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Q&A with Vernon Carey

Wednesday I was sent out to Dolphins camp and took advantage of bumping into Vernon Carey, a former Hurricane and Northwestern offensive lineman who has grown from a first round pick into the Dolphins' starting left tackle.

Mount Vernon and I talked about a lot: This year's Bulls team which is ranked No. 1 in the country; his Vernon_careyimpressions of the 2006 and 2007 Bulls versus the 1998 undefeated state champions Carey played with; former Northwestern coach Roland Smith; and Carey's Northwestern pride. If you'd like to listen to the audio yourself, it is available here at Miami Herald.com on our high school audio link. High School writers Andre Fernandez, Bob Emanuel and myself link audio from games all the time here and hopefully it will become a feature you check out on a regular basis.

Here's the Vernon Carey interview. Just so you know, Carey does a lot for his community. According to the Dolphins, he donates 22 tickets to Brownsville Middle School in Liberty City before all Dolphins home games. He and his wife LaTavia Banks mentor students there as well.

Q: Have you had a chance to go out and see this year's Northwestern team in person?
A: "No I haven't. But I saw last year's team."

Q: What did you think of the 2006 Bulls?
A: "Great team. They ran the ball well. They passed the ball well and they had good defense. From what I saw from them this year on TV [The Southlake Carroll game], they made a couple of mistakes. But it's a new coaching staff. It was a big game. If they wouldn't have made so many mistakes, they probably would have just blown those guys out. But I think its a great team. To play the way they played and still beat that top-tier team was impressive."

Q: So, what if this year's No. 1 nationally ranked team played that great 1998 team you were on, the 15-0 undefeated state champs. Who would win? (The 1998 Bulls had NFL receiver Antonio Bryant, Carey at left tackle and a number of other talented Bulls who went on to play Division I college football).
A: "We would have won because we had defense. I'm not saying defense is their problem, but we had a great defense and we would have had enough offense to score points. We had cornerbacks and everything."

Q: What did you think of what happened last year at the school (with former running back Antwain Easterling and the removal of 21 employees in the aftermath of an alleged cover-up)?
A: "It was bad to see something like that happen to the school. But I feel more bad for the coaches. I felt like the coaches were really trying to do a good thing and keep that kid's future alive and going to college and things like that. I look back and think about it now. The coaches have been more punished than the player. He's going to college, but the coaches are out on the street, not coaching. It's their team and now they got to sit back and watch it because they were trying to help a kid be successful and nobody else punished him and it was their job and they didn't know. It's bad to see that."

Q: What about coach [Roland] Smith? You've spoken to him, seen him at all? How is he doing?
A: "Oh yeah, we go to the same church. But we don't really talk about that. I'm sure he's doing good. He's a guy who cared more about the kids anyway. He would rather step behind and not be the coach than the players not being able to play. I'm sure he's happy because of that."

Q: I know high school is more than behind you -- almost 10 years now. But how much pride do you still have about being a Bull and how much do guys still talk about that?
A: "Oh yeah I have a lot of pride. Even when we were in the game with Oakland. I was messing with [former Hurricane and Apopka High graduate] Warren Sapp. I told him how Jacory [Harris] made player of the week. I flashed him the Bulls sign. I'm always going to be representing Northwestern High School."

- Manny Navarro