COURTESY OF CINCINNATI BENGALS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
How did it feel to get that call from the Bengals? And describe what it's like officially to be teammates with Joe Burrow?
"Man, just getting the call from my favorite team in the NFL, it's just surreal. Being able to call myself a Cincinnati Bengal – it's crazy. Being able to play with Joe – he's a guy with great character. He tore it up on the college field, and I know he's going to tear it up in the league. I'm looking forward to building that chemistry with him, and going out there and tearing up defenses."
How long have the Bengals been your favorite team?
"Ever since A.J. Green got there. I've been a fan of him since he was at Georgia, and once he got there I switched over to a Bengals fan."
What do you like about A.J.?
"He's a guy that plays with grit. He's a guy that (can get) jump balls, and his body control is unbelievable. I actually model my game after him."
What do you think about being his teammate?
"Man, it's crazy. I was just talking about this with my good friend. I was like, 'Man, I could end up at the Bengals and be his teammate one day...' Now that this moment is here, it's just surreal."
What was it like waiting overnight and seeing what happened today?
"Last night obviously I wanted my name called. But my mentality is just that whenever I get my name called, I know a team is going to get a hard worker, and a guy that's just going to come in and grind and go out there and dominate."
Zac Taylor talked a little bit about meeting you right before everything shut down with the coronavirus, and that you guys seemed to hit it off. Can you talk about that meeting?
"Yeah definitely. We got it in right before everything closed down. He's a great guy, man. Once I talked to him I was like, 'That is a guy I want to play for.' Ever since then, I knew it was a special connection with the Bengals, man – I knew it was. I'm just glad I'm a Bengal now."
In college, you played with two pretty good quarterbacks (Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence), and now you're going to be the teammate of Joe Burrow. How lucky do you feel to have those kinds of guys throwing you the football? (Laughs) "I'm very lucky, man. You guys have seen him play. Just seeing how he goes out there, and he's so accurate with the ball, I'm just really looking forward to playing with Joe. Last time we played football, we were playing against each other. I'm just really looking forward to going out there and competing with him."
Is it true that your mom and sister actually boo you if you play poorly in a game?
"No no no, they won't boo me. They'll yell at me and tell me to get my act right and start playing better. That boo thing is just a rumor. They call me 'Boot,' like B-O-O-T.
"My sister's always called me Boot since I was young. It's just my nickname for them."
Have you ever met A.J. Green?
You were a standout basketball player in high school. How close did you come to playing basketball in college?
"I thought about it. My junior year in high school is when I strictly made football my sport. I was really close. I started getting offers in basketball. I really wanted to work on my game in basketball, but it ended up junior year that I knew football was my sport."
You played against Joe Burrow in the title game. What did you see from the other side of the field watching him?
"He's a guy that plays with grit. He's a guy that's going to compete. We were up on them at the beginning, and you could tell he was locked in and he brought his team back. He's a guy that's going to compete and play hard no matter what."
Did you guys throw together out in California during pre-draft workouts?
"No, I never got to catch a pass from him."
How confident are you with Joe Burrow and the other talent this team has already?
"Yeah, I'm very confident. I feel like we can really turn the organization around, and come out with a winning season this next season. I'm really looking forward to it."
Were you vocal about your Bengals fandom, and did your Clemson teammates know you were a Bengals guy? What was that like? I can't imagine you were around a bunch of them…
"(Laughs) Yeah, I was the only one. They knew I was a Bengals fan. They always gave me a hard time every time we lost a game, but I would stay locked in. I was always a fan and never switched up on them. It is what it is."
Besides A.J. is there anybody else you like to watch?
"I really just watch A.J., but Joe (Mixon) is a great back. He's been tearing it up in the league. I'm really looking forward to playing with him too."
What does your chain stand for?
"G.V. stands for Gamble Valley. I got it because not too many people where I'm from make it out. Me being one of the first ones is a big moment."
What does it mean for you?
"It's something I wear a lot. I've been wanting this piece for a long time. Being able to get it means a lot. I'm glad I can call it home."
Is Tee short for something?
"It's short for Tamaurice."
You said Zac Taylor just called you. What did he say?
"He was just seeing if I was ready and congratulating me."
Last year when Oak Ridge, your high school, declared it Tee Higgins Day, the celebration was a double cheeseburger plain with fries. Is that how you plan on celebrating tonight?
"I'm definitely doing that. I can't wait for that. We have some Buffalo Wild Wings in there now, but once I leave here, I'm definitely getting that burger."
Chad Johnson was a big fan of McDonald's. Did you know that?
"I definitely have."
Chad was upset you weren't drafted in the first round. He called you a "game changer." Do you know him at all?
"I didn't see that. I don't know him, but I'm looking forward to meeting him and learning a few things from him."
You seem like a very nice guy, but Coach Taylor talked about your toughness on the field. Where does that come from?
"Once I get on the field in between those lines, I turn into a dog. That's how I was raised. When you get in between those lines, go out there and dominate the guy in front of you."
You did cross paths with Joe Burrow at all while working out in California?
"The only time I crossed paths with him was at the combine."
How much do you think competing for championships has helped prepare you for the NFL? "I feel like it helps a lot. I've played against the best of the best — in two national championships, and in the college football playoff all three years. In the NFL, that's the best of the best. Playing at Clemson under Coach Sweeney prepared me for this moment.
What led you to being an A.J. Green fan?
"He's a big guy. Working against smaller defensive backs, being a bigger guy too, I'd see what he would do and try to do it the next day in practice. Watching him growing up, it's crazy to be able to call him a teammate now. It's surreal."
What's one thing you want to improve on?
"Separation at the line. Going out there and dominating the line of scrimmage."
Have you imagined what it would be like to meet A.J.?
"I have to be cool. I can't be like, 'Oh, what's up!' He's my teammate now, I have to be cool."
Are there any big games that A.J. had that stick out in your memory?
"I feel like every game he played in was a big game for him."
What does it mean to be part of this historically good wide receiver group, and how competitive will you be with the guys taken before you?
"This class is really deep. I'm blessed to be a part of it. It could be one of the best to come through the draft. Competing with those guys is going to be fun. A lot of them are my good friends, and I'm really looking forward to it."
What's your favorite memory from your high school playing days?
"My favorite was my sophomore year playing against Cleveland. I caught a shallow route and took it for six."
Have you heard from Bengals WRs coach Bob Bicknell yet?
What was it like getting the news?
"It was a dream come true. Once I got the call, I was just looking at my phone like, 'Is this real?' I answered it and coach told me I'm a Cincinnati Bengal and ever since then, it still hasn't sunk in."
How concerned are you about learning the playbook, considering everything going on right now with the COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty with the offseason program? "I'm not concerned at all. I'm going to get up with Joe (Mixon), A.J. and all the vets soon. They can teach me, and I learn easily." Do you have any medical injuries or issues that were a problem in past? "No sir."