Overcoming the Odds: An Interview with Mario T. Louis
“I’m not the type to go out and boast and brag about my game, I just let my game talk for me only because I know the work and dedication I put into it so I just go out and perform.”
- Mario T. Louis, Houston Texans , Wide Receiver, Grambling State University
Being an Undrafted Free Agent isn’t standing in the way of Mario Louis’ drive to prove himself and push for that coveted roster spot. Texans faithful know we need help at the WR position, and although we drafted two receivers in the first five picks and two more (including Louis) through UDFA, do not count Louis out. He plays hard on the ball and is always looking to score.
Louis’ head coach at Grambling State University, Doug Williams, the notable Redskins QB during the 1987 Super Bowl XXII run, who was MVP of the game and who has been coaching and scouting at the NFL and college levels since 1994, has called Louis “the best NFL prospect he has ever coached.” Williams, who was a Jacksonville Jaguars scout during Terrell Owens’ coming out party at the Blue-Gray Game in 1996, says of Louis: “Mario is the closest thing to Terrell, from what we’ve done and what he’s capable of doing.” As a senior at Grambling, Louis caught 51 passes for 1129 yards and 18 touchdowns. At his pro day, The 6’0″, 195 lb. Louis ran a 4.52 second 40-yard dash on a notably slow track.
Louis transferred to Grambling in 2007. Played some basketball in high school. Played some intramural football after transferring to Grambling. However, upon seeing his raw talent, his teammates and intramural fans suggested he try out for the University’s football team and by 2009 he was in. Louis credits teammates and coaching staff members with his ultra-quick development from no gridiron experience to noteriety that led fans to begin calling him “Super Mario” (yes, Texans fans, you read that right!)
Though it may take quite a bit of on-the-field-proving-himself before Texans fans ever use the nickname “Super Mario” again, it was Louis himself who made the transition from casual player to Grambling super star look simply effortless. Remaining Grambling WRs are now feeling the pressure to perform in the vacuum left by Louis’ departure to Houston. After all, in 2011, Louis accounted for more than half of the Tiger’s receiving yards and TDs.
We know the competition will be fierce at this 2012 Houston Texans training camp, but without a doubt there is no counting Mario Louis out. He is a proven fighter, filled with a modesty belying his natural ability.
First off, Mario, congratulations on coming to Houston. What are you feeling right now?
I’m feeling real anxious and ready to get out there to start learning. Ready to step foot on the field.
What inspires you to earn your spot into the league and onto the Texans squad?
My inspiration is being able to beat the odds of us so-called “small school” guys who are very much overlooked. Also want to put my school Grambling State back on the map after only having a small number of players in the league.
Who influenced you the most in your life to get to this point?
I can’t give credit to one person but my entire family has been so influential to me and understanding our situation as a family just drives me to do whatever to help that situation. Also my son who I wake up every morning for, that’s my heart.
My road getting to Grambling was sort of a crazy situation where I was attending the University of New Orleans and some of my best friends pretty much did their own recruiting to get me to come out there just for school, not on any try to play sports type deal. And that’s where my football career pretty much began and progressed from.
What did Grambling State University mean to you as a student athlete?
One thing Coach (Doug) Williams always stressed to us as a team is “We’re Grambling” and that made me respect and love my school more because he made me realize that this is where I gave my blood sweat and tears on and off the field. Grambling is second to none when I think of any other school.
How did Coach Williams and the staff at Grambling prepare you for this next step?
Head Coach Williams and every coach pretty much mentored me on and off field, really more with me being able to handle myself and family matters and talking to me about keeping myself clean and away from trouble. They also gave me pointers about my onfield work clean things up in my game. (WR) Coach Sammie White did a great deal of that so a lot of that credit is owed to him.
Was there any idea on your part you might land in Houston?
Well, I really didn’t have a clear idea about it because plenty of teams contacted me prior to the draft but I can say that the Texans were of the few teams that seemed very interested in me. But I never just thought that that’s where I’m going.
Who did you hear from on the Texans staff and what was that call like?
My agent actually called me and told me that the deal was done so the phone went to him or however it went. And I heard from (Texans WR) Coach Larry Kirksey a few days after. He just said that he was excited to have me come out there but nothing in detail really.
What are your strengths at WR and do you have any areas for improvement?
My strengths are: I play off of reflex, meaning I don’t have a predetermined move when playing and I attack the ball very well. I believe I have a nice ability to make plays after the catch because I’m always trying to score. There’s always things that can improve for anybody and I’ll be the first to say that there’s one attribute in my game that doesn’t need improvement so my whole game can use improvement because I want to be the best.
Tell us something about yourself that Texans fans need to know to know the real Mario T. Louis.
To all the Houston Texans fans out there, I’m not the type to go out and boast and brag about my game I just let my game talk for me, only because I know the work and dedication I put into it so I just go out and perform. I’m a very hard worker and my own worst critic because I’m out here to help the Texans succeed and that comes with being the best football player I can possibly be.
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