Last February, Arizona Cardinals' rookie running back Tim Hightower was finishing his degree at the University of Richmond.
This February, he was catching passes from Kurt Warner on the world's largest sports stage.
Readers probably already know that the 2008 Richmond graduate caught the touchdown pass that put the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. He tacked on two more receptions and a carry during the championship.
During the regular season, Hightower carried the football in all 16 of the Cardinals' games, scored 10 touchdowns, rushed for 399 yards and caught 34 passes for 237 yards. During the postseason, he added 132 more rushing yards, two touchdowns and four receptions for 28 yards.
Now, during the off-season, Hightower said he would be relaxing and spending time with family. But he still found time for a visit to his alma mater and a brief appearance during Richmond's men's basketball game against St. Louis University. He also took some time to answer a few questions for The Collegian about the Super Bowl, his teammates and his NFL experience thus far.
The Collegian: What was your regular day like in season?
Tim Hightower: A regular day for me this season would consist of waking up at 6 a.m. to head over to the practice facilities. When I got there, I would usually either get some sort of treatment if I was injured at all or get a lift session in. We had the option of lifting either before or after practice, as long as we completed three before the end of the week. Next, it would be off to meetings, lasting from 7:30 to about 10 a.m. These meetings involved watching film and studying plays. Next, you go get taped and get whatever pre-practice treatment you needed. Practice was about two hours. After practice, because I was a rookie, I had to go get lunch for the veteran running backs and then go to meetings again for another hour. I usually would leave the facility around 3:30 p.m., then I would either go to my chiropractor to get adjusted, go get a massage and then get stretched, bringing me to about 7 p.m., when I would grab dinner and head home.
C: What was your favorite moment this season?
TH: Favorite moment would have to be scoring the winning touchdown to put my team in the Super Bowl.
C: How often was your family able to watch you?
TH: For the most part they came to every game, as they always do.
C: With which of your teammates do you spend the most time?
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TH: Edgerrin James.
C: Do you have more fun playing pro ball or college ball?
TH: I can't say either one was more fun. College prepared me for NFL. I got a chance to meet a lot of good people/teammates and coaches while at Richmond who over my years developed into lifelong friendships. The NFL is fun because it was my childhood dream since the fourth grade.
C: Is there anything specific that you do before your games?
TH: Stick to my routine, which is pray, thank God and warm-up.
C: Were you more nervous for the Super Bowl than other games?
TH: Not really. I was never really a nervous player. You work hard to get to this point and you're excited. You know the hard work is done and you're ready to showcase your blessings and talents in front of the world.
C: You were surely disappointed with the outcome of the Super Bowl, but what were some of your favorite moments from the night?
TH: It's a part of the game. We were blessed to make it that far and it gives us a lot of momentum heading into next year. I enjoyed the whole thing. As a kid you dream of playing in this sort of game. You are in the backyard with your friends making the final countdown, where you call your own number to make the game winning score and the crowd goes wild. To be able to experience it all -- the fans, media and just the level of respect -- was great.
C: Has the larger crowd impacted your playing transitioning from Richmond to the pros?
TH: At first, a little bit. When I'm on the field, I get into a zone where I have tunnel vision. I don't really pay attention to what's going on around me. I focus on my assignments. The Seattle game was the hardest because it was so loud I couldn't hear the play called a couple of times in the huddle.
C: What's your favorite part of living in Arizona?
TH: The weather.
C: What do you miss most about Richmond or your home in Maryland?
TH: All of the good people I met, and family.
C: How's your relationship with Edgerrin James?
TH: Our relationship is great. He's really been a blessing to me. He's like having a big brother, coach, mentor and friend all in one. He pushes me to be the best I can be and challenges me.
C: I'm sure it's a crazy season. What keeps you focused?
TH: Thinking about what I've endured to get to this point -- the sacrifices that were made by myself and others to get me to this point, and always keeping in mind the real reason I am here, which is to bring glory to God and be a blessing to others.
C: What was your most disappointing moment this season?
TH: Probably the Super Bowl, in which I gave up a sack. I had done a great job all season of protecting the quarterback and I feel like I let the team down in the biggest stage in the biggest game.
C: Did you get any new/interesting nicknames this season?
TH: A lot of attempts but none really stuck except the typical one -- "rookie/rook."
C: What's your favorite lift exercise?
TH: I love to jump rope. It's not a lift, but it's my favorite exercise.
C: What are your plans for the off season?
TH: Relax, see family and get ready for Super Bowl XLIV.
Contact staff writer Jacki Raithel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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