"Right, I weigh 315. I've lost about 30 pounds."
During the spring, you were moved from offensive guard to offensive tackle.
"Correct, they moved me to offensive tackle."
What were your objectives coming into the spring?
"Coach told me before the spring that they would need me to play left tackle. I was very comfortable with that. I moved there and was there the entire spring. Each week I got better playing left tackle. At first, it was a little awkward. But as time went on, I got better and better with my technique. By the end of the spring, I felt like I was just as comfortable playing tackle as I had been playing guard."
Left tackle is the side that protects the quarterback's blind side. There is a lot of pressure on you playing that position.
"Right. But when it comes down to it, you do everything you can to protect your quarterback, by all means necessary. You want you green grass, as we say on the offense line, between you and the quarterback. That is what you have to do. When you are out there, the quarterback is like your best friend and you want to take care of him. You don't want anybody to touch him."
As a followup to my earlier question, do you feel you accomplished what you wanted to during the spring?
"Yes sir, I achieved all of my objectives. Really, coming into the spring, I wanted to improve my technique at tackle. I just wanted to be able to go out at tackle and do the same thing there that I could already do at guard. I felt like I accomplished that during the spring."
What were you doing during the first part of the summer?
"I was working out, running and watching what I eat. My parents cook really well, but I have to watch what I eat. I just cut back. It is about making a commitment and knowing what you have to do."
What are you trying to do in the second part of the summer?
"Now, I'm just trying to maintain everything that I have done up to this point as well as continuing to improve on other things such as technique. It's also my time to lead, so I'm also trying to help out the younger guys because we are going to need their help this fall. We need depth in the offensive line, so we are going to work with them and help bring them along."
What are your team goals this season?
"First thing is playing together as a team. We know if we play together as a team, everything else will work out. Last year we didn't have team chemistry because we had so many new guys come in during two-a-days. Over the past spring and the summer, I've seen us grow so much as a team. I think that is going to make a big difference in the upcoming season."
How do you want to help the team individually this year?
"I feel like, because I'm a junior and one of the more experienced guys on the team, it is up to me to help bring on the younger guys and also to lead while I'm on the field. I just feel like that is part of my job now. I'm just trying to do my best to do that."
You really seemed to have matured since I first got to know you as a freshman. Do you see that as well?
"There has been a tremendous increase in my confidence because I know the system. That is the biggest part of it, knowing the system. The only thing now is once you know the system, it is just about going out there and doing it. The physical part is there. Once you know the system, it just comes natural to you. Now, I'm just trying to improve on the intangibles."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.