Rams Tackle, Joe Barksdale Interview
In the 2011 NFL Draft, LSU offensive tackle, Joe Barksdale was selected in the third round, 92nd overall by the Oakland Raiders. Joe Barskdale attended Louisiana State University from 2007 through 2010. He was second team all SEC during his senior season. He entered the 2011 NFL Draft and afterwards, he was picked up by the Raiders. He earned plenty of playing experience in his first year, however in his second year, he ended up signing with the St. Louis Rams. Check out our exclusive interview.
Joe Barksdale: This is Joseph Barksdale, LSU graduate, and St. Louis Rams offensive tackle, and you’re listening to http://www.ProInterviews.org
Strauss: How do you connect with your fans?
Barksdale: I try to be good about responding to any messages on Facebook or Twitter. Of course there’s the blog, and a lot of people have sent emails over the last couple of years and I would like to think I do an okay job of responding to those as well.
Strauss: What made you start a website and show your opinion in a blog format? (www.josephbarksdale72.com)
Barksdale: First and foremost, I have an opinion and you know you don’t want to seem like just another name on ESPN. I have always been real big about just voicing myself as a person, not even as an athlete, so if there’s ever something I want to talk about that I can’t just, get out in 140 characters like on Twitter, that’s somewhere I could do that at.
Strauss: What was this offseason like for you?
Barksdale: I think it was a pretty good offseason. I was on a pretty good training schedule. I have done my college workout from LSU, which is what got me to the NFL, so I’m not going to abandon that. I also trained with Jackie Ray Slater, the Hall of Fame Right Tackle for the Rams who played about twenty years. I think it was the right move for me to take the next step as a football player.
There’s a lot of stuff, being a guy that switched from defense to offense, that I still do not know. A lot of offensive linemen have been playing that since they were kids. I am getting down some technique stuff that I never learned before, from my time with him. I think he’s going to be a great resource for me. If I’m having a problem with football, I now have a guy I can call up who’s done it before.
Strauss: How’d you actually get started playing football? What age were you? What position did you play?
Barksdale: I was 14 and I saw the movie, Remember the Titans, and I didn’t really know anything about football like positions or anything like that. All of my friends played it, and I figured as long as I was going to high school, I might as well try it out. So that’s how I got started playing football.
Strauss: What was high school football like for you?
Barksdale: It was good for me. For one, it kept me out of trouble you know. Football eats up a lot of your time, so just from that standpoint it always kept me busy, and it also afforded me opportunities to be able to visit colleges and see different things outside of Detroit, and even outside of Michigan.
Strauss: You played with Vernon Gholston in high school. What was his impact on your playing and early on in your life?
Barksdale: Just as far as everything… Vernon was a really good resource from the colleges I should visit, to different techniques and stuff, we used to use on the field, things you should look out for. Even on the academic side, but with the NCAA Clearing House you need to clear in order to be eligible to go to college and you know, ACT scores and things people don’t bring up to the last-minute, and that hurts a lot of guys, especially where I am from.
Strauss: You chose Louisiana State. What was the whole recruiting experience like?
Barksdale: It was a humbling experience man. Midway through high school, I had a lot of scholarships, but they were for academic scholarships for engineering programs across the country because that’s what I was doing before football. To be a guy that started playing football pretty much just for fun to being to a guy who college programs want you to come to their university and play on their team, it was… I don’t even know the word… it caught me off guard to say the least.
Strauss: Do you have a favorite memory during your time at LSU?
Barksdale: Nah, man. There’s way too many memories to go through to come up with a favorite one.
Strauss: Is there a specific game that meant a lot to you throughout your career that you look back on and take pride in?
Barksdale: I’d probably say every game that I played. The coaches did a good job of getting us ready for each game, and for whatever reason you’d always have a chip on your shoulder against an opponent. But if I had to pick one, I would probably say the game we played against Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Chick-Fil-A Bowl during my sophomore year. We had just come off a National Championship, but I didn’t play much in that game, I wasn’t a starter. Even though it wasn’t a National Championship, it was my first Bowl game as a starter and something that I’ll always remember.
Strauss: Did you have a favorite block in your career?
Barksdale: I wouldn’t say it was my favorite block, but the games I would love to get ready for were the Alabama games, because they have so many exotic blitzes and defenses that you had to be ready to play a team like that, mentally and physically.
Strauss: Was there something you learned during your time in Baton Rouge? What do you think was the most important thing you learned while you were at LSU that you have taken to the NFL?
Barksdale: I’d probably say my work ethic. A lot of the things that we did at LSU were physically and mentally taxing. We’d always say: Well, they are not doing anything like this at other colleges, but then the coaches would respond, other colleges are not winning. So, I’d probably say not comparing yourself to other people, and concentrate on working and making yourself better everyday.
Strauss: What was it like training after your senior year? That’s a really hectic three or four months for upcoming rookies… What was that experience like for you?
Barksdale: It was stressful. As much as I’d like to say it wasn’t, it was. You don’t know who’s going to draft you, you don’t know, and you start to realize that throughout your college career, you have a degree, but you’ve pretty much been preparing to go to the next level, and if that doesn’t happen for you, you pretty much have to start over as far as businessman working like getting internships, if football doesn’t work out for you. And, it was pretty stressful.
Strauss: Can you give me your opinion of the NFL Scouting Combine and what that whole experience was like for you?
Barksdale: You don’t sleep, pretty much. You really don’t really need to sleep because you’re so excited to be there. I guess the word would be different. You’re in constant motion for basically 72 hours, and you’re getting a lot of free stuff. There’s also pressure to perform when you start to do your drills and things like that. Even the interview process is different; you’re meeting with a bunch of different teams that are interested in you and you’re meeting all these coaches you have seen on TV. It was a very humbling experience.
Strauss: What was it like to come back and experience the Pro Day at LSU?
Barksdale: It was not as stressful as the NFL Combine because it was LSU, and you’ve been there before. At the same time, you know it’s your last time to perform for that team. It was pretty cool seeing coaches and old teammates again as well as just being on campus with your friends.
Strauss: What was your draft day experience like?
Barksdale: My draft day experience was probably the longest 24-48 hours of my life. You try not to watch the TV, but then you end up watching anyway (laughs). You are just waiting for your number to be called, and everyone is calling you so every time you get a phone call, you think it’s a team. But for me, I think it was a motivator for me. Just as a football player, and just as a worker in general, you don’t ever want to be just sitting at home waiting on a phone call. It reminded me how special the opportunity was to get to the NFL and how difficult it is to stay in the NFL.
Strauss: What was it like to be a part of that Raiders organization?
Barksdale: It was cool. My dad was really excited when he found out, it was the Raiders. The Los Angeles Raiders and the Los Angeles Rams were his favorite teams because, of course, they used to win. I was very excited. Being from Detroit, those were teams that you could see put hard work and persevered.
Strauss: How did getting cut from the Raiders organization impact you as a person? What was that experience like for you?
Barksdale: It was not a good one. But I had become friends with Steve Wisnewski, who was a former Raiders player, and a coach when I was there. He just told me if it doesn’t work out with the Raiders, there are 31 other teams in the league, and he was right. Him believing in me, and told me I wouldn’t clear waivers, and I did just that. He just told me to keep working no matter what team I go to, next. He told me not to give up. The Rams called after the 24-hour period and I couldn’t have been happier; it was like being drafted all over again.
Strauss: You had the chance to play in some games this past year. What’s it been like being in St. Louis?
Barksdale: It was like coming back home. Michigan is considered the Midwest, so I was familiar with the culture and climate and things like that. I was closer to home. It was cool. Even now, I feel like I’m in a really good situation with the team and the best is in front of me.
Strauss: With the Rams now, you have a teammate Michael Brockers who was an LSU guy as well. Did you guys play together?
Barksdale: Yeah, we played together. I want to say he came in during my junior year. Either sophomore or junior year. He was one or two years younger than me.
Strauss : What’s it like playing with Michael?
Barksdale: Just like it was in college. It is nice having an existing relationship with the guy. Guys have a lot of inside jokes about where you went to college. When game day comes, you like to see your former teammates doing well, as long as he’s on the same team as you are.
Strauss: You got your first start this season with the Rams. What was it like to know that you were a starter and had that responsibility?
Barksdale: The same way, it was in college. Walking on the field, the first thing you think is “I don’t want to mess up.” It was an interesting experience, especially with my situation. At the end of the day, it lets you know for one, you can play in the NFL and two, you have a chance to be pretty good. It was just another motivating factor for me to keep working and keep getting better.
Strauss: A lot of players are involved with foundations and charities. Are you involved with anything off the field?
Barksdale: Yeah, I recently started a community service foundation called Uplift72. I chose the “72” because that was my rookie number and that was the first time, I had the means to set up a foundation.
We’re pretty much focusing on high school youth, trying to turn them in to well-rounded individuals by focusing on academics, athletics, and community service. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and I am glad I was able to start it.
Strauss: Do you have a favorite memory from your foundation?
Barksdale: I’d probably say the first event we did. Our first event was adopting a family in December from East St. Louis. It feels really good to give back. It was a woman. She had three kids. We took them to Toys R’ Us and also got some bare necessities from Walmart. Being able to make someone else’s life better was very rewarding to me.
Strauss: If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?
Barksdale: (Laughs) To be honest with you man, I don’t even eat ice cream. I’d probably say something dealing with blueberry because blue is my favorite color.
Strauss: It took a lot for you to do everything in your career from leaving home to go to LSU and you’ve learned a lot already in the NFL about the business side of football. What’s the best advice you can give someone to make it in the NFL?
Barksdale: I’d probably say the two things are: whatever happens, don’t take it personal. Football is a business. And work hard. Football was developed in a country that was founded on hard work paying off and the American Dream.
Strauss: I want to thank you for your time!
Barksdale: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Here are the personal questions that Joe Barksdale answered as well.
Strauss: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Barksdale: To be honest, I didn’t have one. I didn’t really watch football until I got to college. My favorite athlete growing up was either Shaq or Muhammad Ali.
Strauss: Have you ever met Shaq? I know you went to the same school (LSU).
Barksdale: I cannot say that I have. And he was my frat brother; we really should meet one day, but our paths have not crossed just yet.
Strauss: I bet you could take him at his post-game. You played basketball, didn’t you?
Barksdale: I played basketball, but I don’t think I could handle Shaq. With all the professional centers they paid to stop him, I don’t think I would stand a chance.
Strauss: You said you didn’t watch much football growing up. Did you watch other sports? Maybe a favorite TV show?
Barksdale: Basketball and Fresh Prince.
Strauss: Great show. Who’s your team in basketball?
Barksdale: Probably the Lakers. I was a really big fan of Kobe and Shaq.
Strauss: Did you become a Heat fan when Shaq moved to Miami?
Barksdale: No. I was still a Shaq fan, but not a Heat fan. I also liked Magic Johnson a lot too, he’s from Michigan.
Strauss: What would your last meal on Earth be?
Barksdale: It would be a steak and anything from Ruth’s Chris. Anything from Louisiana, period. Louisiana food is the reason I don’t own property in Louisiana because I would not be able to control myself.
Strauss: Do you like food a lot?
Barksdale: Yes, I’d like to get into Corporate America after football, and open up a few businesses. I’m actually going back to Louisiana State to get my MBA starting next offseason, but I won’t be able to do any of this, until football is over. But I’m trying to prepare now for the future.
Even if you make all the money in the world playing football, you can’t just sit at home all day. I’ve done it before, and it’s just nerve-wracking. You feel like you’re getting dumber, slower, and bigger.
Thanks again to Joe Barksdale for completing the interview with me.