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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asher Heads to Minnesota

Comments from Asher Allen from his conference call after being selected in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings...

Q: Were you pleased when the Vikings made that call to you?
A: Yeah, I was really excited. I think anytime you get drafted and go through a stage like this in your life, it’s one of the most heart-pounding things, but it’s also one of the most-enjoyable things. You dream of this day. I wish it could have came earlier, but I’m happy that it came.

Q: Did your hand injury make it a tough decision to come out this year or not?
A: Well, I played with (the injury). That’s the thing about it. Toughness has never been a problem. I broke it and when that happened I had the chance of either sitting out or playing with it. But I love football way too much not to play it. I played with it and then tore it. The last game of the year I played without my cast and it felt really good. And I know my body and also being able to work out and things like that; I had full confidence in my hand. It’s been 100 percent since the last game.

Q: Do you think the injury effected your draft status with some teams, that they were concerned? Do you think it may have hurt your stock a little bit?
A: I really don’t know. I think I had a good Combine showing. I had a great pro day, running a 4.33 (40-yard dash) at my pro day and obviously doing really good at my position drills over and over again and having good character and good grades and things like that. I thought those things were going to be able to take me up a little bit higher. But you don’t know what happens in those rooms and how they come up with those decisions. I’m kind of perplexed myself about going this low. But that’s just how it is. All we can do is just move forward from here and win games up here in Minneapolis.

Q: Do you see yourself fitting in here in the Vikings defense?
A: Obviously, I’m a big fan of Antoine Winfield. I’ve always been a big fan of him and everything that he does. A guy like him, who is kind of similar to the way I play, it’s just great to be on a team with him. Hopefully I have a chance to learn. That’s pretty much, as far as the secondary as of right now that I know. But I’m sure in the next couple weeks I’ll (become) well-informed.

Q: What do you think you have to work on most?
A: The playbook. The Minnesota Vikings playbook and making sure I understand this. At Georgia, we had a very, very complex defense as far as understanding plays and reacting to different plays. I love film. I love watching film. I’m a big student of the game and just really understanding film. The faster I understand the film, the faster I can get on the field. I truly believe that will be the only thing holding me back.

Q: What do you think is your biggest strength?
A: Confidence. I think, playing cornerback, you have to have confidence being out there on those numbers by yourself. Sometimes on the backside of three-ball ones that I’ve spent my last three years at Georgia doing and just playing in the SEC, you gain experience. I played against NFL receivers that are in the NFL right now and I played against college receivers that are going to be in the NFL. Percy Harvin, he’s there right now and he’s a guy I went against for three years. It’s kind of funny that you’re kind of rival teams and you go to the same NFL team. But just that kind of experience playing in the SEC and (Harvin) also, you just gain new tools that you’re able to play in the NFL with.

Q: Did Percy make any plays on you?
A: Nah. Nah, we can go to the films. Every time he played Georgia, he made sure that he made his fair share of plays, as he did his whole year. He’s a great player and I’m happy to be a teammate with him and Phil Loadholt.

Q: You had a really good showing in the bench press at the Combine. Is physicality part of your game?
A: Oh yeah. Like Antoine Winfield, who is a strong corner. I put (225 lbs.) up 22 times. I have the bench press record as well as the power clean record at Georgia for cornerbacks. Physicality is big thing for me because I enjoy pressing. I enjoy getting into a receiver’s mouth, so to say, I think that kind of game. Knowing that you have speed and knowing that you have quickness, it just adds another weapon to you. I like playing in the run game a lot. That’s what we did at Georgia. We allowed our cornerbacks to make a lot of decisions and hopefully I can be able to do that at Minnesota.

Q: What did you think of that contract that your former teammate (Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford) got?
A: Oh wow. I hope he can throw a little bit down here to us. He deserves it. He’s been a hard worker. We came to Georgia at the same time and left Georgia at the same time. He’s been a hard worker since he’s been there, as well as Knowshon (Moreno) and Mohammed Massaquoi and Corey Irvin. Those guys, ever since they’ve been there, they’ve been extremely hard workers. Just knowing that those guys are getting their recognition, as well as myself, it’s just been a great weekend, really.

Q: In which game did you break your hand and how did it happen?
A: In the LSU game last year, I broke my hand on the second drive of the whole game. He ran a flip-toss and as a cornerback I read it. I came up and making the tackle, my hand hit his helmet, actually. I was coming at a high speed and he was coming at a high speed. I didn’t know what happened at first. I thought I sprained it and so I just wrapped it up and we just taped it and I ran back out there and played football. From I believe the LSU game all the way up to the Michigan State game, which is pretty much the second half of the football season I was playing with a cast on my hand. Having that kind of thing, probably took away from my interceptions and things like that. I think what I brought my junior year to Georgia was just shutting a side down. That’s kind of the attitude I have. I feel like I can do that. Hopefully I can do that in Minneapolis.

Q: Did playing against a quarterback like Stafford in practice, did that elevate your game, playing against someone who is better than you would face on game day?
A: Picture this for a second, this was my practice; it was Stafford throwing to Mohammed Massoqoui, who is with the Browns now and Knowshon Moreno. That was practice. That was for three years. I feel like going against those guys and how competitive we all are, there were plenty of fights out there between the guys. Just how competitive we are; by the time you got there you were ready for the game. You were looking around like, “Man, this is not the same. This is pretty easy.” I think that’s just one of the reasons why I went to Georgia. I wanted to go somewhere that was very highly-competitive, where I knew a lot of talent was going to be, because I get to prove myself. That’s the kind of person I am. Obviously, I like to do what’s best for the team, but I also I love competition. I love to prove myself.

Q: Did you come close to coming back to school?
A: After the last game I was thinking about it. This decision came up and me and my family talked about it. We just wanted to know what was the best decision for us and for myself. We talked with Coach Richt and Coach Martinez. Coach Martinez, who was my position coach, talked and after talking they obviously wanted me to stay. I’m related to Michael Irvin. Michael Irvin is a cousin of mine and he helped me out a whole lot throughout this, and Darrell Green also did. I formed a relationship with him through this whole process. We talked a whole lot. As a whole group, collectively, we made a decision to come out. We thought it would be best. Going back, I love the University of Georgia. I love everything about it, what it stands for, what the G stands for, the fans there. It was extremely hard to leave but sometimes you got to do what you’ve got to do. But that was the backbone of that decision.

Q: How did you form the relationship with Darrell Green?
A: Darrell Green actually came down for the Capital One Bowl game. He came down there and was actually outside talking to a few guys and I followed him, obviously, as a big football fan. I went up there and said, “Hey” to him and things like that and just kept in touch. He never hesitated to contact me to see how I was doing and likewise I did the same. We’re both cornerbacks and he still thinks he can probably beat me in the 40. We haven’t raced yet. I think the comparisons of both of us probably attracted us to each other. I’ll probably reach him today. He’s a great guy I met at the Capital One Bowl and kept in contact with.

Q: With the defense that Vikings run, do you feel that fits you as a player?
A: Perfectly. That kind of offense we ran at Georgia, we kind of held kind of our base thing. The kind of player I am kind of fits also. I can press, press zone. There are a lot of weapons I believe I bring to the game. That’s just one of the things I do bring. I think that defense, when run correctly, is very, very tough to beat. Hopefully I can just be a part of that wherever (I’m at).

Q: If you played in the nickel would you be more comfortable playing inside or outside?
A: I believe I can play anywhere. Playing the nickel back is something I did when I first got to Georgia. Whenever we had problems toward the field or with a certain receiver I would go to nickel. I’m very familiar with playing nickel. I’m very familiar with playing the hook zone, playing the run through, as far as playing cover two; also playing the curl flat when it comes to cover three, the quarter flat when it comes to cover four. Things like that. We do that at Georgia. Those are things that Coach Martinez really instilled in us and made sure we understood. As a player myself I’m going to make sure I understand it whether it be nickel back or one of the two corners. I’m going to make sure I fully understand it. As far as playing nickel back, it doesn’t matter where. I’ll make sure I’ll understand and I’ll make sure I come in there kind of with a prior knowledge of this defense. I think that I’ll be a quick learner, hopefully.

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