One of those players is safety-turned-linebacker Marquis Flowers. He made the position switch late in fall camp and stayed there the entire season, starting all thirteen games. The senior believes that after a year of adjusting, he is a better player.
"It feels a little better this year now that I have had a whole year of linebacker," Flowers said. "I worked all summer at the linebacker position, whether it is strong side or weak side. I gained a little bit of weight and built up my upper body strength.
"I have been working all summer and it feels good to come in at linebacker."
Flowers also believes that the defense as a whole has grown during the offseason. He understands that the team needed to improve after last season and has worked hard to get better.
"I think we can wait until the season starts to judge whether or not the defense is better," he said. "The first few days have been good. Being last in just about every category last season wasn't something that we liked, so this whole offseason we worked hard and added some depth. Even in the spring we worked hard."
Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was disappointed in the first days of fall camp, but his senior linebacker knows that the coach is only helping the players.
"Coach Rich Rod is a very intense coach," Flowers said. "He expects perfection. He's going to get us to play our best. He is going to get on us for our mistakes and help us fix them. It's up to us to come out the next day and try to correct them."
With summer drills completed and camp finally underway, the defensive leader has had time to get a feel for the talent level surrounding him in the linebacker corps.
"I think we have a tremendous group of linebackers," he said. "All the young guys look good. I think they are going to contribute right away. They are very good players and teammates.
"It's like the coaches say, they are ‘Our Kinda Guys'. They are going to come in and step in and get some good experience under their belt."
Summer workouts are one of the biggest factors for success early in the fall camp. Flowers helped organize some defensive drills during the summer and believes that they were successful.
"We had to make sure that everyone was here for every workout," he said. "Obviously the workouts are voluntary, but as players, you have to get on your guys to come. Jake Fischer and I did a really good job of getting guys to come to workouts. We were calling everyone and making sure they were there.
"Especially our linebacker guys. We were all here this summer and we were out here setting up drills and doing our own workouts in addition to other stuff. Everyone has really bought in and we are ready to work."
The players have something to prove this season after finishing at the bottom of the Pac-12 in defense. Flowers used that as motivation to help his team improve.
"There were a lot of guys who came out and worked hard," Flowers said. "Everyone was working hard and no one really stood out. We were always fifteen minutes early and staying late to keep working on more things.
"We just want to be better. We are tired of being last. It's embarrassing to us and embarrassing to this program. We know that we are better than that."