Fawley Takes Nothing For Granted

It's a given that all first year players are the hungriest group on the field during spring practice. Whether you're coming off a redshirt year or a JC transfer, you're likely to have just a little more bounce in your step than the upperclassmen on the team. One exception to that theory is junior Matt Fawley, who spoke exclusively to DevilsDigest.

Junior Matt Fawley was suspended all of last season (which counts as a redshirt year in terms of eligibility) due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. Naturally, he's more than happy, yet alone motivated, to be past serving his suspension and practicing this spring. "We're all really hungry this year," he said. "You don't get to play this sport that long, and it's not something like basketball where you just pick it up and do it. Obviously, I'm very excited to come out here and play, and so far so good."

The lesson the linebacker learned form last year is quite simple. "You can't take anything for granted," he stated. "What's here today might be gone tomorrow. I know it's sounds hunky dory (smile) but it really is true. You have to take advantage of what you have, when you have it. I definitely have more appreciation for the game now than I did before."

Even though he didn't play even one down in 2004, the 6-1 227 Fawley started spring at the ‘Will' linebacker position, which is different not only by name but also by alignment from the ‘Devil' backer he was slated to start at last season. He's one of the more seasoned players on defense, playing 20 games in his first two seasons, and starting in eight of them. During that period he was highly productive, as he collected 112 tackles – 8.5 of them for a loss.

Fawley isn't only pleased with his progression at spring practice, but also with the prospects of the new defensive scheme taught by coordinator Bill Miller. "It's going pretty good," said Fawley. "I'm working on trying to learn my keys and reading the backs. I haven't played linebacker since junior high…I want to be a more physical player in general."

"We're gonna do a lot of good things with this new defense," Fawley continued. "It's more complex than last year but I think it will help us out. Jamar (Williams) and Dale (Robinson) are doing great. Coach Miller coached some of the best linebackers around, so we're gonna do a lot of good stuff this year. Last year we ran just the 4-3 and cover 4. This year we'll have a lot of different sets and coverages. It will be a lot harder for the offense to key on one specific thing."

But for Fawley, it's probably easier than ever to focus on the second chance given and making sure that he takes full advantage of it.

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