Oakland Raiders: Christo Bilukidi Interview
David Wilson – Aug 17, 2012
Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi takes time out of his busy camp schedule to answer some questions for the Raider Nation Times.
Bilukidi was not well know when the Raiders drafted him out of Georgia State in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but a strong performance in his debut against the Dallas Cowboys last week announced his arrival to the fan base. He was also on the radar for CFL teams, and was taken in the third round of the CFL Draft. An Angolan native, Bilukidi has lived in France, Canada, and Brazil before settling in the USA.
Those who have been wacthing the training camp updates, will know he has already impressed the coaches.
Since signing in with the Raiders, he has appeared on ‘Behind the shield’ with Jeanette Thompson, and often made himself available to the Bay area media.
This week, he has been generous enough to speak with Raider Nation Times.
Q. Firstly, congratulations on being drafted by the Raiders, and of course being the first player from Georgia State to be drafted to play professional football. Did you have any idea that the Raiders or any other NFL teams were scouting you?
A. Yes I did, the Raiders and other teams were setting up private visits and workouts to see me physically and my personality
Q. Desmond Bryant had a similar transition from small school defensive lineman (at Harvard) to NFL star. Have you had chance to talk to him about that?
A. Not at all, I talk to him almost every day and the subject has never come up. We both know that in the NFL it doesn't matter where you come from, it's what you can do on the field.
Q. There are some pretty good defensive tackles on the Oakland roster at the moment with Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. Have you had the opportunity to learn from those guys?
A. I learn every day from both of them. I've been fortunate enough to sit beside Tommy Kelly and get feedback from him.
Q. Defensively, who are the players who are the vocal leaders on this team?
A. I would say Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour; a lot of the players look up to them.
Q. You had a great debut against the Dallas Cowboys where you showed well against the run, but also that you had the ability to get to the quarterback. What feedback did you get from the coaches after the game?
A. Of course no film will ever be perfect, so they really coach you more on the errors you make. But they see the progression I'm making day by day and they trust me enough to get more reps because I had a pretty good debut.
Q. It seems the Raiders have been looking to mix in some 3-4 looks on defense, but there hasn’t been anyone who has stood out as a natural nose tackle. Have you been getting any practice time there or are you in the mix for that?
A. I'll play anywhere they want me to play, they know I have the ability to play anywhere on that line. But mostly I've been playing inside.
Q. Going against the Raiders Offense line in practice, who gives you the most trouble?
A. With bad technique, any O-Lineman can give me trouble, but if I play with good technique and a great get-off, I feel that I can compete with any O Lineman in the NFL.
Q. You are listed at 6’ 5” and 311lbs, but on the field you looked like a bigger physical presence that that. How close are those numbers?
A. They are actually pretty accurate, I vary from 308 to 312.
Q. Any message for the Raider Nation?
A. I'm starting to understand "once a Raider, always a Raider" every day that I'm out here. It has a rich tradition and an amazing fan base which I witnessed for a PRESEASON game! So I want the Raider Nation to know that I'm working hard every day to make this roster and help contribute in the upcoming season.
Bilukidi seems to demonstrate that inner confidence that you need to play at an elite level in this sport, whilst at the same time, the genuine humility that will endear him to both his team mates and the Raider Nation alike.
He joins both Desmond Bryant (Harvard), and Tommy Kelly (Mississipi State) as undrafted defensive tackles from small school programs on the Raiders roster. Not only in this interview, but in others, Bilukidi has emphasised what a vocal locker room leader Tommy Kelly is, and how much he means to this team.
With young talent like Bilukidi on Oakland’s depth chart, it looks like the defensive tackle position is in good hands for years to come.
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