Q: At what point last year feel things ‘click' for you?
Christian Ballard: I think it was the Michigan State game. Me and Jacody came in there and we were playing fast and hard and I had the feeling that I belonged here and that defensive end was the position for me.
Q: When you came here, folks thought you would be a tight end. When did you make up your mind to change to defensive end?
Ballard: During the summer. There is a lot more to learn at tight end, it's harder to catch balls. On defense, I have the body and the speed to play. I decided to switch over.
Q: Not a lot of freshmen can swallow their pride to do that.
Ballard: It's OK. There are a lot of people out there that were looking for me to play tight end, the coaches wanted me to, but I thought I could make an impact on the defensive line and I haven't looked back.
Q: You are going to be counted on this year, where last year guys like Mattison and Iwebema were the leaders. What are your goals this year?
Ballard: I want to be just like Mattison; he was a great leader and had perfect technique. I want to live up to and exceed his standards and hopefully I can do that.
Q: What did you see from some of the younger players this spring?
Ballard: There are a lot of great guys out there. Binns did a lot of great things this spring; he is really physical and has a body. We will need other guys to step up, because as you saw last year, you can't just play with four the entire season.Adrian Clayborn
Q: What progress have you made over the last year and a half?
Adrian Clayborn: I think I am more mature. I think I am getting to be more consistent as a player.
Q: At what point last year did things fall into place for you? Kirk said that in August, you didn't look like you belonged and then you stepped up.
Q: Each week I started to feel more confident. Once I finally got to get in against Michigan State, that is when it clicked.
Clayborn: What can you do this summer to improve?
Q: We need to watch film, watch what we did in the spring and pick out things that the coaches tell us. We all have to get better as individuals, and that will help the team.
Clayborn: What kind of a role will you play this year with Mattison and Iwebema gone?
Q: Just to step up and be a leader and teach these younger guys what to do now. I have to be more of a leader.
Clayborn: How did spring go overall for you? Was it different having your feet under you?
Q: It was a lot different than last year. I was hurt a bit last year, but I was there every day this year so that really helped me out. It was good.