Marvin Philip was a SuperPrep rated All-County lineman at Oak Ridge High School in Cameron Park, California before heading off to play for the Cal Bears in 2000.  He started several games as a true freshman and then spent the next two years serving an LDS mission in the Midwest region. He regained the starting center position late in his sophomore season (2003) and he was All Pac-10, second team A.P. All-American, and a Rimington Award finalist his junior and senior seasons. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft by the reigning Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

CG365:  How would you compare the Steelers’ preseason training camp with what you experienced at Cal?

MP:  It’s much more competitive. Everybody in camp was an All-American or superstar of some sort in college, so the competition level is really high. We’ve got guys here that are ten years older than me (laughs) and I’m the oldest rookie here. You’re not just playing with kids—in the NFL you’re playing with grown men.

CG365:  Did you have to sing your Cal fight song in camp yet?

MP: No, they made me get up and sing, but I chose a song that everybody knew, so it became a sing-along. I sang an R&B song by a guy named Donell Jones.

CG365:  What was the title of it?

MP:  “Knocks Me Off My Feet.”

CG365:  And while you were singing it you were looking directly at that defensive lineman you’ve been going up against in camp, right?

MP:  (laughs)  Oh yeah…

CG365: So who have you connected with in camp so far, is there anyone from Cal on the team?

MP:  Yeah, Chidi Iwuoma (sixth year defensive back).  I played with him my freshman year. Back in 2000, he was a senior and I was a true freshman coming in and I had the opportunity to start, so we got to know each other back then.

CG365:  So, you guys have been able to do a little Cal bonding, huh?

MP:  Oh yeah. We talked a little bit when I came here for mini-camp, and he told me how proud he was that we were able to turn the things around at his alma mater.  Cal’s come a long way from when Chidi and I played together.

CG365:  Yes, it’s been an amazing turnaround from when you were first recruited and now Cal’s a perennial Top 20 preseason pick.

MP:  You know, that was the vision that we had, but it took a new coaching staff to bring that about, and it’s fun to see it now.

CG365:  Back to the preseason training camp for a second.  Which training table food is better, the NFL or college?

MP:  (laughs)  Hands down, the NFL.  They treat us much better here. When you’re only allowed to spend so much money on food [like in college] don’t expect it to be too good.  To be honest, I can’t complain, though.  It wasn’t bad in college.

CG365: How about the speed of the game on the playing field—do you notice a huge difference from college?

MP:  Most definitely. I met up with a former teammate of mine from Cal, J.J. Arrington, at our preseason game with the Cardinals and he told me the game is even ten times faster once it hits the regular season. I can’t even imagine that.  I’ve got to get my eyes to move fast enough so I can see all those linebackers.

CG365:  What about those defensive linemen from BYU on the roster—have they been talking any smack with you about how their alma mater should’ve won last year’s Las Vegas Bowl?

MP: Yeah, I talked to Shawn Nua and Chris Hoke about that.  You know they walk around with their BYU shirts, so I have to remind them what happened in last year’s game.

CG365:  And then they pull out their other t-shirts that read “Super Bowl Champions…”  and you’re thinking “You had to wait until you got to the Steelers before you could wear something with “Champion” on it, buddy.”

MP: (laughing) Yep, yep, exactly!

CG365: You know you left behind a pretty loaded Cal team for this year.  Is that sort of bittersweet to you? Do you wish you had another year left?

MP: Well, you know I think I paid my dues there the last two years. Last year we had a great team with a little bit of a quarterback situation. The year before we went 10-1 with the only loss coming to USC, so I played with some good teams there. I think I was ready to move on.  I think they have a chance of playing for the national championship this year. They’re stocked with talent—a lot of youth on that team. Right now, it’s just a matter of getting things to mesh so they can compete on that level.

CG365: Obviously, the first step toward the national championship is winning the Pac-10. What’s it going to take for Cal to dethrone USC?

MP:  I think it’s gonna take a lot of things. They’ve got all the talent in the world to do it, but more than anything else, it’s a matter of getting out on the practice field and finding that chemistry. They’ve got a new offensive line that hasn’t really played with each other and a young quarterback in Nate Longshore, so it’s just a matter of finding that chemistry on that level.

CG365:  So you think Cal’s chances to win the Pac-10 and compete for the national championship really hinges on developing a solid team chemistry this year?

MP: Yes, yes it does.

CG365: Well, it will be interesting to see what happens because the conference appears to be very balanced this year. Marvin, thanks for your time with us. Good luck this year with the Steelers.

MP:  Thank you.