Gokhan Ozkan Interview
Sr / Buffalo / OT

Updated - 3-27-13

By: Alex Khvatov


Alex Khvatov:  What are your exact measurements (height, weight and forty time)?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I am 6’6 , 325 right now.  The other day, I ran a 5.2.


Alex Khvatov:  You were born in Turkey, how has that experience shaped your life?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I was born in Turkey.  I lived there briefly.  Life is definitely different there.  Everything is smaller.  When I go back, it is hard to fit into cars there.  I get stared at by people because I am a big guy.  It is very different.  It was a whole lot different coming over here.  It was a big transition coming to the US.  I am glad that we made that transition.


Alex Khvatov:  What was that transition like moving from Turkey to New York City?

Gokhan Ozkan:  We lived in Istanbul, Turkey.  My dad decided to move to the US.  At the time, I really didn’t know what was going on.  My dad just wanted to give it a shot.  We moved out here.  I thought that it wasn’t a big deal at that time.  But looking back at it now, it was life changing for all of us.  I am living the American dream right now.   


Alex Khvatov:  Do you speak the Turkish language?

Gokhan Ozkan:  Yeah, I definitely speak the language.  Actually, I got left back in first grade because I couldn’t speak English.  My parents did a great job, so I won’t forget the language.  I spoke Turkish to them.  It was important to me to remember my culture and where I came from.             


Alex Khvatov:  When you were coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in you? 

Gokhan Ozkan:  I got letters from all over the east coast.  I was talking a lot to the University of Virginia my junior year.  Things just didn’t go the right way.  I just wanted to go to a D-I school.  Once Buffalo started looking at me, I really liked their school.  I loved the university itself because of their business program.  I gave them my full attention once Buffalo started looking at me.  They offered me.  I told myself that I don’t need any other schools.  It was just a perfect fit for me.


Alex Khvatov:  Describe your career at Buffalo to us.

Gokhan Ozkan:  I definitely feel like I made the right choice.  I came to the program in 2008.  We had the bowl year.  We had the whole Turner Gill era and then transitioning from his style of play to Coach Quinn.  He has an aggressive coaching style.  He has a background with Brian Kelly.  I just gained a lot of valuable experience from two different coaching styles.  I learned the business aspect of the game.  It is one of the best choices that I have made. 


Alex Khvatov:  How tough was it to finish your college career with a 4-8 overall record during your senior year?

Gokhan Ozkan:  We were a very close team going into our senior season.  Everyone bought into it.  We sacrificed a lot.  We had a fairly good game against Georgia.  It was a good game for us.  Things just didn’t go our way.  But we ended the season on a high note.  It would have been better if we got to the bowl game.  But the program is growing.  I am happy for the team itself. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your strengths?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I am aggressive.  I am consistent.  I am very passionate about the game.  I wear my heart on my sleeves.  I will get on guys if I see them slacking.  I like to run block.  I love the pass game.  The all-around game appeals to me. 


Alex Khvatov:   What areas of your game are you trying to improve upon?

Gokhan Ozkan:  Right now, I am building strength.  I need to stay a little lower, so it will be easier to move laterally.  There are always little things to work on. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is the highlight of your football career up to this point?

Gokhan Ozkan:  The highlight of my career would be this past year.  I played against Georgia.  I went up against Jarvis Jones.  He is one of the most elite athletes out there.  I played against Georgia in front of 90,000 fans in attendance.  It was a pretty good confidence boost for me being able to hold my own against Jarvis Jones.  I will always look back on it.  I will always remember it. 


Alex Khvatov:  Is Jarvis Jones the best player that you have gone up against?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I would say that he was the best player.  He pursues the ball really well.  He is very elusive and strong.  He knows the game.  It was a good battle between the two of us.  He is a great competitor. 


Alex Khvatov:  What did you enjoy the most about playing college football?

Gokhan Ozkan:  The thing that I will miss most is being around the guys in the locker room every day.  I enjoyed going to games with them and playing with them.  It is something that you can’t put a price on. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your favorite NFL team?

Gokhan Ozkan:  Anyone that gives me a shot.  That would be my favorite team. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who is your favorite NFL player?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I have always watched guys like David Diehl and Jake Long.  I watch Matt Kalil now.  I look up to those guys. 


Alex Khvatov:  What separates you from all of the other players at your position?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I am just more inspired to do it because I want to be the second Turkish player to ever play in the NFL.  I want to be recognized.  I want people to know that I came from a smaller school, but I can still make it.  Those things just keep me going. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who is the better player RB Branden Oliver or LB Khalil Mack?

Gokhan Ozkan:  You are going to make me choose against my two teammates.  They are both great players.  Khalil is great defensively.  He knows where he needs to be.  He knows what to do and he fights hard.  Branden is a hard-nosed guy who has a chip on his shoulder.  He fights really hard.  He makes the O-line better, and they want to block for him.  That is how it is always been. 


Alex Khvatov:  Which underclassman on your team should we keep an eye on in the future?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I have to give it to my buddy Najja Johnson.  He is a corner with impressive speed.  He puts up great numbers and he is very consistent.  He will shine next year.  You will notice him. 


Alex Khvatov:  Where are you training for the NFL Draft?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I am training at Absolute Performance in Buffalo.  I am training with Paul Childress and Tom Corradino.  They are two amazing trainers.  I have gotten a lot stronger since working out with them.  I feel great.  I am just doing all of the drills.  I feel more comfortable doing everything. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your training regimen like right now?  Take us into your daily routine.

Gokhan Ozkan:  I wake up and get some breakfast.  I head over to the gym.  I stretch out for about 20 minutes.  Today was an upper body day.  I spent about two hours working out and then I stretch some more.  Then I come home to rest up.  Then I head over to work out again in the evening.  I have been doing this for the past two months. 


Alex Khvatov:  Describe the anticipation leading up to your pro day.  What can we expect from you?

Gokhan Ozkan:  It is marked up on my calendar.  I have been looking forward to this day for quite awhile.  I am staying calm about it.  It is going to be a day during which I will have to perform.  It’s going to be fun.  I know that I will put up some impressive numbers.  I am very confident about it. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your definition of a leader?

Gokhan Ozkan:  A leader is someone who doesn’t demand, but says that we can do it.  It is someone who doesn’t point fingers.  You don’t have to be vocal.  But if you do speak, then guys will listen.  Your actions show that you are a leader.


Alex Khvatov:  What is the greatest lesson that you have learned in life so far?

Gokhan Ozkan:  Just staying humble and staying true to what you have to say.  When you work hard, everything will fall into place.  You can’t cheat anything.  My parents taught me that you have to work hard for everything. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your hobbies?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I like to hang out with all of my friends.  I like to stay low key.  I like to play video games. 


Alex Khvatov:  You received a degree in business finance, what do you want to do with your life after your football career comes to an end?

Gokhan Ozkan:  After football, I want to work for a financial company.  I want to work as a financial analyst or something along those lines.  Ideally, I want to get back into the athletic department.  It always intrigued me.    


Alex Khvatov:  How does it feel being a small fish in a large pond?

Gokhan Ozkan:  It gives me a chip on my shoulder.  You have a little extra to prove.  I use it as motivation ever since I started training for this.  You don’t get notoriety.  You have a lot to prove.


Alex Khvatov:  What is the feedback that you have received from scouts and coaches during this whole process?

Gokhan Ozkan:  I have talked to my agent John Hernandez.  He said that people are watching.  I just need to come out and perform during my pro day.  If I do well, I will turn some heads. 

Alex Khvatov:  Finish the sentence, Gokhan Ozkan is ….

Gokhan Ozkan:  On the field, I want to get after it.  I want to perfect my craft.  I want to do the best that I can.  Off the field, I am one of the goofier people that you will ever meet.  I like to joke around.  I am calm in my down time.  I get down to business when it is time for it.     


Discuss this on our Message Boards