Former Bull Mistral Raymond has had an eventful month since helping USF to an 8-5 season and a win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He's been training in Atlanta and recently earned MVP honors of the inaugural Dixie Gridiron Classic in St. George, Utah.
Raymond's career at USF saw him play in 25 games and start 15 at both cornerback and safety. He posted 96 tackles, 6.5 TFL, two INTs and seven PBU during his career. Last season, Raymond earned second-team All-BIG EAST honors after tallying 56 tackles, 4.5 TFL, an INT and seven PBU.
GoUSFBulls.com had the chance to catch up with the Palmetto native to talk about the last month, his career at USF and his senior season.
On what he's been up to since Bulls fans last saw him:
Training, that's the number one thing on my agenda right now. It's training and trying to become a better athlete. So, I've been here six days out of the week training, getting up at 8 o'clock in the morning and not coming home until seven in the afternoon.
On what type of training he's been doing:
A lot of agility stuff, plyometrics and even odd stuff such as yoga. I've been doing a lot of aquatic pool workouts. I have a massage therapist who I visit two times a week. We go to a chiropractor about four times a week, a lot of unorthodox stuff that I'm not used to, but I think it's stuff that I really benefit from.
On the most interesting part of the process so far:
My time management. You don't have that much free time on your hands. It's like everything has to be done on a strict agenda. So, the amount of time that you have throughout the day, to get so much stuff done and you have to be able to accomplish that by the end of the day. It's a wonderful feeling at the end knowing that you got so much done.
On his experience playing in the all-star game:
It was a great experience for me. I felt I really played a great game, probably one of the better games of my career actually. Just to put that helmet on one more time and represent for not only myself but for the University of South Florida, it was an incredible feeling. It was a great way to go out with the helmet one more time.
On his advice to the younger guys going through the collegiate experience:
It's something that I didn't do and that's to see the end now and just picture yourself at the end of your career and know what you want to have accomplished by the end. Just really focus in on that and take that approach to your everyday life, not just on the field but off the field and prepare yourself for the end because it goes by fast. Once you look back at it, you want to have nothing but positive thoughts and mainly it's just really get along with the guys, the fellas because once it's over, you're not going to think about the actual football as much as you are the guys who are in the locker room with you and your teammates. That is what I miss most about it, just being around my teammates."
On his favorite part about being a Bull:
Hands down, my teammates. Those guys are incredible; even now they call me every day and check in. They keep me posted on what's going on down there. Without a doubt, my teammates are hands down the most memorable aspect of my experience at the University of South Florida."
On what he would like an NFL scout or GM to know about him:
That I love the game of football. It's not just something I do for leisure or for fun but I actually have a strong passion for it. I study the game. I love to learn about it. I think my best days are ahead of me and if I can find a place where I can learn from some veterans, I think I can really be a contributor for a team.
On being named a captain senior year:
It definitely was an honor. I think about it now that I'm out of the program, more than I did at the time. I think it speaks volumes for the respect I earned from my teammates. The coaches have nothing to do with that stuff, that all comes from the teammates and the guys who I've cracked so many jokes with and spent so much time with in that locker room and off the field. So, for them to allow me to be captain was a tremendous honor and something that I will never take for granted, something that will be with me for the rest of my life.
On what South Florida has done to prepare him get where he is today:
It's given me a lot of value, a lot of things I didn't have coming into the program and that's just to be able to depend on people. There are going to be times, hard times, but you're forced to lean on someone and you can't do it alone. It has taught me how to trust people. Going through some of the things I went through, I lost a lot of trust for a lot of things but I got that stuff back. It just taught me how to trust people. I know that people are on my side and that they will be there for me, that's the most important thing.
On Coach Holtz and being a part of his program:
He's one of the more flexible guys that I've had the opportunity to be around. You're not going to meet too many people who are in a position of so much power but are still kind of open to taking advice from not only his staff but, from the guys he is coaching. He's a player's coach. I know for a fact that the guys in the locker room love him, they love the things he's done for the program, they love the things that he's done for them as individuals.
On training and learning under Coach Smith:
Coach Smith is hands down the best coach ever, that I've had the opportunity to play underneath. He's more of a father figure of a coach. I remember the first thing he said when he came in the defensive back room on his first day. He asked all the defensive backs, 'raise your hand if you want to be treated like a man.' Everybody raised their hand. So, from that day forward, any time there was an issue, he said, 'you wanted to be treated like a man, I'm going to treat you like a man.' That's what he does, he treats the players like men. He is not going to baby anybody, he doesn't pick favorites, he treats the players equal. He knows how to get the best out of each and every one of his players. As far as the game is concerned, he's had the opportunity to coach for so long in so many places, so many different techniques, and he knows how to get the best out of each and every one of the players."
A message to the fans:
I just want the fans to know that I will forever be a Bull. I'm on the website as often as I can. I'm talking with the players. I'm trying to stay as up to speed as I can with the program. I love the University of South Florida and the fans have been a tremendous factor in the building of this program. Running out of that tunnel and going out for those coin tosses and feeling the energy in that stadium come game day, it's definitely something that I will never forget. I just want to say that as players and coaches, we really do appreciate it."