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Falcons rookie adjusting to the Georgia heat
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In addition to drafting defensive back Dominique Franks in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons kept up their defensive focus in the sixth round, where they drafted Montana safety Shann Schillinger. A four-year letterman for the Grizzlies, Schillinger is known for a big frame and a lot of tackles (39 solo in his senior season). The Times’ James Wolfe met with Schillinger after the last day of Falcons organized team activities to discuss how the first series of practices went, how the defense looks compared to last season, and what the 24-year-old hopes to do after football.

Question: So looking at your first series of practices, how do you feel that you did?

Answer: I think things went pretty well for the most part. I still have a lot to learn, but I think that I’m coming along pretty good.

Q: What was your impression of how the team did overall?

A: I feel like the team did pretty good. Everybody seems to be flying around the ball and hustling. It was a well-organized, disciplined series of practices.

Q: Do you think that the defense is going to be better than last year’s?

A: Kind of hard to tell without seeing the film, and since we’ve only had the one series of practices, but my first thought is that it’s looking pretty good. The defense should be pretty strong.

Q: You were born and raised in Baker, Mont., and went to the University of Montana. How different are you finding Georgia?

A: First of all, obviously, it’s the climate and the humidity. It’s something that I’m not used to but it’s been good so far.

Q: Do you think that the change in climate has effected how you’ve done so far in practice?

A: Not really. I’ve been drinking more water and stuff like that so I don’t get dehydrated, but I don’t think it has had a negative impact on how I’ve practiced.

Q: How have the veterans treated the rookies so far since you’ve been in Atlanta?

A: The players have been really welcoming to us rookies and very helpful. That’s made the process easier and the coaches have made the process go as smoothly as it can go.

Q: No problems at all then?

A: None. I’m just thankful to be surrounded by good people right now. Atlanta is a great place to be with great people. I was really happy to get picked by the Falcons.

Q: Coming into the draft, what did you like the most about the possibility of coming to Atlanta?

A: I came down for a visit before the draft and I really liked coach (Mike) Smith and the defensive backs coaches. Coach Smith seemed like a really down-to-earth guy who really cared about his players on a personal level.

Q: How did making the Football Championship Subdivision championship game feel last season?

A: It was an incredible experience. Everything seemed to come together at the right time. I just wish we could have gotten that last win, but I still feel blessed that everything worked out the way it did.

Q: Are you a football-only guy now, or do you still keep to your high-school roots where you lettered in basketball?

A: I definitely still love basketball. I try my best to keep up with what’s going on in the basketball world; college and professional.

Q: You majored in education at Montana, why did you choose that academic track?

A: I grew up in a family full of teachers. So that’s kind of an ingrained passion that I have. I’ve learned a lot of great things from my coaches and teachers and so that’s something that I want to do one day.

Q: So after football you want to teach?

A: Whenever this ride ends, I’d love to be able to be a teacher and maybe get a chance to coach some football.

Q: What age group?

A: Seventh-12th, somewhere in the high school ranks. I was a secondary education major, so the kids who are a little older are that ones that I would like the most to teach.
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