NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans drafted Jurrell Casey in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Southern California.
Since, Casey has developed into one of the NFL's top defensive linemen.
He's coming off a Pro Bowl season, and he has over 430 tackles and 30 sacks in his playing career.
Titans Online sat down with Casey recently to discuss a number of topics, on the field and off it.
Here's how the conversation went….
Right out of the gate: How did you get steered into football?*
"My mother and my uncle, Horace Burns. He actually got me into Pop Warner. My brother and all of us played, and that is what started to drive me toward the game of football."
What were your thoughts when you first arrived in the NFL? Any long-term goals?
"The first thing is I wanted to make sure I earned a starting spot on the team. From Day 1, that was my mindset when I came in, and I was able to do that. Now my goal is to make it to the Hall of Fame. I want to be the best player I can possibly be every week on the practice field, and on Sundays."
How much did it mean to you to play in the Pro Bowl last year?
"It meant so much to me. You get the respect of the guys around the league, and just to be in the presence of the guys in the league, the best players in the league. And they showed me a lot of respect. It is a huge blessing, and it's where each individual should want to be."
Since I've been around you, I've heard you talk a lot about your mother, Collette Burns. Can you describe the impact she's made on your life? And when you think about your mom, what comes to your mind?*
"The biggest thing about my mom is her work ethic. No matter what the situation was when I was growing up, and no matter what was going on in our household, she was always dedicated to make sure we had exactly what we wanted, and exactly what we needed. She worked two jobs, and made sure she was there on time. She never missed a day. And she also made sure she was able to take care of her kids. When somebody can do that all by herself, it just shows you what you are capable of. She sacrificed for me, and helped set me up for a better lifestyle than she had."
Your older brother, Jurray, has impacted your life in a different way. Jurray was convicted of first-degree murder when he was younger. You've been very open in talking about that, while also crediting him for helping you refocus on becoming a better football player and student. How much did his experience influence your life?
"What happened to Jurray made a huge impact in my life. I could have definitely been in the same position he was in, or going in the same direction he went in when he was young. But he pushed me to go into the right direction and to make good decisions, and he kept me motivated to make sure I stuck with the talent God blessed me with."
You got married last summer. I know you and your wife, Ryann, set up the Casey Fund to help people in need, including people who have been incarcerated. She's an attorney in Nashville. How proud are you of Ryann, and what kind of impact has Ryann had on your life?*
"I am super proud of her. She is great, and she has done so much to help me. She tries to help me with my presence in public, my public speaking, and just helping me be more of a patient guy. She wants to try and build my character off the field rather than just being a great person on the field. She has helped me in all kinds of ways. On top of that, she is a hard-working woman, someone who is dedicated to her craft. She graduated from law school, and she passed the bar exam [in California] and then passed another bar in Nashville. I give her mad props for that, because some people wouldn't do it again. But she is dedicated to our relationship and our family, and she got the job done."
You grew up on California. What did you think of Nashville when you first got here, and what's your opinion of the city now?
"When I first got to Nashville, I thought it was going to be a dead city. But now, I see it's a live city. It's a great city. And you see how many people have moved here and how many people visit here. No matter what time of year it is you'll see tour groups here, and it's always packed. It is great. I am definitely loving it."
You have played for three head coaches since you've been here – Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt and now Mike Mularkey. What's different now?*
"I think the biggest thing now is team chemistry. A lot of guys who've been around here for a little while now, we've been able to build a relationship between one another, and we've embraced new guys who have come in. We now have a team that plays off one another and plays together."
You've worn the No.99 since you've been here. Any reason why?
"It's just a number I got when I got here. I had no intentions of wearing 99. When they called me and asked me what number I wanted, I told them 91. But 91 was gone, and they told me the next best numbers. I said, 'Stick me in 99.' Now, I love the number. I think it is a beast number, and it looks good for a defensive lineman. And I am trying to rock it."
What's your best memory as Titan?
"I'm going to have to hold off on that one until we win a Super Bowl."
Who's the best offensive lineman you've ever faced?
"I'd have to say Joe Thomas [of the Browns]. He is one of the best out there, and he is still crafty and shifty out there for his age. I say he has to be the best one."
What will you do when your playing career is over?
"The biggest thing is to get into the real estate market, and really try to get into the entrepreneur world and try to start up some things for myself. I don't have anything in mind in particular right now, I am focused on football. But that will be exciting too."
When your career is over, what do you want people to think of when they hear the name Jurrell Casey?
"I want them to think of a guy who worked hard no matter what, and a guy who pushed himself to be the best he could possibly be. I want them to remember me as a legend who played the game."
TitansOnline.com looks back at DT Jurrell Casey's 2015 season. (AP Photos)