"I think it shows a lot about our team. Coach Shannon emphasized fighting and guys not quitting and never giving up. He's been putting it into our heads since last year. Now I think it's coming around and guys are starting to believe in Coach Shannon and believe in the team. As you can see throughout the whole game, you see more on the sidelines and more on the field of play. Guys are teaching each other on the sidelines and stuff like that. We're just growing as a team completely."
How does it feel to be back for what people are calling the return of Thunder and Lightning?
"It feels pretty good being able to be out there and help my teammates as much as I can. It's a lot different watching on the sidelines. You learn a lot of things and you realize how much you want to be out there. Since my injury, I realized how much my teammates need me. Hopefully from here on out I can have a healthy year."
With you back and Graig Cooper rested off the bye week, how important is the running game going into the final three games of the season?
"It's definitely important especially coming into a game like this. These guys have a very aggressive defense. We don't want to put too much pressure on our young quarterbacks. They've been doing pretty good so far. If we can get the running game going it's going to help those guys out a lot."
Last year, the Hokies held Miami to -2 yards rushing and held you personally to 7 rushing yards. What was that experience like?
"We definitely have been talking about it. That's one thing tech has always been known for, stopping the run. The running backs and the offensive line have watched extra film this week and put a little more pride in our work and we're going to try to show the nation that we can run the ball on these guys."
After three years at Miami you've heard the term "Beamer Ball" a lot. What does that mean to you?
"It doesn't mean that much. I know that those guys are going to come out and play hard. Dedrick Epps is from up there in Virginia and he always tells us how important Beamer Ball is up there. One of our strength coaches went to V-Tech so he knows too. Those guys, just like us, we take pride in playing for our coach. Both teams are going to come out on Thursday and play as hard as they can."
How does it feel to be playing Thursday night knowing that you're the only nationally televised game?
"It's the prime time game. It's like the college football version of Monday Night Football in the NFL. You get a chance to have the rest of the guys around the nation see what you got. Especially playing a good opponent, I know there's going to be a lot of people at the game and a lot of people around the nation watching. It gives us a chance to showcase our talent."
How special is it for you to be playing in a game where your cousin Edgerrin is being inducted in the UM Ring of Honor?
"Most definitely. My auntie and a lot of people from my family are going to be in the stands. It's an honor for him and an honor for me to be on the team and get a chance to see him go up there. Now every time I'll be in the stadium I'll be looking up and seeing him. Hopefully one day I can get myself up there."
Do you think it will motivate you more having Edgerrin in the Ring of Honor?
"I think since I got here that's always been my motivation to try to come out and outdo my cousin. He did a lot of great things here. He's the youngest guy to go up in the Ring of Honor. I'm just following in his footsteps. I feel like it's a privilege. It's only right to try to showcase as much talent as I can on the night that he's getting honored."
It's the last home game of the season. Does that add any special meaning to the game?
"Most definitely because it's the last game for the seniors. These are guys who I've been with for the last three years. I know these guys real good. A lot of these guys are my real close friends. We definitely wan tot send these guys out with a bang. They're going to always remember this last game for the rest of their lives. Just to be a part of it is special. I want to make sure that me and the rest of the young guys do everything we can to let them leave with a victory."
You've had ten days to prepare for this game. That's a long time between games. How ready will this team be on Thursday night?
"During our bye week we really didn't prepare for V-Tech. We just practiced our fundamentals and working on the little things that are emphasized around here. Working on our techniques and guys are making they get on the right guys. This week is when we started preparing for V-Tech. We started yesterday like it was a Tuesday practice, today will be like a Wednesday practice and treat tomorrow like a Thursday. It's the same preparation. We had extra days but we really didn't go over V-Tech too much during the bye week."
How ready and excited are you personally for Thursday's game?
"I can't wait. It's a prime time game. If you can't get ready for a game like this playing against one of the best defenses in the country then you really don't need to be playing football."
Does the combination of this being a nationally televised game, Edgerrin going up in the Ring of Honor and the team still in the hunt for a berth in the ACC Championship Game make this game even more important than the others?
"I would say this game means a lot not just to me but to everybody. This is a big game for us as a team. I really can't control anything that happened in the past. We're just excited overall as a team."
Like every recruit, you came here wanting to play for titles and play in big bowl games. It did not work out that way your first two years. How nice is it to know that Miami is getting on the right track?
"It's definitely the reason you come to the University of Miami and that's to play for championships. The first two years weren't playing out like any of us thought but that's part of the game. Now we get a chance to live that dream. We're definitely going to play a lot harder. Guys are going to bring their "A" game in whatever role they have. They're going to make sure they give maximum effort."
Do you guys still have hope as far as ACC Championship aspirations?
"We're going to take it one game at a time. In order for us to get where we want to go we've got to start with this victory first. We've been doing good so far but we can't let up. We can't be happy right now. We've got to still be hungry. We've got to treat this game like we did the last four and go out and try to play with the best effort we can."
The last two years the team slumped at the end of the season but this year you're on a four-game winning streak. What's the difference between then and now?
"I think it's the way we practice. We kind of start off fast in practice and go through some scout stuff. In the middle and the end we always finish off going offense against defense. We go the best out of twelve. Nobody likes to have a tie so we go at it hard every day. I think that's just how our season has been going so far."
With the twelve days off before this game, how great were these extra days for you to get healed up and ready to go?
"It couldn't come at a better time. I feel a whole lot better than how I felt at the beginning of the week. I'm just glad that we had bye weeks especially at a time like this. A lot of guys have a lot of nicks and a lot of injuries. It gives us a chance as a team for us to be a little healthier than what we were."
What's this first season at Dolphin Stadium been like for you guys? Do you feel like you have a home field advantage at the new stadium?
"Yes. Our locker room is excellent. We can't talk much about the locker room. We love that. The fans come out and make us feel like we're at home again. As the season has gone on there's been more and more fans coming out. We're expecting to have a nice crowd on Thursday. It's a night game and we always play good at night. It's a great opportunity for us and for the young guys. They can showcase all their talent. A lot of people have been hearing about how good our young guys are but really haven't had the chance to see them especially those on the west coast. We've got a couple of guys from California. Now their parents and friends back home get to see them play. I think it's a great opportunity for us."
Do you feel Dolphin Stadium is as loud as the Orange Bowl was?
"Really you can't compare it to the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl sits on a pedestal for itself. Dolphin Stadium is great. With us being able to see the replays on the JumboTron has been helping us a lot. Guys are looking at the plays they made. The locker room is great. They have a great field. It's a top of the line stadium. From what I hear from my family, the stands are a lot better. People have a lot more room and stuff."
Do you think it has had any effect on the recruits when they visit for games?
"I know if I was a recruit and I got a chance to go to Dolphin Stadium that'd be the opportunity of a lifetime. I know those guys would be amazed by what they see."
Is there one thing you miss about the Orange Bowl?
"Just playing there. All the things that went on and all the memories. All the great games and all the great players that have gone in and out of that stadium. That's something you can't replace but a lot of great players have played at Dolphin Stadium too."