Friday, June 26, 2009

LaDainian Tomlinson back on campus

TCU football All-American and current San Diego Chargers All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson was on campus yesterday for an appearance at his annual summer camp in Fort Worth. LT went to every age group, making hand-offs to every camper and frequently saluting the kids' good form and stance.

About an hour later, Tomlinson spent about 15 minutes taking questions from the media. Having been away from campus since last summer, he remarked about the new Dutch Meyer Athletics Complex and Abe Martin Academic Enhancement Center.

“It’s good to be back at TCU again. They’ve done a great job with this place, building suites and everything else. Now, just looking for that BCS game."

Asked what had changed about TCU since his senior season nine years ago, he commented on the pictures of old Horned Frog heroes.

“What I see more than anything is the history. That’s the way that it should be. I love to see what they’ve done to the place with all the academic centers and the other things that have changed since I’ve been here. I’m looking forward to being around a little bit more as I go into the twilight of my career and then retirement, to come back here and watch some football games and tailgate. I’ve never been able to do that, so maybe in another five years or so.”

And, of course, having turned 30 on Tuesday, he answered a few questions about his future in the NFL and if he was slowing down.

“One thing that happens to guys as they get older is their energy level starts to decrease. It’s just human nature. Guys can’t work out like they use to. I don’t necessarily think that’s how it’s been for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any surgeries. My body still feels good and I work out just as hard as I use to. For me, that’s how I judge if I’m starting to slow down.”

Tomlinson also addressed the additional scrutiny he felt last season, in which he was injured.

“I can’t tell you how I feel inside, but I read the magazines. I’m just wondering what they’re going to say when I go out and lead the league again and win a Super Bowl. To me, that’s the number one goal. I haven’t won a championship yet and I said when I first got to San Diego that I wanted to bring a championship to the city, to the fans, and to the organization. I just have to finish what I started.”

He also teased a fun wrinkle the Chargers may have in store in the upcoming season.

“We’re doing the Wildcat [formation], but we’re calling it the ‘Frog.’ I’m lining up at quarterback. I’ve been getting on (head coach) Norv (Turner) about not letting me throw. He promised me that I’m going to throw two touchdowns this year.”

LT also gave a 20-minute Q and A with Frog Club Director John Denton at a meeting of the Committee to Back the Frogs. Invariably, the conversation turned to Tomlinson's NCAA-record 406-yard rushing game against UTEP in November 1999. But interestingly, it was a low point in that game that he remembers most.

"I remember late in the first half, we had the ball and I fumbled. They got the ball and went in and scored right before halftime to tie the game. In the locker room, Coach Fran got on my case, saying, 'Don't fumble the ball!' That got my focus back where it should have been, and I went out and got the record the second half."

He also joked with current head coach Gary Patterson, who was in the audience.

"We started getting good as we started getting depth. But I think Coach Patterson had 70 guys on defense, and we only got 30 for the offense. In practice, I think he was trying to put 12 or 13 guys out there."

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