Once considered a lock to end up in Ann Arbor wearing Maize and Blue and even receiving offers from heavy hitters like Oklahoma and Tennessee, in the end defensive tackle Pearlie Graves decided on Texas Tech.
One year removed from what may be the biggest decision of his life, Pearlie is looking to place his mark down in Lubbock, though he thought at the time that it would be under a different coaching staff.
In a recent interview with B/R, Pearlie covers everything from his new defensive coordinator James Willis, to how he feels the "new look" Texas Tech defense will fare against the Big 12.
Bleacher Report: What's the biggest challenge you had to overcome for the college game?
Pearlie Graves: Playing time. Not being able to come out and start a game. I didn't get any playing time last season, but I look forward to getting a lot of playing time this year.
B/R: Coming from Oklahoma, did you feel you were as ready as in-state players?
Pearlie: I don't think anyone was ready for college life when we got here. But besides the distance to home, there is no difference for getting ready.
B/R: After being recruited by Leach's staff, were you nervous how things would play out for you under the new regime?
Pearlie: Yes I really was. I didn't know how I would fit in his style of play.
B/R: Did you like Ruffin McNeil's style of defense?
Pearlie: Yes I did like Ruff's D. Ruff was a real good person and he was like another friend to me rather than just a coach. I could go talk to him about anything.
B/R: Were you surprised when they named Tommy Tubberville the new head coach?
Pearlie: Yes I really was, I didn't think that Texas Tech would go for a new man for the job. I thought they would keep Ruff, but hey, that happens sometimes.
B/R: Did you know much about him, like his background or his nickname?
Pearlie: No, I never knew anything about him except what people told me. He is a good man that will get you to the next level if you put in the work. I don't know his nickname, but I can tell I soon will.
B/R: "The Riverboat Gambler." Do you like new defensive coordinator James Willis's style?
Pearlie: It's a really good style of D. I never ran it before but I guess it's an NFL style of D so it's probably good that we're running it.
B/R: How do you feel about his half 3-4, half 4-3, defense?
Pearlie: It's going to be hard to stop us on the defensive side of the ball. The way he runs it gives us more to move around with.
B/R: Does Willis's championship ring from Alabama give you any motivation?
Pearlie: He never wears it around us.
B/R: How do you feel this new look Texas Tech defense will fare against the high octane offenses of the Big 12?
Pearlie: It will be a good run. We have a high-powered D.
B/R: Do you try to craft your game after anyone?
Pearlie: No, I try to come up with my own style of play.
B/R: You have a great first step and speed for a big guy. What other areas have you worked on this offseason?
Pearlie: My hands. That and getting more speed.
B/R: Can Texas Tech surprise and win the Big 12 this year?
Pearlie: Yes we can. I know we have a shot just like every other team in the Big 12.
B/R: What do you do to get away and relax?
Pearlie: I just go to my room, put on some slow music, and sing along til I get tired.