"Everything is coming along pretty well, defense is what I really want to do, so now I just have to work hard at it and take it day by day," Hester said.
Last season Devin Hester was thrown into the defensive mix in the middle of the season. He was a quick study however, able to snatch four interceptions on the year while playing just 30 percent of the defensive snaps.
This season, Hester wants to learn the defensive scheme in and out.
"I am going to take my playbook home with me," Hester said. "Every night before I go to bed, just look at it for 30 minutes. Probably every now and then I will get out here early in the morning and run some sprints to get that out of the way."
Not only is Hester taking notes from his playbook, he regularly talks to the greatest to play the position—former Florida State star Deion Sanders.
"He came to me and said it really does not matter what school you go to," Hester said. "If he sees potential in somebody, he really wants to help no matter what school they come from. It is not about the school, it is about the player."
Since first coming in contact with Sanders after last season's NC State game, Hester has built a relationship with his childhood idol in which the two talk three times a week.
"He tells me to just keep my head up and not let the outside influences hurt what you got going on in the field," Hester said. "He just talks me through life. The things he experienced in college and things I should and should not do.
"It is like a brotherhood type of conversation. We just talk and see how each other's day went, what is going on, and if either of us has any problems. We mainly talk about how life is going."
Hester finally met Sanders in person about a month ago while the Hurricanes were going through their 7-on-7 drills. Sanders has returned to UM as recently as last Friday to catch up with Hester.
"Anytime I ask him for advice, he answers them, so why not just keep asking?" Hester says.
Last season was a breakout year for Hester, so who does he think will be the breakout player of 2005?
"I am leaning towards Darnell Jenkins," Hester said. "This year I think he can really break out. I see it in practice, the way he improved from last year, he is just on a whole other level. I think he is going to break out."
Though Hester is expected to take over the starting cornerback position vacated by Antrel Role, he still has a lot to learn.
"I am just really getting comfortable and starting to show my ability now. I am real comfortable on defense now. I'm going to know the defense down pat by the time the first game rolls along."
In Thursday's practice, Hester suffered hip pointer problems, but said, "It is just a little nagging injury, I'll get over it."
Hester is currently at 188 pounds and hopes to get to about 192-193 at the start of the season.
Hester Learning CB Position
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