In the past year, former Maryland nose tackle Darius Kilgo has overcome an NFL combine snub to get drafted by the Denver Broncos, earned early playing time and had the chance to learn on one of the NFL's best defenses. His rookie season is stretching as long as it can, too, with the Broncos set to take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 this weekend in Santa Clara, Calif.
Kilgo plans on relishing every moment this week and soaking in everything happening around him. And though that's been something he has done all season, he still had the chance to keep track of his alma mater and some of his former teammates.
On Maryland's season and coaching change:
"I know what it feels like, the years that I was there, I know what it feels like to have losing seasons and to go through coaching changes. It's definitely hard to just to sit back and watch those guys go through a struggling season like that. I feel like the future's bright for those guys, and I feel like the coaching staff that's coming in will definitely help change the culture there."
On former defensive linemates Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson declaring for the NFL draft:
"I think those guys have a great chance. Yannick, he's a workhorse and that's one thing he did while I was there. He picked my brain and he was talking to me about things and I tried to help him out as a young player. He's definitely blossomed out to be one of the best, so I think he has a great chance to get drafted.
"Quinton, he'll be in good shape. He has the athletic ability, he has the body. He's in the senior bowl, so that's his opportunity to show what he can really do, so I think taking advantage of that will be great for him. I think all those guys have a pretty good chance."
On the rookie season of former teammate Stefon Diggs with the Minnesota Vikings:
"I wasn't surprised at all. Just being with Stef at Maryland, I know what type of worker he was, I know how hard he worked and how bad he really wanted to be in the position he's in now. I'm happy for him. It's a blessing, just coming from your first year and having a great year like that. It's exciting."
On being Peyton Manning's teammate:
"It's great. Sometimes it's still hard for me to believe that I'm still on the team with him, so it's just being able to watch the way he prepares and how he carries himself, how he's really a leader of this team. It's really impressive, and I've just kind of been trying to soak it all in."
On being a rookie in Denver:
"It was definitely different coming from the East Coast. I like it. It's different. The weather is different. You've got the mountains in the background. People are polite. I love the organization. Great teammates. I just feel like it was the best that could have happened to me. I just feel like it was meant to be."