Earning freshman All-American honors has everyone looking at sophomore Jerel Worthy. The Ohio native made an impact last season and Gill knows he expects more from the star defensive tackle and his running mates.
"I think what Jerel Worthy has done for us is he is learning football now. Last year I was beating my head at times as he would do the things we would ask him to do, but then he would sneak back and do the things he did in high school. At times I feel this helps in development because a player gets to see at times that doing it my way could work a little better for them. But I feel Jerel brings a good game to the table. He is starting to understand the game and what is expected of him in our structure. I can start to see the maturity in him in so many ways. I look for Jerel to move up and have just a real big year this year."
"It has really been funny and we were just talking about this the other day. Seven years ago we had him in camp and we knew he was going to be something. But we were not sure what direction he was going to go. He's grown to be a defensive lineman, but we all felt he was going to be a linebacker back then. The biggest thing about Blake is his work ethic and the fact he understands that doing the little things will make him play better. I also think the fact he has been around me for the past seven years has allowed him to see all the guys that have come through and play for us that have done very well, so I think that has been a really big part of his development."
Over the course of the past several years, the Spartans defense has used several guys who were undersized defensive linemen. Now, with a couple of taller guys, does the way he coaches have to change?
"I think the difference in coaching them differently is that they (taller guys) have to grow into their body. With them it's all about body control. They may have to be in a finesse situation one week, and then a power situation the next week. I think if you get them ready to play those type of games and make sure they know how the Big Ten is, and all the different things they are going to see, it will make them a lot better player."
One theme of all the Spartan coaches has been the quality of depth now on the roster. Does the defensive line also have this depth?
"We really have seen a great spike in talent. We now have guys like Corey Freeman who is a very good athlete. Johnathan Strayhorn is more of a shorter guy but very powerful. We have Tyler Hoover who is taller and who can get his hands up and rush the passer. Colin Neely is a very smart guy and like having a general on the field. Denzel Drone is still learning the game but is a great athlete. The other guy who has really stepped forward is Tood Anderson. Todd has grown as he has been around me three years now and has really learned this defense. Then we have the two new guys Marcus Rush and Taylor Calero. The reason they were recruited here was because they have great motors. With the motors and abilities these guys have I feel they will be big time players here in the coming years."