(On his interest from the Buccaneers throughout this process)
"I talked to the Bucs at the NFLPA game. I talked to their scouts. He also called me actually the other day saying that the interest was still there. They were interested in me. The communication between me and the Buccaneers hasn't actually been as heavy as I've had with other teams. I'm still thankful as ever."
(On the resiliency he has coming back from two knee injuries)
"It's just honestly dedication and how bad do you really want it. It was a lot of doubters I had thinking I might be able to come back and play at the level I would be able to play at. I've been through a lot in my life just alone outside of football. Me just fighting adversity my whole life just allowed me when I tore my ACL – it's just another bump in the road that I have came across. When that came along it was just like, 'Man, let's just take the pieces I was dealt and just go with it, and I'm going to roll with it.' I just took it from there and attacking the rehab. I had a great [physical therapist] named Joe and he got me right almost day. I just got after it and I just want to get back on that field. I wasn't going to take no for an answer. I wanted it too bad."
(On what he thinks is the strength of his game and how it fits with the Buccaneers defense)
"My speed and my tenaciousness as a defender. I just feel like I'm going to be able to come in there and contribute. I feel like I have a good nose for the ball. I'm going to come give you the effort, and I'm tenacious. I'm going to keep coming after you. I feel like that's going to allow me to excel in any defense. I got the energy and effort that I bring to the table. I feel that's a line for success."
(On what he can learn from his injuries going forward)
"Just really be on top of your rest and hydration. That was really important in my process. Do a lot of single leg isolation workouts as opposed to doing squats here, deadlifts here. Do some single leg squats. Just do the same thing, just do it single leg so you can isolate your muscles. It just allows your tendons, as I believe, to be more stable. I do a lot of balance work to keep my muscles good."
(On what his most natural position and if he's always been an inside linebacker)
"Yes, I've always been a weakside linebacker, the Will, since I've stepped foot in college. In high school I played a stand up rush kind of guy, but for the most part as soon as I got to college I was always inside."
(On if he ever met Bruce Arians while at Temple)
"No, I haven't actually. Today was the first time that I actually had a chance to speak to him. It felt like I knew him with him being a Temple guy."
(On his experience playing at Raymond James against USF and how excited he is to return)
"Well, outside of football I haven't been in the Tampa area, but I've definitely been to Florida. I'm excited to be in the area. I know guys from Tampa, originally from Tampa. They tell me, 'My city so all this.' So, I'm excited to see what it's really about. As far as getting back to the stadium, I love it. I loved playing USF. I loved coming down here, playing on an NFL stadium. The grass was soft. The crowd was nice. I just loved the atmosphere out there."
(On examples of the adversity he has dealt with in his life and if those situations went through his mind as he was waiting to receive the call)
"Yes. Some adversity I went through, I mean, the hardest part of my life came right before high school. I got evicted from my home freshman year of high school. Me and my mom, my brother, my uncle and my uncle's girlfriend were all living there at the time and we all had to leave. We were going from motel to motel to motel. My mother ended up staying in the motel my whole high school career. I had to end up moving in with my high school football coach's parents, who are basically like my grandparents now. That's where I'm at today by the graces of God. They just looked out for me [and] took me in. They had my brother in here for a while, as well. They just honestly blessed me and my mother just by taking me in. At the same time, when we didn't have a home, we also didn't have a car because about two weeks later the engine locked up. So, we didn't have [anywhere] to go or [any] way to get there. That was kind of hard. Then at the same time, my father got diagnosed with cancer when I was going through this process sophomore year of high school. He ended up passing away my freshman year of college. As soon as I stepped in the door, he got taken away. I changed my last name to his because my last name originally wasn't even Russell, it was Cook before. I took his last name because I'm my father's son. I just wanted to make him proud and make my family proud. I feel like [with] everything I've been through, it's only right if I just keep going. What was going through my head this whole time was just being patient. I feel like there was a plan for me. I felt like I was going to fall into the right system and it was going to come at the right time. I was definitely anxious [and] definitely nervous, but I'm just thankful right now. I'm just relieved I got the call. [There are] Temple [alumni] down there [with the Buccaneers], it's a great atmosphere and a great place for me to be."
(On playing for Panthers HC Matt Rhule at Temple and the possibility of facing him twice a year in the NFL)
"As a coach, I love Matt Rhule. He recruited me and gave me my first scholarship offer as a sophomore in high school. He put his trust in me when nobody else did and I thank him for that. He's a great coach. When it's time to play him – at the end of the day, it's a business. It's either you or me at that point. I want to get the [win], I want to get the W. It would feel good obviously to see him first, but to get the W and to see him – especially at the level we're at now from being at Temple, to him going to Baylor to me being at Temple and now a Buccaneer – it's just a great feeling. I don't mind if I've got to play him two times a year in the NFL. He might know my game, but hey, you've got to stop it."
(On what it was like waiting for the call and what the moment was like when he got it)
"I just had [a lot of] nerves. I was sitting here just shaking kind of, like man, 'Is it going to come?' I was talking to my agent. We started thinking about free agent deals or whatever and we were about to lock in on a deal. As soon as my agent said that, that's when the Bucs came and it just kind of changed the whole aspect of everything. When it happened, I just couldn't believe it. As soon as they called me, I had just got off the phone with my agent, so I was like, 'Man, I wanted to get drafted.' It's cool to be a free agent – I had no problem with that – but the feeling of being drafted is indescribable. When I got the call and he was like, 'It's the general manger.' I was just stunned. I was like, 'This is it. This is the call that everybody else got that I've been waiting for.' It was just relieving. All the love [from] my boys I grew up with here, and my coach's parents that took care of me in high school, they're over here. My mother and the rest of my family is in Georgia, so they couldn't be here right now, but I'm definitely going to be in tune with them once this virus and everything is over with. It just feels great. It's indescribable. I just keep going on and on about the feeling because it's amazing. It's everything you wanted and everything you dreamed for."