You know you will be playing this season after redshirting last season. How did the redshirt season help you prepare for this season?
"It was great for me because I had the chance to learn and become more physical and better mentally. It was a great year for me."
What is it like knowing that in a few weeks you will be playing college football in the SEC?
"It is very exciting but I am just focused on camp right now. I want to constantly get better and be consistent. But I know the time is coming so I have to buckle down and get ready."
What was the biggest transition for you last year coming from high school?
"Evaluating film. I had to learn how to evaluate film. I had to learn what offenses were doing and why they were doing it. The learning curve my freshman year was hard for me. I didn't know too much coming out of high school. I didn't have the coaches and we didn't have the technology that we have here. I know everything now so my learning curve is over."
How long did it take for you to learn everything?
"During my redshirt freshman year we didn't learn much. We just contributed what we did in practice. We didn't get coached as much. But after the season was over I started to get into the playbook and in the film room everyday with the older guys and asked them questions. I would talk to guys like Kendrick Market and Kivon Coman. I would ask them why is that happening and why do we do this? And they would break it down for me."
Going back to film evaluation, what does the safety key on when he watches film?
"Basically, we key on our technique first because technique plays a big part in how you play. If you don't have the technique then you can't properly make the play on the field. You evaluate your footwork, your technique, your eyes, everything like that."
Ok, you got that down. Then, what do you key on when watching the offense?
"I key on the form code, how the receivers are lined up, the running backs, the quarterbacks. The safeties are like the quarterbacks on offense. We have to evaluate the entire offense, set it out and tell everyone what they are supposed to do. When they motion we have to call it out."
Who are you yelling the instructions to?
"The cornerbacks and the linebackers. The linebackers are responsible for the D-line and the safeties are responsible for the cornerbacks and linebackers."
Are any of the position players yelling things to you as well?
"The linebackers. And the corners sometimes when they see different stuff than we do. When they see wide receivers with cut splits or another tight end. We'll then call the change."
Not only are you having to cover passes and make tackles but you are also having to read the offenses, then call out defensive information. That is a lot of responsibility. How long did it take to be comfortable with all of that? "It took the spring and summer for me to learn everything. When Coach (Manny) Diaz came in. Coach Diaz is all about detail and knowing where we are supposed to be. It really didn't take me long to learn it. But in the spring I really practiced hard and learned everything then. In the summer I also worked hard with some of the (graduate assistants)."
You are lucky because you have a position coach who has been coaching safeties for years. How much does it help to have a coach like that?
"Coach Hughes is a very good coach. He is patient with us. He explains everything and lays everything out for us. He is a very calm guy. We go about our business in the meeting room. We don't joke around. We go in there and prepare for everything. We don't have to worry about anything when we get to practice because he has repeated everything over and over. The repetition has gotten into your head."