Q&A with Jaxon Hood
(on the talk about him coming into camp out of shape) “The challenge is getting back in shape, but I’ve made strides. I’ve already lost 11 pounds; I’m not really worried about anyone’s accusations or anything like that. I’m just here to football with my teammates and help us win a championship.” (on how much his teammates’ support has helped) “Yeah definitely, when I was gone I thought about everybody every day. I wanted to be here, but I had to take care of my business and it’s great to be back. It was a great motivation and it kept me sane knowing I would come back to my team. I kept in touch with my teammates and my coaches.” (on the defensive line’s performance and its inexperience) “You know we’re not even worried about all this talk. We know what we are as a group. I’m ready to lead the group and take charge. The torch has been passed to me and I’m ready to run with it.” (on his current conditioning as the season opener approaches) “When the lights come on, I’ll be ready.” (on how long he was away from the team and the reason for that absence) “I think 26 days. It was a personal issue and I’ll keep it at that.” (on difficulty of being away from the team) “I just love my teammates. We’re all so close as a unit. I think this is the closest we’ve ever been as a team and we would really give a leg for each other so it’s really difficult not seeing everybody every day and I missed my coaches as well.” (on the chances of his absence being permanent) “Oh no never. That was never in the picture.” (on appreciation of getting back to practice) “Oh yeah, you won’t hear any complaints from me this season about practice or anything. It’s like ‘Oh camp’s hard on your body and blah, blah, blah,’ so it’s like no man I’m hungrier than ever, I’m starving, so let’s go.” (on whether the 2013 season was a humbling experience) “Yeah definitely. You know I battled with that torn hamstring and (Davon) Coleman came in for me and shined. I got cleared; I was playing on a leg and a half. It’s rough; it’s just part of football, injuries and stuff. If you ask me, I was probably primed for a pretty big season. I mean, you guys saw my play against Wisconsin and everything so it wasn’t a matter of me losing my job, it was a matter of me getting hurt.” (on whether his experience has helped his return to the team) “Oh yeah definitely. I came in first day, round as a house, still quick feet, flat back, so it makes it a lot easier, yeah. Just being in my third year and just having that veteran sense has made things a lot easier.” (on ASU’s defensive line freshman) “Smallwood, he reminds me of me when I was a freshman. He’s a little ball of fury, little athlete. I’m excited to play next to all those guys. As a group, watch out for those guys in a few years. That’ll be the best unit in the conference, maybe in the nation.” (on his leadership role) “It just comes with the number of days in the program. That’s what’s been preparing me. Just going through three offseason, two spring balls, that’s what gets you ready to be a leader. Just playing under guys like (Will) Sutton, Chris Young and those types of leaders, I had my mental notepad down and I knew it was going to be my turn and I’d be ready to go.” (on his stamina, strength) “When the lights come on, I’ll be ready. I’ve already lost 11 pounds since Thursday so that’ll be real smooth. By the time kickoff comes, I should be about 285. After Don and Charlie’s maybe 290.” (on relationship with Graham) “Coach Graham means everything to me. He’s the father I never had. I look up to him; I believe everything he says, good and bad. He’s an awesome leader. He has so much ambition and passion, and when I’m 50 years old, that’s who I want to be. Coach Graham, I can’t say enough good things about him. I’m just blessed to have him as a coach. He’s the real deal.” (on his increased reps on the first team ever since coming back) “That’s where I expected to be. I didn’t expect to come back and be at the bottom of the depth chart. I know who I am and I know I’ll be right back up there where I belong.” (on positives of being a local) “Yeah definitely. I got my mom, my grandparents, my brothers, my high school coaches at Hamilton calling me and encouraging me, keeping me strong. So for any hometown kids that are thinking about leaving, I would definitely advise them to stay. There are so many props to it. I mean, you get a billboard; what else do you want?” (on the defensive line) “We’re really, really fast up front. We’ve got a lot of raw ability, obviously there’s inexperience, but me and Hardison and Mo, we’re leading the group, and the young guys are coming along fast.” (on defensive drop off) “The talent is still there and it’s not always just about talent. It’s about the system we’re playing. The system puts our players in the best position to make plays and everyone is an athlete and everyone is fast and can get off the ball so of course, guys like Sutton, Bradford, Coleman and Chris Young; those were some phenomenal football players. Those are some of the best athletes I’ve ever played with, but no it’s not a drop-off, it’s a new beginning, that’s what it is." Note: Adam Stites contributed to this article
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