Glenn Foster is a redshirt freshman defensive end out of Chicago Mt. Carmel High School. He benefitted from sitting out last year, watching seniors Derek Walker and Will Davis ply their trade. He talks about the difference from high school and what he learned from the sideline.
"When I redshirted, I learned that it's a fast game and that you've got to be ready to play. I learned that its not high school football, and you're rushing against big guys. I learned a lot about the fundamentals of football and the game.
"I also learned I don't like it on that sideline. And it built me up to become a better player, to be more aggressive and to be prepared to play this season."
Foster also took advantage of the offseason strength and conditioning work.
"Before we hit winter break I was 257, and before spring ball I hit 273. I'm trying to tone all that down and to get more muscle. When people look at me they can't see the 273."
He was surprised by the assistance provided by the upperclassmen.
"Before I came here, I thought that the older guys would be for themselves and for their own spot, but it's the total opposite. They're trying to help you become a better player.
"The whole time the whole line is strong. They're trying to make me work on my technique and make me into a better player. They want to see that. I trust my d-linemen and they trust me. We're brothers, and that's what I love about this d-line."
Foster has had to adjust to a new defensive line coach, but he is pleased with new coach Keith Gilmore.
"He's a good coach. He's connected with the defensive line even though he just got here. He's all about fundamentals and technique. If you're good enough to play you will.
"I trust him, and he's trying to build trust amongst the defensive line. He knows what he's doing, and the future of this d-line is great."
He sees similarities between Gilmore and former coach Tom Sims, but he does have a preference.
"Sims connected with his players, and Coach connects with his players. That's a big similarity. Coach (Gilmore) is a better coach, he's straightforward, and he's honest."
Improvements are necessary to earn playing time where competition is intense.
"The most important thing is working on getting my face into the tackles. I need to get more violent. I need to be more loose. At first, I was hesistant and not knowing what I was doing, but since I know the stuff I need to believe in myself and my team.
"I just need to keep my head in these books and get better. I feel that if you know what you're doing it'll make the game a lot easier."
Foster was well trained in high school. Legendary coach Frank Lenti Sr. has coached numerous all-stars, and Foster hopes to continue the trend of Mt. Carmel players who have become college standouts. He enjoys going back home for visits.
"I've been busy, but the last time I talked to him was the last I went to visit the school last November or December. Now, when the semester is over I'm heading back to the school. I love home. I just love making the visit. He loves seeing his players.
"He's done so much for us. He's done so much for me. He's put me in the great position I am now. Coach Lenti is family. He's a good man, an excellent man."
Nothing that has happened in Foster's young career has discouraged him from believing he can reach his goals.
"I play with tenacity and with confidence, believing in myself and my technique. I believe I can dominate in this game when I continue practicing and getting better. This college game is going to be fun."