Ben Barkema: It's been a good solid spring. I'm really satisfied. It's my spot to lose, because I am number one right now.
CN: You were kind of thrown into the fire last season as a redshirt freshman. Talk about that experience and how it made you better.
Barkema: Being put in the Baylor game – the first game I really got to play – was really difficult because I was nervous. In the Kansas game, I was mainly put on the backside of everything, since James Wright was in there. I was mainly in there as a second tight end. I got a little more comfortable against Nebraska. When I got to start the bowl game, it was just unbelievable. I felt like I could hold my own at points.
CN: With the creation of the H-Back position, as the number one tight end are you being asked to block more than catch?
Barkema: Actually, it's about the same as before. The H is really just another tight end in the game, and it hasn't changed that much. The H is in there instead of a fullback. I pretty much have the same responsibilities.
CN: You're kind of the veteran at tight end, with so much inexperience around you. What do you think about that role?
Barkema: People do kind of look up to me in the meetings. We're going over the stuff that I was taught all of last year, and he's always looking at me to be the one to step up and answer the questions. I've tried to help everybody out with what's going on.
CN: How have you improved over the offseason?
Barkema: I got stronger this past winter, and tried to work on my quickness since we are running more routes and getting the ball more.
CN: Are you getting excited about the Iowa game this season, and facing off against your brother C.J.?
Barkema: Definitely. He's going to be a senior and got switched to tight end this past spring. He had to take an eligible number and took my number, 41.
CN: How have your parents split up the traveling roles to watch your games?
Barkema: One goes to each game and tries to get some people to go with them. The Army game is looking to be a Friday night right now, so they're thinking about leaving Thursday right after school to go to my game. My brother plays at Ohio State on Saturday, so they're going to drive right back through for the Saturday game. They're certainly pushing for that Friday night game to see us both play. They will miss my Kansas game this year, because it's my brother's Senior Day.