"The differences are probably when you come in as a freshman you are really not sure of what your role is quite yet and you have to work your way into the lineup as a freshman. This year I have been thrown in there and I have built confidence as I have gone along and now I feel comfortable and I know that I am going to be playing everyday. Knowing that you are going to be out there every day builds your confidence and that is the difference between my freshman and sophomore year I think."
Has there been a point where you personally have become exhausted with the expanded playing time and demands as a student-athlete?
"I think so. You have to play through that. It is a grind - we play 50 something games and we do everything that the other students do but we have to be here for five hours a day [almost] everyday. It is a grind and we try to work through it and keep our body in good shape and ready to go everyday."
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel when you are going through exams thinking about the stretch run to postseason play?
"It is. I think all of the guys are excited about being out for the summer and wanting to get their exams over with but we have to focus and bear down for our last exams because we want to make good grades too. It is exciting for us coming down to the end and being able to just focus on baseball once we are done."
Ben Bunting had a similar career path as your first two years with sporadic duty as a freshmen then starting in left field regularly as a sophomore. Now with Bunting as a senior starting in center how has he helped you in your adjustment to starting regularly in left?
"Ben is a great leader and we are great buddies. We are locker buddies and we have bonded a lot over the last two years - both outfielders of course and we have the same sort of game. When I am struggling he helps me out and when he is struggling I help him out. But, he has definitely been a great leader for what I need to look for and things that he does that helps me out in the outfield. He has a lot of experience in left field and he has played a lot of games in his career at Carolina so he knows what he is talking about. So I have learned a lot from him."
What is your relationship with Coach Jackson and how has he helped your development as a hitter?
"Any time I need help or need extra cuts Coach Jackson is always there. Whenever I am struggling he is there and always helps me out and knows what I am doing wrong. He knows my swing as good as I know it and he knows what he is talking about."
How does the defense relay a scouting report into action in the field as far as the outfield is concerned?
"We do a good job at putting together a scouting report about the [opposing] hitters, if they are a pull hitter or a backside hitter. Coach Jackson does a great job. You see him during the game pointing which way their hitter is and we have a good mind as outfielders after reading the scouting report of what they are going to do or try to do."
Coach Fox has praised your aggressive baserunning and savvy - what makes your style effective and what do you look for to be successful?
"I have always played like that and I was recruited like that - that is what they liked about me. I am fearless and I go hard on the bases. Anytime I see an extra opportunity to move up on the bases or tag on a deep fly ball like today I will try it. I will make them throw me out. I think it makes the game more fun when you get on the bases and become a pest on the bases."
Speaking of baserunning, can you discuss how you decide to slide in different situations and what you have to consider when making that split second move?
"It is just instinct. Instinct of how close the play will be or what is better for you. Some guys slide headfirst better and some slide on their butt better. I like to slide feet first mostly unless it is a close play. That way I can pop up and advance and the coaches like that."
In your opinion how does the Tar Heel pitching depth help prepare the team for making a successful run in the ACC Tourney and the NCAA postseason?
"We have a deep pitching staff, bringing in the freshmen that we did. We have a lot of good freshmen in the bullpen and we have some experience there with Greg Holt and great shutdown guys when we need them with [Michael] Morin, Holt and [Cody] Penny; they all do a great job coming in there in big situations and shut the other teams down and I think our depth is the best in the ACC and we have an advantage there."