LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When Teddy Bridgewater met with reporters at the University of Louisville's football complex on Friday, it was his first time speaking to the media as a college graduate.
Bridgewater talked about his Heisman hopes, his disappointment in not being named American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year, his relationship with Shawn Watson and his feelings upon graduation.
He didn't talk about this future -- whether he'll declare for the NFL Draft -- but he was asked plenty of questions about it.
Instead of putting this together as a story, I'm just going to let Teddy's words tell the story here. The reporters' questions are paraphrased. The answers are Bridgewater's. From his freshman year to today, his ability to handle himself, and navigate a series of sometimes tricky media questions, is pretty remarkable. He can handle himself in the pocket, and with the press.
His news conference:
Q: What was it like walking through graduation ceremonies this week?
BRIDGEWATER: It's a huge accomplishment and I'm really proud. It was a great feeling, for one just being the first in my family to graduate. And it was a great feeling, because it was my first time walking. I graduated high school early, so I wasn't able to go back and walk.
Q: What's it like, now, playing Miami, a school where you committed originally?
BRIDGEWATER: That was a great feeling also. What a way to end the year, playing against your hometown school. We've worked hard all season and we're glad we're going to be playing a good opponent. We're looking forward to playing those guys.
Q: How many Miami players do you know or keep in touch with.
BRIDGEWATER: A ton of guys. You know, Denzel Perryman, Allen Hurns, Duke Johnson. Allen and I were just texting the other day, because he graduated yesterday, also. I still keep in touch with those guys.
Q: How frustrating are all the questions about your future, when you still have games left to play?
BRIDGEWATER: It's pretty frustrating right now because I still have one more game to play this season. My whole thing coming into this season was I wanted to just focus on this season. I knew I would have a decision to make once the season was over. I just wanted to focus on this season first and then think about what's down the road.
Q: Have you not thought about it?
BRIDGEWATER: No. Right now I'm still here at the University of Louisville, and that's my primary focus.
Q: Is that difficult, when you are playing now but have the future on your mind?
BRIDGEWATER: It's not difficult at all. When you have your priorities in order and you know what you want to accomplish, then it's not difficult at all.
Q: What's the timetable for making your decision?
BRIDGEWATER: I don't have one.
Q: What's going to be your process? Who will you lean on?
BRIDGEWATER: You know, I'll probably just talk to guys who I know who are already on the next level and guys who are still in school. My coaches, my family, everybody will play a role in this decision I have to make.
Q: What are you most proud of that you've accomplished at U of L?
BRIDGEWATER: Just become a better person, a better person than I was when I first arrived. I feel I've matured, learned to accept responsibility, hold myself accountable and my teammates accountable, and just, you know, become a man. Coach Strong always talks about you come in a boy, and leave a man. And I felt I was able to do that.
Q: What about the position of the program?
BRIDGEWATER: Oh yeah. The record speaks for itself in the past two years. Even if you bring in the past three years. We've been able to do some great things here.
Q: What is the key to beating Miami?
BRIDGEWATER: You know, we're just going to have to take what they give us. We have to be patient. Whether big plays are going to be there, we just have to take our time.
Q: A lot of people expected you to be in a BCS bowl. It seems like a crazy question to ask at 11-1, but is there disappointment?
BRIDGEWATER: Even though we didn't reach where we wanted to go, we're still proud of ourselves. I believe we're one of only five teams, maybe more than that, who have 11 wins and one loss. We're still proud of ourselves, because we know that at the end of the day, it's bigger than ourselves, you know? It's about the name we wear across our jerseys. The University of Louisville. We have a lot of pride to play for, and we still do. Even though we didn't get to go to the BCS game, the Russell Athletic Bowl is a great bowl, we're down in Florida, playing a quality opponent.
Q: How many times have you simulated this game on the video?
BRIDGEWATER: Actually I haven't, because I've been so busy with school and everything, trying to finish up. Now I'll probably have some time on my hands this week and I'll probably simulate it a couple of times.
Q: So basically you're behind in your preparation (laughing)?
BRIDGEWATER: Oh not at all. We still have our preparation at the facility, with our offensive meetings, and position meetings and practice. These reps count more than the video games.
Q: What was it like turning in that last paper?
BRIDGEWATER: It was a great feeling, a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that all your hard work has finally paid off. It's been a long process of school, and I'm just glad to be done with it. It was actually a test, in a justice administration class. I actually made a 92, which I'm pretty proud of.
Q: Who came up for your graduation?
BRIDGEWATER: My mom, my girlfriend, my two best friends.
Q: A lot of people were reading into your tweet about taking the next step towed the future. Is there anything to that?
BRIDGEWATER: It was just a tweet. Everyone can interpret it the way they want, but it was just a tweet.
Q: You've seen the video of your throw to Damian Copeland in the corner of the end zone (against Cincinnati). You knew he was there?
BRIDGEWATER: You know, it's just part of dude being a great player, having an understanding (of) and a great feel for the game. He saw I was just trying to stay alive in the pocket. He had a curl route and he broke that off because the defender was already breaking on that route. So he just turned upfield and I happened to see him as I was trying elude another guy, and I just launched it, and I knew he would get down there to make the catch because once the defender was rallying back to him, they were going separate ways.
Q: When you watch highlights of that fourth and 12 run or that TD throw, are you like, "How did I do that?"
BRIDGEWATER: Not at all. I just, I probably only watched it about two times. And it was a pretty good run, knowing I had to elude a defender and stiffarm and try to stay in bounds. But it's all part of being a playmaker, and I consider myself a playmaker in this offense. I just trusted my athletic ability and was able to get downfield for the first down.
Q: But were you thinking, on that run, of what was at stake and you had to get a first down?
BRIDGEWATER: Oh yes. I wasn't going to let anything stop me short of that first down. You play this game to give it your all. You always want to leave it all on the field and maximize on each play. And on that play I told myself, you know, only way I want to be short is going down with a strange or mysterious injury. I was not gong to let that guy stop me.
Q: How much of a storybook ending is it to play Miami in a bowl game? What was it like when that pairing came out?
BRIDGEWATER: My first reaction was, Wow. You get to play against your hometown school, and that'll be two years in a row that you play against school you grew up rooting for. I'm pretty pumped about it. It's something you dream of as a kid. You usually dream of making the big play for your hometown school. Now you dream of making the big play against your hometown school. It's just, all, a wow factor.
Q: Thinking about those two plays against Cincinnati, what's your favorite play of yours during the season?
BRIDGEWATER: That's something I haven't thought about yet. That's something I probably won't think about till after the bowl game. Because you never know what can happen in the bowl game. Can probably make another play there.
Q: You mentioned playing a team from Florida. If you do come back could you have the Trifecta, and play Florida State as well?
BRIDGEWATER: You're right about that.
Q: Have you thought about that?
BRIDGEWATER: You know, I try not to think too far ahead in the future. I've always taught myself to live in the moment, because you can't control the future. If you just take care of the moment, everything else will take care of itself.
Q: Were you disappointed that you didn't get to go to New York for the Heisman?
BRIDGEWATER: You know, looking back at it, it did bother me, because I did -- early in the season I said I wanted no part in the Heisman. The main reason I said that is not because I'm afraid to compete or whatever, but because you know, all my life I've learned to sacrifice personal glory for team success and team glory. Whether it was in high school playing ball and I had to stop to take care of my mom and family or now with the Heisman, sacrificing my personal glory for the team, I think everyone misunderstood my message. I was pretty disappointed, because I felt that once we lost one game, everyone just counted us out. But it's college football and everything happens. But I was more disappointed in the conference awards. I felt like I was pretty short-changed on that side.
Q: But when you see, the other day, Todd McShay has you No. 1 potentially in the NFL Draft board, whatever you do, that has to make you feel pretty good.
BRIDGEWATER: That was a great feeling. because you know that you've been sacrificing your whole life and grinding your whole life to have everyone talking about you, and you know, to hear that, it was like, wow, it's really happening. The predictions and everything. But I try not to look too far in those things because I'm still here at the University of Louisville and I'm trying to take care of everything here.
Q: On awards, it sounds like you feel like you still have something to prove in the bowl game.
BRIDGEWATER: Of course. My work is never done. Each day, I've learned to live life with a purpose and live it out loud. I still have a lot to prove. In this bowl game I'm just going to go out and continue to lead with conviction and I'm not going to change anything, just show everyone that they shouldn't have counted us out.
Q: What was it like walking through graduation with so many guys you've played with?
BRIDGEWATER: It was very special. That's what you want to see out of the program. You want to see guys come through the program and walk out of here with that degree, because that's something no one can take away. So to see so many teammates walk across that stage, it was a great feeling, because everyone played a role in their success, whether through football or school, whether it was coaches or trainers, teammates, equipment mangers, tutors in study hall, everyone played a role. We're all just thankful, and you can't say anything else about it.
Q: What's your relationship with Shawn Watson? There have been stories this week about grief he's taken from fans. What has he meant to your development?
BRIDGEWATER: He's meant a lot. He's taught me to have the mindset of a pro. A lot of guys play this game and have the college mindset, but he has so much experience and so much to offer, he's helped me to mature not only as a football payer but as a person. I've been able to have open conversations and discussions with him about life in general, and he's always given me a wise opinion. He's wise in general. I'm just thankful that we have him here at the University of Louisville. He cares about us more as a person than as an athlete. He knows someday our playing career will be over. He always tells me it's about the relationships you establish now, that you'll have for the rest of your life
Q: Aside form football, what will you remember most from here?
BRIDGEWATER: I'll just say last season, athletically, the year of the Cardinal. Us winning the Sugar Bowl. Men's basketball winning the title. Women's basketball going to the big game. Baseball team going to the College World series. I keep up with women's soccer and men's soccer, tennis, swimming. I try to keep up with every sports team. Last season, athletically, is one thing I'll remember the most. Not many schools have accomplished what we did last year.
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