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Just two years removed from one of the finest seasons for a defensive end in NCAA history, South Florida defensive end George Selvie is looking to reclaim his sophomore form this season; a sophomore year where he amassed 59 tackles, 31.5 for a loss and 14.5 sacks.
Last year, Selvie was reduced to just 43 tackles, 13.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks; not exactly the kind of year he envisioned. When the season ended, it was time for Selvie to make a decision about his football future. And after weighing his options and talking with multiple people, he felt it was in his best interest to stay at South Florida and improve his stock for the NFL.
Chris Steuber: Why did you decide to stay at South Florida for another year?
George Selvie: I had some unfinished business. I had a great sophomore season, and last year I didn’t have the season I wanted. I haven’t won a championship yet, so I felt like I should come back for my senior year, have a better season, win a championship and go out on top.
CS: You did have an outstanding sophomore season and collected 14.5 sacks. I’m sure that if you had a similar output last season, you would have entered the NFL Draft. But you had just 5.5 sacks in 2008, and you mentioned that there was some unfinished business – can we expect a sack total this year that rivals your sophomore output?
Selvie: That’s what I wanted to have, but it’s a lot of hard work to get back to what I did during my sophomore season. I tried last year, but I just didn’t get there. We have a lot of great people on defense; we have some good D-Linemen on the other side. I’m sure I’ll get some attention at the beginning of the year [from the opposition], but hopefully other guys can make some big plays, and then the focus will go on everybody. That’s what I’m hoping will happen.
CS: What did the opposition do differently last year – were they chipping on you or double-teaming you more? What exactly did they do that didn’t allow you to have success?
Selvie: I got all of that. I got double-teamed, they had the tight end stay in and block, running backs were chipping, guards were coming out with tackles; I got a lot of double teams last year, but that’s no excuse. You have to play the game, and that’s what I have to do this year. They might throw that stuff at me again this year, and I beat a couple of double teams and a couple of triple teams last year. It’s hard to do that all the time, so I just have to go out there and play hard.
CS: What have you been working on this offseason, physically and mentally, that will prepare you for your senior season?
Selvie: Just being more physical; using my hands – being more dominant with my hands. Most people say that I’m not that great against the run, but as a sophomore I had 31.5 tackles for a loss. I just want to go out there and play physical and be more dominant against the run.
CS: You enter this season as the nation’s career leader in tackles for a loss with 61. That statistic shows how dominant you are behind the line of scrimmage. Do you take pride in being the career leader in that category?
Selvie: Yeah, it’s a great feeling. I consider myself a run stopper first, so having those tackles for a loss feels good to me. I like getting in the backfield and being disruptive; stopping a play before it has a chance to develop.
CS: The Big East Conference has come a long way over the years, and there are some really good programs that you guys play. How big of a challenge is it for you to go up against those teams on Saturdays?
Selvie: The Big East has always been known for its great offensive players. This year they say the conference is down on superstars, but the Big East has always been challenging. We’ve always had some great games playing on Thursday and Friday nights; it’s a tough conference. Everybody can beat everybody in the Big East, and this year they say it’s wide open. And it’s wide open; there isn’t a front-runner in the Big East. We’re looking to take advantage of that and we’re looking to be that front-runner in the Big East and dominate.
CS: Take me back for a moment. I asked you about staying at South Florida for your senior year, but how close were you, if at all, to entering the NFL Draft?
Selvie: I talked to my family and my coaches, and we were trying to figure out what was best for me. I wasn’t really that close to entering the NFL Draft. I knew it wasn’t for me at that point. A lot of people told me it was my best opportunity to just go and see what happens, especially with the salary cap and all of that. But in the end it was my ultimate decision to come back to school. I graduate next month, I’ll have my degree, I’ll go out there and play some good football and hopefully I’ll get drafted next year.
Selvie struggled last year against double teams, but looks to improve this season.
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CS: Did you apply for a draft grade from the NFL Advisory Board during the process?
Selvie: I did, and Coach Leavitt talked to me about it, and he said it wasn’t too good. That’s all I had to hear.
CS: That’s more motivation for you this season, isn’t it?
Selvie: Yes it is.
CS: The 2009 draft was loaded with hybrids, guys who can play standing up or with their hands in the dirt. When I look at your frame and skill set, you fit the hybrid profile very well. Where do you think you project best as an NFL player, OLB or DE?
Selvie: Oh, I really don’t know; it’s up to the scouts. But I’d love to stand up and rush off the end a little bit, it seems kind of fun. Those guys get all of the sacks, guys like [DeMarcus] Ware and [Shawne] Merriman. I also like having my hand in the dirt. It’s a good time down there in the trenches.
CS: Getting away from football for a moment, I read something on your bio that astonished me, “A Buick rolled off a car jack and onto your head as an infant.” Please explain.
Selvie: Well, I was just a little kid outside, a one year old being bad – just hanging out. My cousin got in the car; the car was on the jack and it fell off the jack and onto my head. I have like an indent in my head and a scar on my left side [from the incident]. I don’t remember it, I just hear stories, but it actually did happen.
CS: George, I think you’re lucky to be here today don’t you think?
Selvie: [Laughs.] Yes I am, I’m blessed.
CS: What did you think when you heard that story?
Selvie: I heard it when I was young, so I didn’t really believe it. At first, I used to tell people that my mom hit me with a car and she didn’t like that. I knew I had this scar on my head, but I really couldn’t believe it. That’s an amazing story though, a car falling on a baby’s head and he’s still here to talk about it.
CS: I came across another strange thing on you on YouTube; it was you being hypnotized.
Selvie: [Laughs.] Oh man, I don’t want to talk about that.
CS: Was that for real?
Selvie: [Laughs.] Yeah, it was for real. I actually got hypnotized two years in a row at the bowl games.
CS: How did you get coaxed into that?
Selvie: The first time I went on stage and just did it. The second time I was in the crowd and it happened. I started breathing and relaxing and it just happens to you.
CS: Do you remember what happened?
Selvie: I don’t really remember much of anything, but I did see the videos and it’s pretty disturbing.
CS: Luckily for you, the offensive tackles you face on the field don’t have that kind of power over you.
Selvie: [Laughs.] Yeah.
Not highly recruited out of high school, Selvie still looks to prove he was overlooked.
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CS: Getting back to football, you weren’t highly recruited coming out of high school, and you didn’t receive much attention at all. All of a sudden, you explode on the scene and end up with this tremendous college career. Do you have a chip on your shoulder because you weren’t heavily recruited?
Selvie: There was [a chip on my shoulder] coming into college. Some of the teams we play, like West Virginia and UCF, I got looked at by them [coming out], but they didn’t offer me a scholarship. Everybody said I was too small, but I was always a hard worker. I always knew that I would do well in college, regardless of what I did. Every time we play those teams, I jack it up for them.
CS: A guy that you remind me of, and I make this comparison with a lot of guys that have your size and athleticism, is Jevon Kearse. Is there a guy in the NFL right now that you pattern your game after?
Selvie: Yes there is, Dwight Freeney. I love watching Dwight Freeney; he’s a monster out there. He can hit double spin moves; he’s a shifty guy. He does whatever he has to do to get on the back of the quarterback. I actually had the chance to meet him when the Super Bowl was in Tampa. That was a good time talking with him, and I got some pointers from him. I really appreciated that; he’s my idol in football. I really like him.
CS: Do you try to incorporate any of his game in your game, or is it just an admiration that you have for him?
Selvie: Yes, I watch him. I try to pattern my game after his. I can’t do it like he does it; it’s his game, but I try my best and I work hard at it. I try to put it out there on Saturdays.
CS: Speaking of Saturdays, from the time that you arrived at South Florida up until now, how has the football fan base transformed at USF?
Selvie: It’s changed a lot. When I first arrived here, you couldn’t get your own parents to come to the game. That’s not the case now. The stadium is packed, at least 40,000 people now. Back then, I don’t know how many were there, but it was really empty. The stadium has grown, the fan base is really big; two years ago we were like the No. 1 fan base that grew, and it grew really big. It’s nice to have a real college atmosphere at the stadium now. It tells us that we’re moving up another level in college football.
CS: You guys have some good senior power coming back this season, and you face a tough Big East Conference. What do you expect from your team this year, and is there a bowl game in your future?
Selvie: Yeah, a bowl game is definitely in our future. But we just go out there and play hard. We have a lot of people coming back on offense; we have Matt Grothe back, a lot of receivers and a stable running back. On defense, we have some DBs and a linebacker back. Our defensive line is stacked; we’re going to be good. We have a new defensive coordinator in Joe Tresey and an offensive coordinator in Mike Canales. They’re excited for this season, looking to open up their playbook and we’re just ready to get out there.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com.