"I am real excited," Derozan says about the upcoming season. "You know, for the past two years there has been something hindering me from showing the talents that I do have and now hopefully I can stay healthy and by the time two-a-days ends everybody will know Kyle Derozan."
The redshirt sophomore first injured his shoulder in the first week of two-a-days in 2002 prior to redshirting. Then, in 2003 Derozan played in nine games as a defensive end, but was bothered with a shoulder problem throughout the season. Finally, after the season Derozan went under the knife to try and correct the problem for good.
"Well right now I am about 95-100 percent," he says about his rehab. "My shoulder is doing great and I am back doing everything--lifting with my teammates and I feel pretty good. I tore two ligaments and had a chipped bone in it, so Doc had to cut me open and after than he sewed me back up and I am back getting after it."
Through his two injury-filled years, the redshirt sophomore says that one person has always been there to help keep him grounded and help keep things in perspective. "It can be real frustrating sometimes, but my dad keeps me going from day-to-day." Derozan says. "He just tells me to give it to God and let Him deal with it and let Him work it out so that is basically what I keep doing everyday. I am constantly talking to him and constantly talking to God."
Kyle Derozan (left) listens to advice last season at practice from Reggie Torbor (82), who has moved on to pro football.
The surgery forced Derozan to sit out of contact work during spring practice, which took away a lot of key practice time he would have received at his new position. However, he notes that the lack of time on the field really forced him to tune in mentally into the tight end position.
"Well, it was tough because I wanted to be out there, but I couldn't because of my injury," he explains. "But, during the spring I got to learn a lot and I think that is what helped me out, that I was able to learn, but not actually do it. But, I learned more and I grabbed hold of the offense and what we are planning on doing this year."
Now that he is back in the full swing of things physically, Derozan says that he is using every minute of the day during the summer to get himself ready for the fall. "Well at 5:30 every morning I get up to come work out with Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) to try and get bigger, faster and stronger," the 6-3, 252-pounder notes. "Then, I go to class and come back. Then, on Tuesday and Thursday we have our defensive and offensive teams get together and do a little seven-on-seven and things like that. Just working on getting better at my position, that is basically my day."
Derozan adds that he wants to gain a few more pounds and also reclaim the speed he says he had before surgery. "Right now I am 248 to 252 on a daily average, but hopefully by August I will be about 260," he tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "Also, I have lost a couple of steps, but I think I will gain it back real quick and I have been working on getting it back."
Following those summer workouts, Derozan will finally get to see his first action on offense during two-a-days and he says some of his old defensive line buddies may be more excited about that than he is.
"I really don't dislike anything about the position, but I think I have made a few enemies in a couple of my former defensive ends," Derozan says with a smile. "Guys like Bret Eddins, Stanley McClover, Marquies Gunn and those guys, they are giving me a little trouble talking about when two-a-days comes it's on. 'I was like, OK man.' Besides that though, I like it. The offense is great. I love the offense and I am just ready to compete."
Speaking of those linemen, Derozan says that he believes the Tigers' defensive line will step up and even perhaps be a strength for the 2004 defense. "There are some questions, but I have got a lot of faith in my teammates like Jay Ratliff, with him moving to tackle," the former defensive end notes. "Josh Thompson, who got redshirted last year, I am looking forward to him and T.J. Jackson.
"Those guys are real strong in the weight room and they have got great athletic ability and I am looking forward to those guys coming around and doing big things," Derozan adds. "I think a lot of people are going to underestimate them, but they are going to shock some people."
He also notes that in his opinion McClover will easily live up to his preseason expectations. "Yeah, he is good," Derozan says. "He's great. He is quick. He is faster than I thought he was. He actually beat me in the 40 so he is pretty quick. He is going to give some offensive tackles some trouble--a lot of trouble."
On the offensive side of the ball, Derozan says that he has been impressed with the scheme that Tigers' offensive coordinator Al Borges is planning on running this season. "I really can't imagine the things we are trying to do this year and the things we are going to do this year, but I am real excited," he notes. "Coach Borges is a great coach and he is a real smart guy.
"I think with Coach Borges and Coach (defensive coordinator Gene) Chizik it is going to be tough for a lot of teams to beat us," he adds. "With Coach Borges, it is like he knows what the defense is going to do in certain situations so he has a particular play to get us out of that situation and with Coach Chizik his scheme is so great the offense doesn't know what he is doing at any time during the game. So, it is going to be real exciting."
Speaking of exciting, with fall just around the corner, the sophomore says that he is running on all cylinders and can't wait for the season to finally arrive. "I am excited about two-a-days," Derozan says. "I am excited about the first game. I am just real excited because we play--this year I am real excited to have LSU come down here. We kind of owe them from last year. They kind of gave it to us last year so we are on a mission this year. We might be underestimated a lot this year and we are going to surprise a lot of teams."