What are your thoughts about your tight end position going into the upcoming season? With the departure of Marcus Green, it's become a more inexperienced and young group of players.
"It's probably more inexperienced than a young group. Brandon Hill played a little bit last year but was slowed down by injuries. Malcolm Johnson missed half of the season but when he came back he played a lot. Those are the two that have the most experience but Malcolm has played a lot more than Brandon or anyone else. Rufus Warren was a backup last year who played some meaningful snaps in the Auburn game."
How would you describe your tight end group when used in a Dan Mullen type offense?
"We call our group tight ends but they are really not tight ends in this offense. They are really running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen because they have to be able to do everything. There is only one other person in this offense that has to know more than the tight ends and that is the quarterback. The tight ends have to know the run-game, they have to know the pass-game, they have to recognize coverages, they have to recognize blitzes, they have to know pass protections, they have to know the blocking schemes. (Because of that) they have to be a very unique person. They have to be a multi-talented athlete to play this position."
Talk about each player and what he brings to your position.
"Malcolm, besides being a real good football player, is an unbelievable competitor. Sometimes all you have to do is tell him I would never ask you to do that and then he wants to do it. He did a great job this spring of starting to fill the void left with the departure of Marcus Green. He's done a wonderful job of taking on some of the leadership in the room. I love the fact that he is all about the program. He has been around long enough to see how the guys before him achieved success not only in football but in life.
"Brandon had a good spring. He has the type of ability that allows him to do a lot of different things on the field. What we are trying to do with Brandon, as we are with all of them, is get him to focus more on certain skills. I think that has helped Brandon this off-season to become the player he should be. I think sometimes people forget that him coming from a small school, whether it be in Mississippi or in Texas, there is a larger learning curve when it comes to playing in the SEC.
"Rufus has made good progress. We always have known that he has a lot of potential. It's just molding that potential into what we want. And he's doing a good job of that. But like anything else, it's a process to get there.
"Gus Walley is a prime example of the type player Coach Mullen is looking for in a tight end. He is a hard-working, blue collar guy who you could see develop throughout the spring. As he become more comfortable with what was going on, you could see him getting better. His best practices were late in the spring.
"Christian Holmes has unbelievable individual skills that he needs to learn to put into playing that position. Those skills are why he is an excellent special teams player. To become an every down type player, he has to learn to put those skills to use as a tight end."