2009 Breakthrough Candidates: Carmen Messina
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/14/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Aug. 14, 2009

By Christa Martinez - Graduate Assistant

When deciding where to go play college football, it seemed to be a no brainer for Carmen Messina. He wanted to be the next Brian Urlacher and the place to do that was the University of New Mexico.

Messina, a 6-2, 222 pound linebacker, came to New Mexico from Illinois and as a redshirt freshman last year became the most productive linebacker off the bench.

This year should be no different as Messina is on track to be the starting middle linebacker. I caught up with him after practice this morning to catch up on life and football.

How is your first week in pads going?
"It's great. It feels great to finally put the pads on and be able to hit people. It feels like it's been forever. Season is right around the corner."

The intensity level has been high, a few spats here and there.
"Yeah there are always going to be those things, especially when you put the pads on."

Are you adjusting well to the new coaches and the new defensive scheme?
"We have very good coaches and they have been able to teach us very well. The scheme's has been coming together well pretty recently. We should be a hundred percent by game day."

What do you think is the biggest asset you bring to the team?
"I go a hundred percent all the time. I give it my all every time. Also being able to communicate with the other players. Good communication is big."

During this training camp what skill are you looking to perfect?
"My speed and endurance. Getting back in those drops, there is a lot of running. I've got to get back in shape, back in football shape, which is definitely different than running stadiums and lifting weights."

Speaking of running stadiums and lifting weights, what did you do in the off season to prepare for camp?
"The coaches have been working us hard. They have us run the stadium, run the track, just a lot of long distance running to prepare us for the season."

Now last season you played behind Zach Arnett and Herbert Felder, was that beneficial for you? How much did you learn from them?
"Yeah definitely. Zach and Herbert are great leaders. They taught me a lot. They taught me how to play the game, how to deal with big lineman. I'm just trying to be glue and take everything in from everybody."

Switching gears slightly, what do you like to do in your off time?
"As of right now, I just look at my playbook and eat as much as I can. Get some calories back in me."

You're originally from Illinois, what brought you to the Land of Enchantment?
"Well, one is the great Lobo legend Brian Urlacher. Being from Chicago, he is definitely a big icon of mine. [Former UNM defensive coordinator Osia] Lewis, who previously coached at Illinois came to coach at UNM, had been recruiting me since my sophomore year of high school. I really just wanted to be the next Urlacher. That is why I came here."

What is your favorite thing about Albuquerque?
"Being outdoors. It's a different environment here. It's great to see the mountains every morning when you get up. It's nice here."

Your birthday is coming up in the next few weeks, the big 21, do you have any plans?
"I will be looking over plays, that's about it. I'll make up for it later though."

What is one thing that people wouldn't know about you?
"I'm a caring guy. People probably wouldn't guess that."