Kenny Demens: "It flew by. You know, when I was a freshman, guys like Brandon Harrison, Terrance Taylor, you know, those guys kept telling us, ‘Hey, cherish it, it's going to go by fast.' And when you're a freshman, you're like, ‘Whatever, I still have four more years,' or whatever. You don't think about it. But, you know, it's quick. It goes by real fast."
Sam Webb: So talk to me about the difference – not only from then until now, but even from last year until now – what's the difference in Kenny Demens?
Kenny Demens: "I would say probably my leadership role. I would say that over the last eight months I've probably grown more as a player than I did in the past four years. You know, just like the leadership meetings with Coach Hoke, and Coach Wellman, and the trip out to California, it really did a lot. I find myself just naturally just caring about everybody else, and not putting myself first."
Sam Webb: I know Coach Hoke challenged the entire senior class, but do you feel like maybe he challenged you – or Coach Mattison challenged you – individually as well?
Kenny Demens: "Oh yeah, you know, being a MIKE linebacker you have to, like, be vocal. You can't be a quiet MIKE linebacker. That's a given. And, you know, if there are any communication problems, it's on the MIKE linebacker, and that right there is – it's personal, but at the same time, I find myself doing it for the better of the defense."
Sam Webb: Last year you had three seniors up front on that defensive line. They kind of keyed things for you guys. Now there's a lot of turnover up there. Do you feel like you as the middle linebacker, as the quarterback of the defense that maybe now it falls on you and your unit?
Kenny Demens: "Well I feel like…most definitely. You know, we had the seniors upfront, and they helped out a lot, you know? They were smart players. And this year's group – Craig Roh, William Campbell – they help out a lot too. So it's like having those guys back, but just different faces."
Sam Webb: Talk to me about your linebacking corps. Clearly, you have some returning guys, but at the same time, you have an influx of young talent there as well. So talk to me about the mix, you know, the different players at the different linebacker positions.
Kenny Demens: "I'm excited about our linebacker corps. They come out here and work hard every day; we compete; we hit. We're just ready. The young guys, they're physical. I like them. In a few years, I can see them being really great players. And the guys coming back, I've been here with them a few years, and they're ready to compete also. "
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Jake Ryan. Clearly, he came on like gangbusters last year. Now, he's on the cover of magazines and what not. Talk to me about his progress. How much better can he be?
Kenny Demens: "I like Jake Ryan, and one thing about his success is he's very coachable. You know, he might mess up a few times, but he's really coachable. After doing something, he fixes it quick, and I like that about Jake. He's going to work hard for you, and I'm glad he's on our team."
Sam Webb: Desmond Morgan came on. You know, it's tough as a young guy to play, but he got thrust in the role and never let go. So talk about what you saw from him last year, and what's the difference in Desmond Morgan so far?
Kenny Demens: "I thought right off the bat Desmond came in and proved his toughness as a Michigan linebacker. He came in and he learned quick. He's a quick learner. I feel like that was part of his success, you know? He didn't play like a freshman. He played above those standards. He played like he's been here before, and I like that about him. And this year, even more so. He's up there, you know? We have high expectations for ourselves, and he stands up there."
Sam Webb: Now you said kind of the same thing about Joe Bolden being a quick learner. Do you see some similarities between him and what you saw from Desmond last year?
Kenny Demens: "Yeah, I do, most definitely. Joe Bolden, you know, he's asking questions. He's physical, he plays downhill, he plays the pass really well. You know, I just – we have a real bright future for these young guys."
Sam Webb: Now, clearly, like I said, you have some young freshman in there. Maybe you don't know all of them yet, but you know the in-state guys. You know James Ross, you know Roy, so I mean, even if it's just about those guys, what have you seen from the guys you know thus far? What do they look like?
Kenny Demens: "They play fast. They want to make plays. You know, if you want to wait, watch out for them. They might hit you hard, and I like them, I like them a lot. I just can't wait to see what they can do when they're not out there thinking hesitant. I want to just see them on the go, know what they're doing. I just can't wait to see those guys."
Sam Webb: Now it's funny you said ‘get out of the way', because Coach J, Coach Hoke, they both said when Thomas Rawls comes through the hole, people better get out of the way, so is that – what about if Kenny Demens is meeting him in the hole? What about Thomas Rawls? What have you seen from him?
Kenny Demens: "I like Thomas Rawls. I love Thomas Rawls as a runningback. You know, like I said, it's friendly competition. If he's coming through the hole, I'm going to give him my everything. I'm going for the down, and I know he will too."
Sam Webb: Talk to me about those running backs. I mean, clearly, all those guys are tough; we've heard that from all the coaches, but they bring different skill sets to the table. You see them maybe from the best perspective of anyone. Talk to me about Thomas Rawls versus Justice Hayes, and then of course, Vincent Smith.
Kenny Demens: "Hayes is more of a scat back. You have to watch – you have to be on your toes, you know? When he's in space, it just feels right. Don't, you know – take the right angles. When it's Rawls, you better come downhill like a man. When it's VA, VA probably has the biggest heart on the team. You never know what to expect from Vincent Smith. He might run you over; you might underestimate him; but he comes with a long of punch, and he has some shake to him. I like the running back corps."
Sam Webb: I know we talked about collective goals for the team. I know you guys want to win the Big Ten, but individually, what would be a good year for Kenny Demens this year?
"I would say probably do better than I did last year. Get the younger guys rolling, as far as the linebacker corps goes. Make sure the guy behind me can step up and play like a starter. Just whatever I can to help the guys out. You know, not just the linebacker corps, but defensive lineman, secondary – talk out on the field, communicate, and just have everybody on the same page."
To watch the video of the interview with Demens, click play below.