays and forcing fumbles and getting picks. That’s when I started believing in myself.

SS: Give you a chance to hype yourself now, because you rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior. How awesome would you have been as a running back at Nebraska?
PA: The sky is the limit for me. I think I would’ve had a lot of highlights. It would’ve been fun.

SS: As a way to showcase your running ability, do you hope to return kicks in the NFL?
PA: For sure. Any type of special teams, really. I love playing special teams, whether I help returning kicks or doing anything else.

SS: Do you wish you could play running back?
PA: Umm, no. I have no film. If I had a chance to be a starting running back or starting cornerback in the league, I would definitely choose corner with ease.

SS: Who do you emulate your game after?
PA: Nobody in particular. Even as a running back, I didn’t try to model my game after anybody. I just take different stuff from each player.

SS: You know Deion Sanders is going to give you a hard time for not answering with him, right?
PA: Yeah, I don’t mind it at all. I’m ready to talk to Deion.

SS: Is Deion somebody you’d like to emulate, or do you just have your own style?
PA: No one can emulate Deion, because Deion is Deion. He has a whole different game.

SS: Currently, Darrelle Revis is the guy considered to be the modern-day Deion. What do you think about him?
PA: I love his game. He’s physical, and he’s a ball hawk. Those are two abilities you need as a corner.

SS: The most famous Nigerian NFL player is Christian Okoye. And he was a running back. You know who he is?
PA: Yeah, I’ve heard of him. Didn’t he play for the Chiefs?

SS: Yeah, man. He did.
PA: He wasn’t the Nigerian Nightmare, was he?

SS: Yeah, he was!
PA: OK, cool. Yeah, I’ve heard his name a lot, but I’ve never met him.

SS: You ever seen any footage of him as a player?
PA: No, I haven’t.

SS: You need to make sure you do. He was a big dude. They didn’t call him the Nigerian Nightmare for nothing.
PA: (Laughs) OK, I will.

SS: Ndamukong Suh was one of your teammates at Nebraska. What are your thoughts on his impact last year in the NFL?
PA: He’s setting the bar high coming out of Nebraska. I’m just trying to follow his lead. Hopefully, some people will follow me, too.

SS: Are you guys friends?
PA: We’re associates.

SS: What does that mean?
PA: I mean, like, we don’t hang out on the weekend or anything. We never did. But I know if I ever text him or call him, he’ll return my call or text.

SS: Are you guys Facebook friends?
PA: No. I follow him on Twitter, though.

SS: Ah, what do you think of his tweets?
PA: I mean, he doesn’t tweet anything too extravagant. But he is very interactive with his followers.

SS: How are your tweets?
PA: My tweets are good, man. People should follow me. They’d love it. I’m very open. I like my followers to get to know me. I say good stuff.

SS: Is there a receiver in the NFL that you’re really looking forward to challenge yourself with?
PA: No, I’m just willing to challenge anybody, no matter who it is.

SS: Who do you think is the most dangerous receiver in the league?
PA: They’re all dangerous (laughs).

SS: Last thing. It clearly seems to be between you and LSU’s Patrick Peterson as the consensus 1-2 when it comes to corners…
PA: What does consensus mean?

SS: You know, most of the experts.
PA: OK.

SS: When you look at you guys, how do you compare to him?
PA: Well, just for the record, you’re the first person to ask me this.

SS: No I’m not.
PA: Psych! I’ve been asked this a million times. All I’ve seen him do is return. I haven’t really scouted him as a corner. We both bring different things to the table. I’m very physical, and I love to get in the receiver’s face and go up and get the ball. I’d also be a great asset to the community. I’m not looking to embarrass the organization. Character is thought of very highly in the NFL. Peterson is good, but I heard all you need is to make one club like you, and you’re good.

SS: Should teams rate you over Peterson?
PA: (Laughs) If a team wants a player who is going to compete and go out every Sunday and give them the best chance to win, yes, they should pick me.

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