TDD: Coming off a successful first season, what were some of the lessons you had to learn on the fly in 2008?
Jay Hollingsworth: You have to work hard at a different level than in high school and everything is more intense. You have to watch and study film. You have to know the playbook inside and out. Everything is just more intense and demanding and everyone you're playing with and against is much more athletic than you saw at the high school level, and just as committed to improving as you are.
It seems as though, aside from school, football is almost like a job at the college level.
Definitely. And that's how we look at it here. This is our job, but it's one we love. That kind of atmosphere pushes us all to be better.
On the field, what was the biggest adjustment between high school ball and college?
You really have to put in work to get stronger and you have to know the playbook down to the fine print. You need to know where the holes are going to be, but you also need to be just as good in picking up pass protection. That's a really big thing at this level. You also put in a lot more time scouting the opposition and watching their film and your film - trying to find little things you can do better or use.
So with an off-season of putting that kind of work in, what can we expect to see from the team this year?
That's a pretty cut and dry answer.
We're going to be better all around. More disciplined. Better executing. We're going to be better on both side sides of the ball and in the kicking game. Plus, all around, we're in a lot better shape than we were. Probably the best shape the team's ever been in.
On that note, the conditioning emphasis is well documented among the fan base. Any colorful stories or memories you could share with us?
At times it can be really, really hard. We are constantly looking to improve in that area. We're starting to add more reps to our regular off-season workout routine right now. But, there's a saying that the best way to be in shape is to stay in shape.
Individually, what will be different about you this season?
I've been working hard and am looking to continue it. I am staying in our playbook and watching film. Overall, I'm just trying to be me and to play my game. I've gotten faster this offseason and my knowledge of the game and the offense is a lot better than it was a year ago.
You say you want to just "be you". Give us a scouting report on Jay Hollingsworth.
A hard-nosed running back who runs north to south. Someone who hits the holes hard and runs between the tackles with pads squared up, but can also throw some speed in there to break a play.
As one of the younger players in a big role for the team, do you see your class as a signal that the program is undergoing a changing of the guard?
Definitely. We have a big responsibility because we are Coach Cut's first class. We have to set the bar high for the groups that come behind us.
Earlier you listed some of the lessons you learned from the older players. So, what are you passing on to the younger players who are coming to school now?
We talk to them all the time. They have to learn fast that this game is for real here. You have to remind them that they aren't in high school any more. You are always working to make yourself better. Being here is a privaledge and we're all competing for time. From the freshmen to the fifth year seniors.
Speaking of that, just who is going to win the starting running back job in 2009?
Well, of course I'm going to say myself. But if someone beats me out, I'm still going to do my part and make myself and the team better.
How does that dynamic work? With so much competition, isn't there some animosity?
We're all competitors and we're all here for one another. We're always pushing each other, but also holding each other up. We're here for one another. The twos are always working harder to push the ones. The ones are working harder to set the bar higher, which makes the twos have to work even harder to push the ones. It's a chain, and it works well for us.
Switching gears, take us through a rough weekly schedule for you guys this summer.
We are lifting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We get to the building and do an agility warm-up then lift. On Tuesday and Thursday we do our running and overall conditioning. Each day we have classes, study hall, and academic support. It's all organized and structured through the football program.