Dec 9, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) with the ball as Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) and defensive tackle Andre Neblett (68) defend in the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Carolina Panthers Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn - Part One

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of having a sit-down interview with none other than Carolina Panthers’ cornerback, fan favorite, and South Carolina alumnus Captain Munnerlyn!

Before I get into the interview itself, I’d just like to thank Mr. Munnerlyn for his time and willingness to take a part of his day and spend it talking with me, a lowly Carolina Panthers writer, to do an interview.

I couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant young man to speak with than Captain Munnerlyn. He was very nice, polite, and just seems like an upbeat individual overall. Instead of a “reporter/interviewee” type of situation, I felt like I was speaking with an old friend or acquaintance. I just can’t say enough good things about him but will just finish by saying he’s an OUTSTANDING ambassador for the Panthers specifically and for the NFL in general. Although we spoke together for less than half an hour, I could tell he’s a very bright guy as well – something you can’t really see watching a football game without studying him in-depth – but he made quite a positive impression and by extension, he comes across as someone who ANY team would love to have in the locker room.

The key to the interview below – “KD” is me – Ken Dye – and “CM” is Captain Munnerlyn:

KD: Whom did you idolize growing up?

CM: Oh, Deion Sanders – Prime Time.

KD: Shocker there….one of the best ever. When did you decide to give football a try for yourself?

CM: When I was a kid, at 4 years old. I started in the local Pop Warner league from my hometown of Mobile, Alabama.

KD: Ah, you DID start young! With that in mind, there’s been a lot in the news about player safety…for instance the President saying he wouldn’t let his son play football if he had a son…what do you say to parents who express concern about their child playing football?

CM: Hmm. Well the biggest thing is to get them in the right program. Make sure they’re taught how to properly tackle, and to do things the right way and have proper coaching. I have a son and if I have to go out there and show them how to tackle and keep your head up or do other things, I will.

KD: Who was your personal mentor growing up playing football?

November 4, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

CM: Well I’ve got a personal trainer who is a coach back in Alabama and who isn’t much older than me; he taught me a lot. He’s actually been training me since I was in the seventh grade. My high school coach took me under his wing and in the tenth grade he changed me from wide receiver to cornerback.

KD: Yeah, I wanted to ask: Why Cornerback? It’s a very difficult and demanding position; one that’s under-appreciated I think, and often not mentioned unless they get burned or something! What made you switch from receiver to corner?

CM: Ah…well I’ll tell you a story…my high school coach helped me there. I went to his office and talked to him…I just said “Hey coach, I want to get the ball more” and he said “Oh, really? Okay, okay then – I’ll give you a BLUE jersey!” – a blue jersey is defense – and I told him “I don’t wanna play defense.” He said “Well, tomorrow you’re gonna play corner and if you don’t get the ball then, it’s your OWN fault!” Bein’ a receiver, you always want the ball but changing my position to cornerback you gotta go and get the ball.

KD: Well, I’d say you took to it quite nicely! What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

CM: Press coverage. Man-to-man press coverage. I’m a physical guy, and I’ll play off-coverage or whatever I’m asked to do, but I like to get in guys’ faces and put my hands on them and mess with their timing with the quarterback and force the receiver into going somewhere he doesn’t want to go.

KD: I guess if you can do that, the quarterback may go somewhere else with the ball then too.

CM: Yeah exactly, or I put myself in a position to make a play if he does throw my way. A lot of receivers I face these days are 6’2″ or 6’3″ so I can block and get under those guys, making it hard for them to get off the line.

KD: Yeah, I know you’re about 5’8″ but you’re strong at what, 190 or 195 pounds?

CM: Yeah I’m about 195.

KD: That’s a pretty solid, strong frame! I know you’ve just recently signed a 1-year contract. Does it have anything in there that allows you to play next year, or are you going to have to go through the same thing all over again?

CM: Well I want to be a Carolina Panther for a long time. We were working on a 3-year deal, but things weren’t quite there financially so we went ahead with the one-year deal. I know about the cap situation and hopefully, I’ll stay healthy and keep playing and let what I do on the field do my talking for me for the next time and get the extension that I want.

…more to come….Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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