Last year, you were the inexperienced group, the defensive line as a whole. This year, it's the linebackers. Are you guys going to try to help them out?
Yeah, I mean it all starts up front, in my opinion, on both sides of the ball. As long as we hold our ground and help out the defense, we can have a strong defense this year.
Can you talk about how you guys push each other? Alex said you guys are pretty competitive in the weight room and everything. How does that help?
We're all pretty competitive guys, like Alex said. If one of us stumbles along the way, we all give him a little grief about it. But yeah, the thing is we're all universal. If one guy gets hurt, another guy gets thrown in who's just as competitive, just as good. You've got to keep working and keep pushing or you're not going to be the guy out there on Saturdays.
Alex said you're one of the guys that keeps everybody loose. He said the longer your hair gets, the goofier you get.
(Laughs) Around here, it's pretty uptight. So, I've go to loosen people up. Yeah, he's right.
Compare how you feel now to how you felt last year? Alex said it's just like night and day.
To a certain extent you can say that. But last year at this time, I was nervous just like I am this year. Like I said earlier, last year I was fighting for a starting spot, and this year I'm fighting to keep it. It's all hard work. It's still the same, but to say the least, you know what's coming. Last year, I had no idea what it was going to be like running out of the tunnel. This year, I have a little bit of taste in my mouth.
Three of your four starters on the defensive line are former running backs in high school. Do you guys ever talk about that?
I talk about it all of the time. I say, "You can give me the ball all of the time." That was back them. Now a days, at 275 I ain't running anywhere like that.
Does being a former running back help you with footwork and balance?
It doesn't hurt. I assume so. I'm not a sumo wrestler trying to come in here. I don't see him being that athletic.
What was your weight when you came in here?
My freshman year? I believe it was around 235, somewhere. I've put on a little weight.
Was it a gradual thing with you or did you hit a spurt?
My first year I stayed at linebacker so I stayed at 235, 240 all year. My first spring here, I switched to D-line. I just kind of gradually gained 30 or 40 pounds from there.
I think some of the fans consider you guys a given considering how you finished last season. How do you keep the attention from going to your heads and keep motivated?
Coach kind of keeps us grounded in that respect. Like he always says, it's just a prediction. We haven't played anybody, you know? It's very true. Last year, we had great linebackers and great leadership on both sides of the ball. From the D-line perspective, we're trying to take over that role and take over some of that leadership role. We're not really paying attention to anything outside of these fences. This is kind of our home for the next couple of months. So, we're just trying to stick our nose in there and go ahead.
How have you guys as a defensive line dealt with what's going on with Kenny?
I don't really know too much about it. I have no idea what's going on with that. I just know he's not here right now. I hope he just comes back soon.
Have you guys just left it unsaid? It's obviously a big component missing from your unit.
But we have a lot of people to step in. Like I said, there's a lot of competition. Hopefully he comes back. Yeah, it's pretty much unsaid, to answer your question.