And with the 87th-overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Rice CB Phillip Gaines. Not long after being selected by the team, Gaines was on the phone, addressing questions from local reporters.
Q: Phillip, what are your emotions?
GAINES: "I'm speechless, honestly. I really don't know what to say. I can't even tell you. This is beyond a blessing and I really don't know what to say. I'm speechless."
Q: What were you hearing was your projection?
GAINES: "Honestly, I really didn't care if I was a free-agent guy, as long as I got picked up and got the opportunity to play. Nothing really bothers me. Going to Rice, going to a small school, I never really just had any hint. I thought about going to the NFL. I just wanted to get that degree and play football, and now I'm here. Now, I'm just rolling with it and here I am today."
Q: How much experience do you have doing press‐man coverage?
GAINES: "I know when our DC came in, Chris Thurmond came in, we pretty much eliminated all zone or off‐man, and we pretty much played press-man; I'd say 80 percent of the time, we were in press‐man, because they trusted me and the other corner, Bryce Callahan, with the abilities. We pretty much played press‐man all the time. I'm really confident in it. I've watched the Chiefs for plenty of years. My family is from Philadelphia, so they've said they're huge Andy Reid fans. I've seen that whole scheme and everything. I'm just ready to go."
Q: Had any of the teams that interviewed you talked to you about switching to safety?
GAINES: "Honestly, some teams have, but it doesn't matter to me. I don't care if I'm strictly gunner on punt team. It's doesn't matter to me. Wherever they put me, I'll do it. It doesn't matter to me. What they tell me to do, I'll do. It's no difference to me."
Q: Did the Chiefs talk to you about playing safety?
GAINES: "Honestly, the Chiefs kind of kept it quiet. I talked to them a little bit. I got a call a couple weeks ago or maybe last week; they let me know they really liked the way I played and that was really it. They kept it quiet, so I'm just going up there and like I said, whatever they tell me to do, I'm going to do. It's all good."
Q: Did any teams talk to you about your off‐the‐field issues at Rice?
GAINES: "It happened in the past. I've grown up. I've learned from it, and I've moved on. Unfortunately, I was a part of it. I dragged my family and I dragged my teammates into it, but I've grown from it. You live and you learn. Fortunately enough, I've learned and I have the opportunity that I've been drafted by the Chiefs. They don't have anything to worry about. I'm just ready to go."
Q: What were those off‐the‐field issues?
GAINES: "I was charged with marijuana. I tripped up on some marijuana issues. That happened back then, but now, I'm moving forward. That was in the past and now I'm just ready to go forward with it."
Q: Was there anything else like theft or anything like that?
GAINES: "No, sir. No, sir."
Q: Is that why you missed that game last year?
GAINES: "Yes. I had my second failed marijuana test on January 1 of 2013 and that caused me to miss the first game, the (Texas) A&M game."
Q: You had two marijuana offenses you said?
GAINES: "Yes, sir."
Q: What kind of steps have you taken to ease teams' concerns about that?
GAINES: "Honestly, I've just told them the truth. I'll never shy away from it, because I did it. There is nothing to hide from. I did it. I'll own up to it every day for the rest of my life, and with that said, sometimes you make those mistakes and you man up and you move on with it. The Chiefs have believed in me and understood that I did that. Like I said, they have nothing to worry about. I'm moving forward with my life, and that's in the past. I'm just ready to move forward and put that in the past."
Q: How do you go through a daily routine of becoming a better player?
GAINES: "Trust me, whatever the coaches tell me, I'll do that and more. If they may tell me to do this and be here and there in practice, I'll do that and then, I'll go home and look at film. I will think about it the whole day. I love football with all my heart. I love football. Whatever they tell me to do, I'll go above and beyond that. It doesn't matter to me, because I'm pretty much a perfectionist. Like I said, whatever they tell me to do, I'm going to work on my craft as hard as I can and with the coaches up there and the defense they run, I can't wait to get up there and listen to what they tell me to do, soak it up like a sponge and move forward."
Q: The Chiefs drafted a LB yesterday and now they addressed the secondary. Are you excited to play against Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers?
GAINES: "Absolutely. As a competitor, you always want to play against the best, because that's how you test yourself. You can't test yourself going against just regular players. Peyton Manning, being one of the best quarterbacks of all time, I can't wait to go against people like him and just watching him play, throughout his whole career, understanding how he approaches the game, it's going to be an honor to play against him. To go against the best, I can't wait. That really tests your skill, and I can't wait to do that."
Q: How much interaction did you have with the Chiefs during this process?
GAINES: "I talked to them a little bit. I talked to them at the Combine. You talk to them. You have the little informal interviews. Like I said, they called me last week and told me they liked my style of play. It was pretty quiet, honestly. Now that I'm picked up, I'm fully devoted to what they're about. Trust me, they have no idea how hard I'm going to work for them. They'll see, once I get there, how hard I'm going to work for them. I'm fully onboard, trust me."
Q: Who were the best quarterbacks and wide receivers you went against in your college career?
GAINES: "Throughout my career, I've gone against a lot of people. I've gone against Robert Griffin III. I've gone against UCLA. I've gone against an onslaught of people, and honestly, I really respect the receivers at Rice because, especially me, I'm a small-school guy. A lot of small school guys don't get all the hype that the bigger school guys get. I've gone against a 4.3 [40‐yard dash] guy. I've gone against a 6‐5 [height] guy, and I've gone against a great possession guy. I love going against my teammates every day in one‐on-ones; that's what gets me ready for the games. Once I'm out there, there's really nothing I haven't gone against, especially in my conference and everything. It's just an honor to be able to be in this position to go against, like you said, Peyton Manning, and all of those boys in the conference. I just don't even know what to say. I'm just speechless, right now."
Q: What was one of the most challenging games in 2013 that you had to bounce back from?
GAINES: "Honestly, in 2013 I didn't have too many balls thrown against me. In 2012, it was a little bit more challenging, just because I was a junior and they were throwing at me a little more. Louisiana Tech, they have Quinton Patton; he was the really good receiver. He caught a touchdown on me. As a competitor, you never want to give up touchdowns, but you have to know that it will happen and you have to move on. I never let it really affect me. I understand that they'll happen and you want to get better, but you have to understand it, move on, adjust and just keep on keeping on. There are a lot of good teams in Conference USA, spread offenses all the time and quarterbacks slinging it around, all the time, so you just have to bounce back and keep doing your thing. Don't press too much, because that's when you start making mistakes and just rely on your technique and keep moving on."
Q: Why did you go to Rice?
GAINES: "I'd say the main couple reasons are the education and the location. My family is from San Antonio, so it's only a couple hours from Houston, so they can see every game. And the opportunity to play early. I was fortunate enough to start my third game of my freshman year, so I did what I wanted to do. I got a great education and got to play early, got to hone my craft, throughout the whole process. Looking back, it was probably one of the best decisions of my life."
Q: Where are you with your degree? Have you graduated?
GAINES: "Economics. I need three more classes to earn my degree."