You look like a man now! How much do you weigh now compared to what you weighed in high school?
"(Laugh) I am about 243 now. I put on a little weight."
A little weight? It's all muscle now.
"(Smile) Yeah, I was about 220-something in high school. I'm about 243 now."
How has that added weight affected you on field. Have you lost any quickness?
"Not really. Most of it is leg weight, muscle, which helps me get moving, moving faster. I'm actually getting faster."
Are you about where you want to be weight-wise?
"Yeah, I'm good right now."
His is more of a joke but I told you about the movie Begin Again. (The Maroon 5's) Adam Levine has a beard similar to yours in that movie. Have you seen that movie?
"Yeah, I have seen bits and pieces of it."
Is he copying you or are you copying him?
"He's probably copying me (laugh)."
Last year you weren't completely new to the game because you had that redshirt year. This year, you have a year of experience playing in the SEC and playing in a lot of games. How much is that different for you?
"It is going to be a lot different. I kind of felt more comfortable toward the end of the year. I felt better with what I am doing. This year is really a big year for me. It is going to be a lot different. I pretty much know what is going on. I am trying to get my head mentally prepared for the season."
Beniquez Brown said he's going to try and digest the film and use what he learned on the field? Is that what you are trying to do, too?
"Exactly, that is exactly what we are trying to do as linebackers. We are trying to understand the game (at) a new level this year as opposed to last year where we were trying to get used to it. This year, we are trying to understand it like veterans would."
What was it like last year when you were on the field and you knew you saw (the play) on film but it just didn't click?
"Yeah, you saw the play on film but there were only two or three plays where it kind of clicked. You were kind of nervous throughout the game. But toward the end of the season you started feeling a little better about it."
You lost Deontae Skinner from last year but added (redshirt freshman) Dezmond Harris. Do you see the depth and versatility being a little better this year?
"Yeah, we have some good linebackers. Dezz is going to be a good player. We have some good young guys. We have a really good rotation going on a linebacker."
What have you seen from (true freshmen) Gerri Green and Deshon Cooper, both are long and big, kind of like Benardrick (McKinney)?
"They are long, big guys who are getting their feet in the ground. They are working on using (their) size. It takes a lot to develop that size. But I think they are doing good. They are going to be good ball players."
You look like you are comfortable being a leader. Are you comfortable being a leader despite still being relatively young?
"Oh yeah, definitely. It is definitely encouraged for the middle linebackers to be leaders. Me and Benardrick kind of split leadership roles on the team. Really, all of the linebackers do. We all have our part. Me and Benardrick kind of lead more the D-line. The outside linebackers help the cornerbacks and the safeties. Everybody helps each other really."
I look at you and you are kind of like Benardrick. You both seem so serious. Is that part of your style? There is not a lot of smiling. It's like you take everything like it's business. I get the impression that both of you are very serious guys out there.
"Yeah, we are pretty serious but we can goof around. Benardrick is pretty goofy sometimes. We are serious when it comes time to be serious but we will goof around, too."
Do you feel good about moving around? I know Coach (Geoff) Collins like's you guys to be able to play all three linebacker spots. Do you feel comfortable at all three now?
"I have been playing a little Will here and there. Mike and Will, I play two positions. Will is pretty similar to Mike. There are just some small differences, like Hot 3, Hot 2. It is kind of a different technique. But they are pretty similar. I just need to make sure that I know both positions."
Why do you believe that this defense is being hyped so much?
"I think we had a really young defense the last two years. Now, we are starting to mature and grow. We are working on the small things to make our defense closer, smarter, better and faster. And I think it is going to be a great year."
Benardrick seems to be the leader of this defense. Can you talk about how important he is to the defense?
"B-Mac is a great guy, a great player. He has a lot of energy. He can be goofy, serious. He is a likeable guy. He's a natural leader. He's got a lot of potential."
Do you see any difference in him from last year to this year with Deontae Skinner gone? He told us he's kind of taken it upon himself to be the leader, to be that guy. Have you seen that?
"Yeah, I can see that. He has been a real good leader. And he's going to be that this year."
What have you seen that is different about him?
"He is kind of stepping up. He knows this is his year. He knows he has to be the leader this year. It is kind of the expectation that he has."