New Orleans Saints LB Khairi Fortt
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Saturday, May 10, 2014
How much contact did you have with the Saints? Did you interview with them? Did you think they were a team that could pick you?
"I did interview with them at the Combine for 15 minutes. They brought me in, had me sit down and went over like 10 to 15 plays that they do on defense and they had me write them up on a sheet of paper. That was pretty mind-boggling because they were asking me pretty wild questions while I was doing it. I didn't have really any clue they were going to pick me after that because they didn't have that much contact with me. They were impressed with how well I analyzed the plays that they threw up and I quickly assessed them and wrote them down. That was about it."
You played in a 4-3 defense in college, how do you feel that you transition to the Saints multiple hybrid 3-4 defense?
"Well the 4-3 defense and the 3-4 are starting to, kind of, overlap with these over and under defenses. During half the season at Cal we started to play sort of a 3-4 where our Sam was on the line and our two Mike and Will linebackers were the inside players. I feel like I would be good at playing a 3-4 defense and I'll learn quickly and there is not much of a change."
It has been a long road for you after leaving Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky scandal and sitting out a year. How much did that enter your thought process that it is time to get to the NFL?
"I took it all in as a learning experience, life doesn't go as planned. I just took as adversity, just a lesson to me growing up as a man. I picked Penn State, obviously, and it didn't work out for me like I wanted it to so I had to pick a different option. I don't regret it, I thought it was a learning tool for me. It actually helped me a lot, going from a 4-3 defense and learning that in the Big Ten, hard-hitting, and going to the Pac-12, more of a finesse game. I thought that was good."
Did you get a lot of questions about your injury history? Do you think teams were past those issues?*
"I don't feel like I was really injury-prone, the only real injury I had was in ninth grade. I had to get to get surgery on my knee in the 2012 season and I didn't tear anything, I didn't tear a meniscus or ACL or anything, they just had to put another tendon in my kneecap to make sure it was stable. The doctor said I could have played with it but if I wanted to have a long career in the NFL that I would probably get the surgery so it wouldn't happen again, my knee wouldn't pop out again. As long as I stay stretched, do some yoga and drink some water, I'll be good."
Associated Press images of Saints 4th round draft pick Khairi Fortt.
There were reports that you tore that ligament in ninth grade, was that accurate?
"I didn't tear a ligament, I just partially dislocated my kneecap so it would always slip out just a little bit. It never happened during any football games through my high school and college career up to spring practice where it came out a little bit. I still walked off the field, I was fine. I was about to start practicing again but the doctors thought it was a little loose so they tightened it down with another Achilles tendon from a cadaver and now I'm fine."
At your interview with the Saints, was it Rob Ryan asking most of those questions?
"Yes it was Rob Ryan, he was standing right to the right of me."
Was it different than the other interviews you did, the way they conducted it?
"Yeah, most of the other interviews they asked me about my life, why I changed schools. When I sat in with New Orleans I thought it was going to be the same but it was more straight to the point, what can you do from this point on, the past is the past and we want to see what you can do."
So what were your impressions of Rob Ryan and the way he runs the defense?
"From a personal standpoint, I have a friend from Connecticut, John Jenkins that they drafted last year, and he said he (Ryan) is a great guy. My personal experience from the Combine, he was straight to the point, knows what he wants with this defense, (and is) really adamant about playing well and having a great defense. I am just excited to be a part of that and hopefully I can get on the field and help the team out as much as possible."
How close are you with John Jenkins?
"We are real close. My father got him to the junior college that he was at, and then from the junior college that is where he got picked up with Georgia. Then after Georgia he came to the Saints. He was a really good friend. I actually just talked to him after I got drafted and he told me all of the things that were good about the organization and I'm just excited to come down and start work."
How long have you known him?*
"I want to say since 10th grade."