Penn State's LB Brown and S Taylor Press Conference vs. Rutgers 11/26/19
Cam Brown | LB | Sr./Sr.
Q. Coach [James] Franklin was talking about guys coming over for Thanksgiving and I know that some guys maybe go to Coach [Brent] Pry's house or somebody else's. Can you share about what that day is like here during your time at Penn State?
CB: Coach Pry, Coach Franklin and all the coaches, they welcome everybody to come to their houses, no matter who you are, what position you play. You can go to Coach [Tim] Banks', Coach [Terry] Smith's. It doesn't matter. It's a very welcoming environment. The coaches have always emphasized that. They actually make it mandatory that we let them know where we're going to make sure we get a home-cooked meal and know that we're loved and make sure; that family atmosphere is part of what we preach all the time, bringing that family atmosphere, and this is just another example of that showing.
Q. Four years on campus, what have you seen from when you got here to now that has really stood out in terms of development within that building? What have you seen that have shown signs of growth?
CB: I think the biggest thing is with Coach Franklin. The last year and a half he's been very aware of his surroundings and he wants to improve every aspect. You guys know him, he wants to improve on the details and things like that, but it comes to players, he wanted to improve his relationships and make sure that everybody understood where he was coming from in certain things and explains everything a little bit more in detail just so guys aren't questioning things and certain things like that. Honestly, just the connections, too, throughout the building, the players and the locker room, everybody is becoming a little bit more close. Every day guys get closer and closer. I feel like that's the biggest thing for me, the relationships.
Q. You specified the last year, year and a half. Has there been a noticeably different approach than versus the first two years when you were on campus in terms of how Franklin has tried to address things?
CB: Yes, it would be a noticeable difference. He still preaches the same messages to us all the time. The messages haven't changed. It's just the way he goes about it have changed a little bit. I mean, it changes with the players you have. When you've got a bunch of older guys like in years past, it's a different approach that when you have a young team like this.
Q. We just learned and Franklin was briefly asked about it, but Justin Shorter has reportedly entered the transfer portal. Is that something that at this point in the season, can you feel that tension where maybe some guys on this roster are poking their head around and maybe wondering if their time at Penn State has come to an end?
CB: I don't think so, honestly. Personally, I don't think so at all. This program I feel like is as strong as it's ever been and right now, I feel like guys are making decisions for themselves. It is what it is.
Q. Rutgers has scored 105 points in the last 10 games. What is it about the offense that concerns you guys?
CB: The fact that they have athletes. They've got athletes just like every other team in the Big Ten and they have playmakers. I feel like for them it's just about putting it together and we're going to make sure they don't do that to us this week.
Q. What excites you about this game? What challenges do you see from your perspective?
CB: What excites me is it's my last opportunity in Beaver Stadium, with this defense, with this team. Honestly, it excites me the fact that we get to play another game. Every week it excites you. You get to Tuesday, you get to practicing again and you're starting a new game plan, it gets everybody going a little bit and it's a new source of motivation.
Q. Cam, what have you learned about Brandon Smith and Lance Dixon this year? Behind the scenes, what have they done to impress you or surprise you?
CB: Just their growth. Their growth in the film room, their growth in asking questions and wanting to be taught. I feel like that's a hard thing when you're a freshman. You come from being the big fish to now the little fish and you're trying to pretty much learn everything, and I think that was the hump that they got over. They're asking questions more now and you guys see they're freakishly athletic, so I feel like the next part for them is the cerebral part.
Q. When you see younger guys that don't quite always figure it out for whatever reason, what are the things that make developing hard at this level? What makes it hard to improve sometimes?
CB: I like that question. Honestly, I feel like it comes from everybody's background. It's from where you started. Some people get here being freakishly athletic, some people get here by making plays off their brain. I feel like it's different for each person, honestly. It's not something you can put a finger on and say the development in college is hard because of this. No, some people are struggling mentally because they're away from home, some people struggle physically, some people struggle with the demand itself, and some people have to question themselves if they really, truly love football. That's what college teaches you and makes you divide the difference. If you love football or if you just love being a football player.
Q. Do you have a Thanksgiving memory growing up that sticks out? Then in your time here at Penn State, do you have a memory you might cherish with some of your other teammates or just your teammates that sticks out to you?
CB: Yeah, I was just telling somebody a story about my mom. Since she's a doctor, she used to bring the flu shots home with her and I remember a Thanksgiving I was going through the fridge just looking for whatever pre-cooked stuff I could get out of there, and next thing you know I had a needle in my arm, and I was like, oh, geez. She was like, yep, gotcha. I don't know if that's the medical way to do it or if it's proper medically, but she got it done, and I'll never forget that day, honestly. But now, I think the biggest memory I have was the first time I went to Coach Pry's house. He had the Louisiana gumbo and a fried turkey that I've never had before. I'm used to having smoked turkeys and all different types of turkey, but fried, I was so confused when he pulled out this big burnt turkey. I was just like, “oh, gosh”, and he's like, no, you've got to cut through it, it's good. It gives it flavor. Ever since then I love turkey and gumbo.
Q. Has it hit you yet that it'll be the last bus ride? How emotional do you think it's going to be in the tunnel, all those things?
CB: Honestly, I think it didn't hit me. I think it's hitting me currently, honestly. I've been thinking about it, the process, just everything going through it. It's going to be an emotional weekend for me, mentally at least, but the game of football is about containing those emotions and playing the game. That's my biggest thing this weekend is focusing and being able to channel myself to play in this game.
Q. You've been around these other seniors a lot. Do you think one person is going to be especially emotional?
CB: I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if I see some emotion out of Jan Johnson this weekend. Jan is a very even-keeled guy, doesn't really show any emotion. I feel like, if anything this weekend, we might see a little bit from him.
Q. College football has become kind of transient in nature with people either transferring or leaving for the NFL. How odd is it that a lot of these people that you came in with, those couple of classes are maybe somewhere else now and not part of what you guys are going to experience this weekend?
CB: I mean, it hurts a little bit just to see the guys you came in with go somewhere else, but at the same time, you know those guys are doing what's best for them or trying to, at least, and I feel like it's a part of the game. I think players are doing what we've been doing, honestly, but I feel like the transfer portal definitely does make it a little bit easier.
Q. Five or ten years from now or maybe longer, when fans and players look back on your career, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for?
CB: Honestly, I want to be; I always think about this. I want to be remembered as a guy that played hard all the time, fought through what he could fight through, and tried to be out there for his team. I try to push, tried to lead this year, and granted, it didn't come out the way I wanted it to, but I feel like that part is going to at least stay in the locker room. The guys will know that I always fought for them, even with the coaches. I fought for the coaches in the locker room, I fought for the players with the coaches, and I feel like if that's what I can leave here with, I'm good.
Garrett Taylor | S | Gr./Sr.
Q. What's the hardest thing about developing in college?
GT: I think the hardest thing about developing in college is it takes a lot of patience. I think a lot of young guys come in and they expect it to be like a night-and-day thing where you see the results immediately. But you know, it's a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time. I think a lot of guys can get lost in that process, and some guys can give up easily, so I think having the patience to kind of see it through and stick to your process, stick to your plan, you know. I think that's the hardest thing about it because you're not going to see the results right away. For me, it's been going on five years now, so it's hard and it takes patience. I think if you have the discipline and the dedication to see that through, it's worth it.
Q. Garrett, five or ten years from now or longer when fans and players look back on your career, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for?
GT: I think first and foremost, I just want to be remembered as a great teammate, as a guy who people on the team felt like they could come to for whatever, whether it's personal issues, football issues. I want to be a guy that people found approachable and helpful in their times of need. I think that's first and foremost the most important thing to me, especially being a captain this year. Then on the field, a guy who gave it my all. I put a lot into this, a lot into this school, into this football program, so I want people to think I was a guy who went out there every Saturday and gave it my best shot. Hopefully people think I was consistent and had a pretty decent career here. I'd say that.
Q. Through the first three years of your college career, you look at the stats sheet, there's not a lot there. The last couple years you obviously had your big moments. What have you learned about yourself and staying put and fighting to get to that starting spot?
GT: Yeah, it's been a heck of a journey. I think it's just a testament to my belief in myself. Obviously, I've had a little bit of adversity, going through my injury in high school, coming here, having to redshirt, having to switch positions. It wasn't a clear-cut route. But through the support of my parents, which was huge, the support of my coaches, and just mainly the belief in myself, I was able to have the patience and have faith that my opportunity was going to come. Thankfully, I got that opportunity, earned the starting job and never looked back. I think a lot of guys when their opportunity comes, it's either you take it or you miss it. I think I did a really good job of capitalizing on that.
Q. Going from your personal development to the program development you've seen. What do you think has been the key to that progression? Getting Penn State to the point now where they are expected to be competing for a playoff spot on an annual basis?
GT: That's right where we want to be. We talk about being an elite program day-in and day-out, 365 days of the year and what that takes. I think what's gotten us there is the buy-in. I came in when there was a point in the program there was still some turmoil and Coach Franklin was trying to get guys to buy in. We had some guys who were. We had some guys who weren't. And that's no fault to them. That's just kind of where the program was at that point. But I think through great leadership over the years and guys who have come through this program and helped elevate us and the leadership we have now and the young guys, I think everyone is bought in. I don't think anyone is questioning anything anymore. I think we all believe and trust in the process, and I think over the years it's shown to be successful, so there's really no reason not to believe in that. I think it's gotten us to where we are right now.
Q. Looking ahead beyond your departure from campus, what's your foresight for Penn State football the next three to five years moving ahead? Specifically, for the safety position, who's going to be still on campus in 2020? What do you anticipate from their development?
GT: Just speaking on program first, I think we're going to be competing for National Championships. I think we're going to be in the playoff, all that good stuff. Obviously, I can't see into the future, but I've seen where this program has been and I see where we are now. I see the kind of talent we have in our locker room and the kind of recruits we're getting, and if the leadership can keep everyone together and everyone can stay bought in, then I don't see anything really changing from the trajectory that we've been on these last couple years. Then in terms of the safety room, it's been a heck of an experience being able to be coached up by Coach Banks. I think that culture that we have in the safety room, everyone is held to a really high standard in terms of how you approach the game and how you play the game and what's expected of you when you're out there. We obviously have a lot of talent in the room, guys like Lamont [Wade], who's had a heck of a season, guys like [Jaquan] Brisker coming in making an immediate impact, and then [Jonathan] Sutherland, he's a guy who's been waiting his turn. He's really diligent in how he prepares in terms of film study and all that. Then we've got young guys like Tyler Rudolph, who I think is going to be really talented when his time comes. So I'm really excited to see what the safety room is going to do the next couple years and I think it's going to be special.
Q. We just spoke with Cam, and after the game Saturday he says he pours his heart into his team in more ways than people would know. What has Cam provided from a leadership perspective? What are one or two ways that Cam pours his heart into the team that we don't see?
GT: Cam has been a great leader for this defense. I think he's stepped up and kind of taken that vocal leadership role. I know at the beginning of the season before everything started, he kind of stood up in front of the defense and gave us a little bit of like a motivational speech in terms of the way things have gone in the past and how the defense might have come up short in a few ways here and there and how he didn't want to let that happen. You know, I think guys saw that and took that and ran with it. We've had the mantra all year that it's been on us as a defense to try to go out there and make plays and win games.
Cam pours his heart into everything he does in terms of the way he prepares, how he practices. I know you guys get to see a little bit of our Wednesday practices at the end, but that guy practices harder than almost anyone on the team. A lot of guys respect that and it translates into Saturdays. He's giving his all to this program and we can do nothing but respect that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Tyler Rudolph. What's impressed you about him as a freshman? What's stood out this year?
GT: I think his growth. I think he early enrolled and he showed some flashes during spring ball, but there was a couple things here or there where, kind of talking to Coach Banks, and just myself as being the guy who's been a safety for a little bit, that he needed to improve on. But I think throughout the offseason and throughout this season, just in terms of seeing him practice and scrimmage, he's taken a lot of those next steps. I know we wanted him to be a little bit more physical so Coach Franklin was constantly putting him in the ‘lion's den’ and stuff like that and getting on him when they were scrimmaging and he might not have had as physical a tackle as probably would have been expected in a certain situation. Towards the end of the season, he's been going in and analyzing and striking the ball carrier, which has been really good to see. He's been wrapping up tackles and being a lot more physical, so that's just an area of growth that he's taken in the short amount of time that he's been here that's been really encouraging to see.
Q. Looking ahead to the weekend, what are some things that excite you the most? What are some of the challenges you see with the matchup?
GT: I think it's just really exciting to have another opportunity to go out there and play. You only get 12 a year and this is coming down to the last one, so I think guys are excited to go out there and have another opportunity to go 1-0. I would say guys are excited about that. Rutgers is a good team. Their record might not say so, but they have talent at their skill positions. Their running back, No. 1 [Isaih Pacheco], he's a really good back, and they try to get him the ball in a lot of different ways in terms of getting him a lot of touches, a lot of swing passes, and he's really explosive and good in space. Their line is pretty good, too. So I mean, we're going to have to prepare like we prepare for every game. I don't think anyone is going to take this game lightly, so it's another opportunity to go out and play against another Big Ten opponent and prove ourselves.
Q. If I could circle back to another teammate that you mentioned, Lamont Wade, he's told us this season that 2018 was kind of a crossroads thing for his career. It feels like he found his confidence this year. Is it something that's noticeable to you spending that much time with Lamont, the 2018 version of him versus the 2019 version of him?
GT: Yeah, it's obviously a night-and-day difference and it's something I can kind of relate to him with. Obviously, he wanted a bigger role on the defense. Everyone does. Everyone wants to be out there. Everyone wants to start. But you only have 11 spots on the field at any given time. So you know, Lamont last year might not have been in the situation he wanted to, but I give him props. He stayed here and stuck it out and he worked his butt off during this off-season. He got his opportunity, he capitalized on it and he earned the starting role and then throughout this year, the more snaps he got the more confident he played. He's out there relaxed, having fun and having an impact on the game. It was really good to see for me, just having kind of the same path, in a way, of just trying to earn your spot, earn your way on this team. So to see Lamont go through that has been really encouraging.
Q. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving story or memory growing up that you'd like to share?
GT: Just growing up, we always used to go to my aunt's house in Baltimore. I don't have any specific story from then, but I think just that kind of tradition of; my parents like to get on the road early so we'd be in the van probably at like 5:30, 6:00 in the morning when it was still dark out, but taking that little three-hour road trip up to Baltimore. Being able to see my family, spend a fun day with them has been something that I loved growing up. Something I kind of miss. Obviously we're up here for Thanksgiving. But that's just something for Thanksgiving that I enjoyed a lot growing up.
Q. Have you given thought to how emotional it's going to be in that tunnel? Are there specific seniors who you think may be more emotional than others?
GT: I can't really speak for anyone else, but I don't know. I think I'm going to; I think I'm the kind of guy who likes to think I'll be okay, but I have really no clue when it's going to happen, especially with my parents being down there on the field. I think that's going to be pretty special. So, I'll see. It's kind of weird thinking about it, but I'm excited just to have one last chance to get out there in Beaver and play in front of 100,000-some people. It's been a heck of a journey and I'm super appreciative of it, but yeah, I'll see. I have no clue.