In an effort to learn more about the 2011 Buffalo Bills draft class members, Buffalobills.com has launched a new Q&A feature called FOUR DOWNS …
Today, UNC football radio analyst Rick Steinbacher talks about Bills' fourth round selection (100th overall) safety Da'Norris Searcy. Steinbacher has high praise for Searcy's ability to make explosive plays on the football field, his dedication to service in the Chapel Hill community and his ambition and ability to potentially enter the broadcasting profession later in life.
Steinbacher shares more impressions of Searcy in today's edition of FOUR DOWNS …
Describe Da'Norris in 30 seconds or lessI think Da'Norris is first and foremost a great person and a real outgoing, electrifying type of personality. He is a good student, and a heck of a football player. I think he had a real challenge this year missing the first three games of the year and handled that adversity very, very well and came on to have a great senior season. I think he is kind of everything you look for in a student-athlete at the college level, and I think he is the type of person that will not only be a great player for the Bills, but a good ambassador for the community as well.
What is Da'Norris' best quality as a football player?As a football player, I'd say his number one quality is his explosiveness. He has been the punt returner here at Carolina for several years and when you watch him return a punt you just see something that is hard to put into words. Not only speed, but that explosiveness - he gets up field right away. I think that is his best quality as a football player. That is what makes him as good as he is as a punt returner and it is also what makes him as good as he is as a safety, breaking on a ball once it is in the air or coming up in run support. I think he ran a 4.57 at the Combine which is really good, certainly that's not blazing speed but his first step is a lot quicker than most other people I have seen at the safety position.
What would you say about the importance of his versatility in the backfield?He is 5'11, 223 pounds – so he is a big guy. He is a guy that can play run support. He is a tough, physical, fearless guy, but he also has really good ball skills and good instincts. So I think that package all together is what makes him able to do what he does as a safety.
What is the most memorable moment in his college career?For me, it would have to be that first game back against East Carolina this year, which is a big rivalry game for us. He had to sit out a number of games and then was completely cleared and he responded with, I forget what it was in the game, but stepping in front of a pass and taking it back 46 yards for a touchdown. That was my most memorable moment just because I knew how excited he was to be back on the football field and to see him make an impact in such a positive way that quickly was a lot of fun to watch.
What do you think he learned from the academic scandal at North Carolina and missing the first few games?I think it was a challenging year for everybody associated with the program; probably no one more so than the players that had to miss games. Da'Norris was one of those ones that had to miss the first few games but then was cleared as completely eligible. So you can imagine the potential for someone to be frustrated by that process but Da'Norris, if he was and I am sure he was, he did not show the effects once he got back on the field. His first game out, he had a great game. He had an interception and returned it for a touchdown and went on to have an outstanding senior season. He led the team with four interceptions, was 15th in the country in interceptions despite having missed the first quarter of the season. I think it was just a great example of someone responding to adversity in a very, very positive way.
What will Da'Norris bring to the Buffalo Bills football team?He is the kind of guy you want on your team. And I say that whether you are talking Pop Warner, to high school, to college, to the NFL in that he is just a very positive, upbeat person. He is always smiling. He is a guy that is going to lead the team on the field; he is also going to really represent the team really well off the field.
Carolina gives out a spirit of service award to the player on the team that does the most in the community and Da'Norris Searcy was easily the winner of that award this year. If there is a community service event going on, he is not only there but he is enjoying it and he is kind of the life of the event. He is a positive teammate in so many ways off the field, in the locker room, in the community, and then he does good things on the football field as well. He is the complete package in that regard.
If you could compare Da'Norris to a current NFL player, who would that be?He doesn't have the speed of Deion Sanders but maybe because I just love the way he (Searcy) returns punts and there's no one that I've ever seen that excites me more when they are back there to return a punt other than Deion Sanders a number of years ago. He is fearless as a punt returner. He is going to catch that football, he is going to find a hole, but then he is going to put his foot in the ground and he is going to get up field really, really fast. He is a fearless returner. My best memories of Da'Norris playing at Carolina are returning punts and making some explosive plays in that regard, and that is why I think of Deion Sanders when I think of him. They are different in terms of speed but that is who I think of.
Where do you think he will make the biggest impact on the 2011 Buffalo Bills football team?Obviously I have not studied the Bills roster, but I think he has the potential to make a big impact at safety as a nickel back and then as a punt returner on special teams. I think he has got the ability to do all those things at the NFL level.
Can you tell us something about Da'Norris that isn't available in his bio or that a lot of people wouldn't know about him?I think just as I said, community is very important to him. His teammates are very important to him. He and Johnny White (RB) are very, very close friends so the fact that they are going to Buffalo together… and they are both similar in what I described to you a moment ago. They are both positive members of a team. They are both the kind of people you want in the locker room with you whether you are a player or whether you are a coach.
Da'Norris is someone that family is very, very important to. Even his jersey number at Carolina (#21) he picked it based on when his grandmother was born.
At one point, someone in his family had been touched by breast cancer and Da'Norris went to the coaches and asked 'Hey, can I wear pink shoe laces in honor of my family member that was affected by that,' and the coaches said 'Sure.' Then he got a bunch of his teammates to do the same thing. He is just a guy that has that kind of impact on a team, on the field, in the community in a very, very positive way. He is all that is right with sports – that is the way that I would put it.
Does he have a talent, hobby, or gift other than playing football?I know he is interested in being a broadcaster later in life and he strikes me as someone that would be really good at that because he is well-spoken. He is an articulate, intelligent person, and he is also got a really good upbeat, positive personality. That is the thing that would strike me is just his talents and his personality lead very well to what he has stated as his career ambition which is something in the communications field, and most likely something that is sports broadcasting.