How much do you weigh?
Do you feel this is the best condition that you have ever been in?
"This is the highest weight that I've been, but I want to get up to 245. That's what the coaches want me to get to."
Are you comfortable with your conditioning?
"I'm fairly comfortable, but I want to improve my strength."
What was your max bench and squat?
"My max bench is 315 and my max squat is 440."
How do those numbers compare to your high school numbers?
"They've improved tremendously. In high school my maximum in the bench was around 275 and my squat was around 395. My squat has skyrocketed."
I know you still have to go through two-a-days, but at the end of the spring you wound up 1st team tight end. Did that surprise you?
"At first it surprised me. But I gave my best efforts in practice and I guess, in the coaches eyes, that was good enough to be first-string in the spring."
What do you think you still need to work on so that you will be ready to play in the SEC?
"I think I mostly need to work on my blocking and techniques."
What would you like to tell your number one fan, Mrs. Linda Dahlem?
"Be ready to cheer me on in the games and I'll give you what you want to see."
Sophomore OL Otis Riddley
How much do you weigh now?
"I got up to 347 before the spring and I'm down to 334."
What do you want to get down to?
"Before the season starts, I hope to get down to 315."
What was your maximum bench and squat this past spring?
"Because I was out for so long (due to an injury), it wasn't at its peak but I did 350 on the bench and 465 on the squat."
Before you were hurt, what was your max bench and squat?
"Last fall I did 405 (in the bench) and I usually do 560 in the squat."
How close are you to being 100%?
"I'm about 90%. I still have pains every now and then, but I think that is associated with my weight more than anything else. I'm trying to work through it."
What are you trying to do this summer?
"I'm trying to get my stamina back. I'm not worried about my leg anymore. If it hurts, it hurts. I'm just ready to play."
Sophomore DE Stephen Arant
You really are looking in peak condition. What's your weight?
"I weigh 260 now. I lost a little weight in the spring due to an ear infection. When I started putting it back on, I wanted to do it the right way. I didn't want to get back up to my old weight too fast, so I started eating right and did a little more work on my own in addition to what we did in the weight room."
Do the coaches want you to gain additional weight?
"They would like for me to get back up to 262."
You were a wide receiver/defensive back in high school, so this high weight is new to you. Do you feel comfortable at 260?
"I've lost a little speed, but quickness-wise I think I'm the same. And quickness is what I need. I won't be running 40 yards every play."
What do you think about the conditioning and agility drills you are doing this summer?
"There is a big difference. I like this better. In the past, we ran long distances. There are two different ways to get in shape. There is long distance shape and there is football shape where you start and stop a lot. That is what we are doing now."
What is your maximum bench and squat?
"I lifted 420 in the bench and 490 on the squat."
What was your max in high school?
"I lifted about 280 on the bench."
Do you think you have gone over that barrier where you know you are now ready to play SEC football?
"Yeah, it's all mental. Coming from where I came from (Indianola Academy), you think what am I doing here. Once you get over that, you realize that you can play in this league. And it makes you want to work harder. You don't just want to be on the team; you want to contribute."
You appear to be solidified at defensive end. How long have you been playing that position?
"I was there all spring. When I started out, it was kind of frustrating because I had played it before and thought that I had played well. Then I was moved back to tight end, which is a completely different technique. When I came back to defensive end this spring, I had lost my technique. Toward the end (of spring) I started loving it again. Now, I'm really happy where I am."
Do you feel you have learned a lot from defensive line coach, Brick Haley?
"Oh, big-time. Coach Haley is a blessing because he has helped me a lot."
What makes him such a good coach?
"He knows what he is doing and he is a players' coach. He is always looking out for us and really cares about us. With some people, being a coach is just a job, but he really wants to make this team great. He knows we all can do good things and that is what he wants. He is relentless and will not let you get by going half-speed. You are going to do it full-speed or you are going to have to do it over and over until you do it right. Everything is about finishing and doing the little things. That is how you win football games."
I've watched you guys working out. There is not a lot of rest in between the drills and I haven't seen anyone not do the drills or stop during the drill. How do you guys get through it?
"It's all mental. If you don't go hard that day and you are home thinking about it, you think I could have gone harder and if I had, I wouldn't be regretting it now. Your body can do so much more than you think it can if you can take your mind somewhere else. What I like to do is think about what I will be doing in about two hours."
Gene Swindoll is the owner/publisher of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.