It's easy to see that Deatrich Wise is one of the best players on the defense. That's not good enough for the senior defensive end.
"I want to be the best player on the field," he said.
There was emphasis in his voice on that "the" and there was some pride in that word.
Junior defensive end Karl Roesler sees that as he works to get on the field beside Wise in the absence of Tevin Beanum this spring.
"I think he is that guy," Roesler said. "What I see is a guy who may be the strongest guy on the team and he has great length. He uses that length to get on you and then he just tosses you aside."
There isn't a lot of tossing in Wise's daily matchup, offensive right tackle Dan Skipper. It's iron sharpening iron. Wise said there are plays where one wins or the other.
"Everything he does to me, everything I do to him, that's building each other up," Wise said. "That's how you make a team. That's how you get better."
Wise was among the first to the interview room after Thursday's practice as the Hogs prepare for a Saturday scrimmage. It won't be as long as last week's, but it might be the final heavy work before the spring game, Saturday April 23. Wise said it's another chance to work on the fine points for the defense.
"We are doing well," he said. "We are getting better. It's been a good spring.
"I've tried to get the fine points down for me. I know everyone thinks I'm pretty good as a pass rusher, but I'm trying to become just as good against the run this spring. You want to be that complete player. That's been my goal this spring, be the whole package.
"I have watched myself on video. I see the small things that I can improve. I did do some of that in the second half of last season. It's focus on details. That's how you get better. I have corrected some things I was doing wrong and that pays off. You are always trying to get better and that's the goal in the scrimmage."
The defensive front might be closer to that this spring with some subtle position switches inside. Taiwan Johnson has moved from weakside tackle to nose tackle. Jeremiah Ledbetter has moved inside to weakside tackle from end. It's an attempt to create the same mismatches at tackle that were solid for the Hogs two years ago with Darius Philon.
"Led, he's like Philon," Wise said. "It's quickness and ability. I think you see him do some of the same things Philon could do as far as strength, too."
Wise is stepped forward as a defensive leader. He said it was in that role that he took McTelvin "Sosa" Agim aside after last week's scuffle with Skipper.
"I just told him that something like that can't happen in a game," Wise said. "He's a young guy and stuff happens in the heat of the moment. Those things happen. I just said don't do it in a game."
The leadership role has come about naturally. He said it's just age.
"My time," he said. "It's just my time. I do some of the things I saw Trey Flowers do when I was younger. You know when it's time."
Roesler said mostly it's just younger players following a veteran.
"He doesn't need to yell at us," Roesler said. "It's not telling us, but showing us. That's how he does it, by example. I think there might be a time or two where he didn't see something he liked and let someone know. But mostly it's just an older player doing it right.
"Deatrich is impressive. He is the best guy out there. He's been a great player for us this spring."