What did you try to do during the spring to improve yourself?
"I tried to use my hands better, tried to stay low, and have better technique. Mostly, it was about technique this spring because I played a little high last year."
During high school you could beat the offensive linemen on talent alone. Did you realize once you played a game or two in college that your technique needed work?
"I know all of these guys are really good and I learned from my losses what I could do differently. I expected to get beat sometimes in college because you can't win them all. But I still want to win them all."
I talked to Gabe Jackson earlier in the year about going against you in practice and he said he would rather go against Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche than you because you are a monster in practice. This is a potential first-round draft pick saying that about you. What did you learn from someone like him when you went against him in practice?
"I knew he would be going high in the draft. And by going against him in practice each day I knew I would learn things from him. Gabe made me work everyday. He's a veteran who could change up on me in practice. And by changing up on me he made me think and learn to use my technique better."
Do you remember the first time you went against him in practice?
"Yeah, it was bad because I ended up on the ground that first time. It surprised me because I wasn't expecting to get beat. But Gabe was the man and nobody could beat him. Preston (Smith) went against Gabe, so I started doing what Preston was doing against Gabe. I started mixing it up."
Were there other guards in the SEC that were as good as Gabe?
"There weren't many because Gabe was a great overall guard."
When did you actually start beating him in practice?
"I actually beat him pretty bad my first day in practice. I beat him twice. I started going against him in practice everyday after that. Then, I started freaking him (out). And if you are freaking Gabe, a top round guy, then I knew I could do it against the other guys."
What did you do to freak him out?
"I got Gabe to move his feet. I figured out that guards don't like to move their feet. (MSU defensive line) Coach (David) Turner told me beat them outside, then they are going to open their hips and you can then go inside. So, I started doing that a lot."
Based on how much you improved this spring, percentage-wise, how much better are you now than you were when you first got to Mississippi State?
"I'm about 80% better now. I'm more fit. When I first got here I was out of shape. I had gained so much weight, I was like 315, 316."
Why were you so out of shape and big?
"I was eating everyday and the food is delicious here. I was even gaining weight while practicing everyday. I was drinking more Gatorade than I was drinking water. I tried losing weight during the season but that's not healthy for you because you were taking away carbs and protein from your body. This year, I've gotten in shape and feel like 290 pounds is a great weight for me."
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