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Gotsis believes Kollar, Broncos best he could ask for to improve his game

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In this exclusive interview with MHR, Adam "he's got-sis" Gotsis tells us he has his sights set on getting healthy and suiting up Week 1 for the Broncos' Super Bowl rematch. It's a lofty goal, no doubt, but the rookie defensive lineman believes with this coaching staff and Pro Bowl players all around hi Mom, he's in the right place to get better. A LOT better.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Adam Gotsis started playing "Madden" as a teenager in Australia, he's craved learning American football.

And ever since Bill Kollar has been coaching football, he's craved teaching it.

So if there were a more perfect NFL protegé-coach union than Gotsis-Kollar, I dare you to find it.

"Really a good kid, type of kid you want to end up having...he lives and dies football," Kollar said just after the Broncos took the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket in the second round of the NFL Draft.

The long-time defensive line coach acknowledges that when he saw film on Gotsis, he didn't see a polished player.

He didn't want to.

"He is going to do whatever he can do to get as good as he can get and that is what you really want," Kollar added. "You need guys that really live and breathe football and that is what we have got with Adam."

And even as a relatively young student of the American game, Gotsis didn't see Kollar as the kind of coach who would go easy on him because he was new.

He wouldn't want him to.

"I think our first conversation he blasted me a little bit and that's what I wanted," Gotsis said in his first Broncos presser, adding that the coach told the Aussie he had a great motor but needed a lot of improvement.

Gotsis' reaction?

"I can't wait to play for him."

Perhaps the rookie isn't aware that his new coach once wrestled a bear while playing as a defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 70s?

I told [Kollar] I'm going to need some video on that bear-wrestling story. But knowing him, he might be the one guy who would do it. He's a hell of a good coach. -Adam Gotsis on DL Coach Bill Kollar

"I heard that story the other day, and I told him I'm going to need some video on that," Gotsis says, laughing. "But knowing him, he might be the one guy who would do it. He's a hell of a good coach."

In Dove Valley just a few weeks and Gotsis already knows Kollar is the coach for him.

"In meetings, the amount of detail he puts into plays, he really understands it," Gotsis says, naming guys like Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams who elevated their play once Kollar came to town. "If you listen to him, you'll get a lot of production and have a successful career."

Kollar won't take credit for the Broncos being confident in Gotsis because they believe the coach can make the rookie good - he just believes the kid has a lot of upside.

But the defensive line coach who is known for his passion - and losing his voice - did mention last year when he joined the Broncos' coaching staff, that he would dispense tough love to his players.

"I always start out by telling them, I am going to be on your ass. I am doing it for one reason: to get you to be as good a player you can be," Kollar said. "They either get it and do it the right way, or they are gone. That's just the way it is, dude."

And that's the way Gotsis prefers it.

They teach everything about the technique, the situation, the game...it's a hell of a good coaching staff. - Rookie DL Adam Gotsis

"100 percent right," he says of the "teaching" culture that exists among the coaches in Dove Valley. "They teach everything about the technique, the situation, the game...it's a hell of a good coaching staff, and [Kollar] is a hell of a great coach, and I'm looking forward to learning from him."

Gotsis will certainly need it as he has only been playing this game seven years - about half the time as many of his fellow rookies and just a blip compared to the football CVs of many of his fellow defenders.

But Gotsis is not the least bit intimidated by his lack of experience.

If anything, he is bolstered by it. After all, having a lot to work on despite some success so far is evidence his potential is limitless.

"I have so much learning to do," Gotsis says straightaway, "but with two great coaches who have been very successful in the NFL, if you're a rookie on this team, you're really in for a treat."

And that's exactly how he looks at the learning curve he must tackle in the few short months ahead before he even considers tackling 240-pound NFL quarterbacks - as a treat.

No wonder Kollar liked him immediately.

Experts (including John Elway) like to say the 287-pound, 6-foot-5 lineman has a "high ceiling," but the Aussie doesn't really think his ceiling is any different than any other player looking to improve.

"Just being open to coaching and learning increases that ceiling (no matter who you are)," Gotsis says. "I haven't had much coaching except in college, and now I've got a great coach, so I'm just going to make sure I'm ready."

He's 'come a long way, baby'

Gotsis' back story is pretty familiar now. The 23-year-old grew up in Melbourne playing Australian Rules Football where players are constantly running, and the main scoring technique is kicking. When Gotsis' mom found a flyer for an American football club, the Monash Warriors, the 15-year-old Aussie was intrigued.

But the Australian version of the American game - also known as 'gridiron' Down Under - still left a bit to be desired in its complexity and scheme.

"We went from Australia [having] two plays on defense to coming here and having 100 different plays," Gotsis said during the Combine, noting the "playbook" in Australia was quite a bit different than the one he was given at Georgia Tech.

Gotsis arrived in Atlanta thanks to a connection between Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and Gotsis' coach for the Warriors gridiron club.

"Everything was new to him. Playing double teams. Pass protection. Pass moves. Slant steps. All that stuff was just new to him," said Georgia Tech defensive line coach Mike Pelton. "If he gets a chance (in the NFL), he'll be there just because it's going to be hard to cut him."

Playing 12 games as a true freshman after learning an entire playbook in a couple months speaks volumes about Gotsis' potential.

But it's his work ethic in general that often attracts so much attention. In fact, the Georgia Tech strength coach now has the "Adam Gotsis Standard" to determine which players are serious about getting stronger, playing better.

Yet Gotsis really doesn't see it as setting the bar high for others to follow. Instead, he looks at everything along a continuum - and the goal is to always move forward, get better.

"Always room for improvement. My strength, reading the play, getting off the blocks...whatever it is, I've got to step up to the next level now," Gotsis says as the team enters a second week of OTAs. "At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make it in the NFL, and when you're going against Pro Bowlers every day, you've got to be ready."

This mentality that he's bringing into the NFL is really just an extension of his approach when he left home for college in the States and had to play football with guys who had been doing it for years.

"I just knew I had to come and outwork everyone," Gotsis said. "Not only at [Georgia Tech] but across the country. That's kind of where I got that work ethic from, is just that self-motivation. I know that there's someone else out there working just as hard as me."

Mental reps for OTAs

Gotsis is anxious to get that "work" started for the Broncos, but the rookie is still rehabbing an ACL injury he suffered last October, so the second-round draft pick who just signed his rookie contract for $3.9 million is spending most of OTAs in meetings, doing mental reps and maintaining physical therapy.

"I feel like I'm in good hands," he says, anticipating being ready when training camp starts the end of July. "I just want to get healthy and then get out there in this defense and contribute."

Coming out of a 4-3 scheme at Georgia Tech, Gotsis believes his strongest play is inside, but he's open to whatever Kollar and the coaching staff want out of him.

"To play in this defense you have to be able to play all positions," Gotsis noted. "I probably like the three-technique best, but I can play everywhere - doesn't bother me."

One thing Gotsis is very clear about though is his love for sacking the quarterback. His ability to actually do that was another quality that really attracted Kollar to this raw defensive lineman.

"The guy really played hard, which you want no matter what," Kollar told the Denver Post about his film review of Gotsis, who as a three-year starter at Georgia Tech, racked up 110 tackles and 12.5 sacks before getting injured halfway through his senior season. "Then he's got the ability to rush the passer. Nowadays, as a defensive lineman you've got to be able to rush the passer. He shows that."

Gotsis is definitely looking forward to getting a big tackle - hopefully a sack - at his first home game in Denver. Having watched the Broncos throughout the playoffs last season, he cannot wait to get his own taste of the Mile High Magic.

"It's just awesome," he says. "I cannot wait to go out for the first time on the home field and make a play and hear that crowd. And then keep making plays."

Although Denver is a long way from home, Gotsis looks forward to his parents, older brother and two younger sisters making the trek to the States to watch him suit up for the Broncos. They have been his support network from day one, and that won't change now that he's made it to the pros.

Gotsis knows it could be several games into this season or even next before he's on the field, but he's got his sights on Week 1 versus the Panthers anyway.

He can't help it - the energy the team already feels about playing a Super Bowl rematch first game of the year has Gotsis revved up to play.

Competing against these veterans and Pro Bowlers will be an uphill battle...But competition brings out the best in everyone. -Adam Gotsis

"That would be unreal," he says, pointing out both teams will have the proverbial chip on their shoulders. "I'm just really looking forward to that - whether I'm on the field or in the stands or on the sidelines. It's going to be an awesome thing. "

And he's not worried about the big stage one bit. After all, he and the rest of the rookies are competing for spots against Pro Bowlers at about every position on the defense.

That's the kind of challenge he relishes.

"Competing against these veterans and Pro Bowlers will be an uphill battle just trying to match their physical and mental game," the Aussie says, reminding me that it is the Super Bowl defense after all that shut down a previously impressive Carolina offense. "They're at a higher level and obviously know how to play ball. But competition brings out the best in everyone."

Whether it's the world champions bringing it out of the new guys, or the new guys pushing to bring out the best of the NFL's No. 1 defense, all of it will make the Broncos an even better team, Gotsis says.

"That's just the culture here. It's an awesome team to be part of."