Thoughts on Kevin Patrick taking over at defensive line coach...
Learn each other out, feel each other out this Spring. Spring is a great time to do that. I'm glad he came around this time. Got to talk to him a couple weeks before spring started to see how he coach and all that. But he's a good dude, good coach, and I can't wait to keep working with him.
Have you been able to talk much with Ryan Nielsen since he left?
Yeah, I talked to him the other day.
Well, I guess what were the emotions? I'm guessing you guys bond together pretty close.
Yeah, we definitely grown closer, it was sad to see him go. But, I mean, he felt like it was best for him and you can't doubt a man for doing something that's best for him and his family. Like people can't doubt me for coming back, I feel like it was best for me and the team.
We both made big decisions this year. We are both happy with them. So, I'm happy for him. Wish him luck in everything that he does.
You're defensive linemates... you've all kinda grown up together? How good could this group be next year?
This group can be the best unit in the country. I believe that. I feel like we were one of the best last year, we just didn't get enough credit. And I feel this year we are definitely coming for the best spot in the making.
What's the next step? Creating more turn overs, creating more havoc?
Just keeping doing what we are doing. Creating more turnovers, like you said, and just stick together. Because when we were all four playing on the same beat, there's no stopping us.
Academics playing any role in you coming back?
I had a little bit... I wanted to graduate. I promised my mom that I would get my degree. But, you can do that at anytime. I just... it did play a role in it. That wasn't like the main factor for me coming back. It definitely did have a small impact in it.
How close on the credit hours you got to go?
After this semester, I'll have like... just a couple more. At the end of next Spring, I'll only have like three more.
So when you get that degree, how much will that mean to you?
It will mean a lot to me. My mom, my dad, my brother all graduate from college. And that's something that I have always wanted to do. And just didn't want to be the only one that didn't. So, it will definitely mean a lot. And I can't wait to give my mom what I promised her.
I know that you may have talked about this earlier. But the expectations for this season. What are your expectations for the line of the team goal?
I want us to be the best here in the country. I know everybody on the line does too. We're just all going to keep working for it. And we are going to have goals for ourselves. And we just have to improve on those goals and work on the small things. Don't look at the big picture.
Look at the small things and improve on those. When you improve on those and focus on those little things, big things happen.
You feel like you're gonna establish a great rapport with your new position coach?
Yeah, Coach Patrick is a very good coach. Like I told the other dude, we still gotta feel each other out... still seeing how each other work and operates. So far, I just can't wait to keep working with him and see what he has in store for us.
You made a huge decision to come back. How hard was that decision for you?
It was very hard. I had to weigh out the pros and the cons for both situations. And I mean, I talked long with my mom and my dad and my brother. I talked long with God. I prayed about it. It just felt like it was best for me to come back. But, it definitely was a hard decision. Just the weighing both the pros and cons of both situations.
You're going to be watching that NFL Draft later on and you'll be thinking that could have been me at that position. And you would've been drafted pretty high.
I was talking with my parents about it. They said if you were sitting there on draft night, like, "I wished I would have went", then it's best for you to leave. I told them I would be comfortable just sitting there on draft night just watching all those other people go up, knowing that I have another year.
So, that's what really played a role in it. Just being comfortable with my decision and knowing that it's the right decision for me.
You weighed all the pros and cons. What was the most important pro for you to come back this year?
Just to develop more as a player, physically and mentally. On the field and off the field. Just watch more film and just be more of a student of the game than I was last year. I can be a lot more like flexible... a better pass rusher. I can just improve on every little thing that I feel like I could use on the next level.
In the day and age when people worry about those injuries. Does that weigh in on your mind a little bit?
If you don't think about it. I try not to think about it as much as possible.
Do you guys got a lot of returning starters. How crucial is that during Spring ball?
It's very crucial. We have a lot of experience, got a lot of people that know how to practice... having veteran guys that know how to do it, and what to do. It definitely makes the transition for the early enrollees and the young guys, it makes it easier for them. Be out here coaching, and helping out.
So it is definitely good to have a lot of returning starters this time.
What's your impression of your new position coach?
He's a very good coach. We learn a lot of new things from him. Just can't wait to keep working with him for the rest of Springs. I mean, it's only been three practices, but so far I'm very impressed with him.
Do you see growth between last Spring where you were, and where you are right now?
Yeah, definitely in my mindset. Last spring I was coming off an okay year, and I was too worried about what I'm going to do next year. Now I'm just focusing on those little things, the reasons I came back. Those little small things throughout every practice... just focusing on those little things like I said.
I'm just working to get better with my teammates and with my D-line.
How about growth from a team perspective?
Definitely, a lot more experience, a lot more age. A lot more guys knowing what to do; knowing the defense, knowing the offense.
Everything's a lot more smooth because last year we got a new offensive coordinator, and offense, they didn't know what to do around this time, but now they're flowing smooth and everything's good, so.
I can't wait for the next couple of practices.
You know, you had some momentum at the end of the season. How's that carrying over to right now?
It's definitely good to win those last couple of games. Everybody's just out here excited because we know what we can do. We just want to improve on that, and we know we were better than 7-6. We just want more for this season. You can see it in everybody's faces. Everybody's working... everybody's just pushing to get better.
What can be the difference... in those one or two plays here and there this year?
My focus, like I said, just focusing on those small little things. One small thing can turn into a big thing, good and bad, so. I mean, just focusing on those small things, that could help with those- just one more plays that we need to win these games.