Senior Billy Palmer knows he has an opportunity for considerable playing time—an opportunity he's not taking light. "I'm just trying to compete and do the best I can," said Palmer of competing for the starting spot. "Regardless of where I am on the depth chart, it doesn't deter me right now. I'm just trying to go out everyday and be the best player I can."
Quite a few younger players are also competing for the starting spot. Jared Clark, Anthony Fasano and Marcus Freeman also appear to be making a push and Palmer says it's great motivation for him. "It's always great motivation to go out there and do well. We all push each other, we all want to succeed. I think with that competition, regardless of how many tight ends there are, we all go out to get the job done and do the best we can."
Each player has something unique they offer. Palmer is probably the better blocker. Fasano has the best hands and both Clark and Freeman have the most athletic ability. Palmer knows he's been labeled but says that label serves as motivation. "I think we all bring something to the table, every player has strengths and weaknesses. My goal personally is to try and succeed in all areas. Whether I am better at one rather than the other right now shows me where I need to work more. I don't particularly enjoy being categorized but that's just more work for me to do."
Palmer has slimmed down this year to try to improve his quickness. He looks to have lost 20 pounds from the previous year coming in around 250. "We have an excellent conditioning and strength staff and working with Coach Marotti and some other coaches, just working on every aspect of the game, speed, flexibility and so on. Also, I am older now and more comfortable with the offense so I understand more intricacies of the game."
"That's something I do during the off season, try to gain athleticism and I'm always trying to cut weight. You can always be in better shape."
Who will win the job? We asked Palmer. "It's up in the air right now. In my opinion, everyone is doing so well. A lot of the guys have come a long way since they were freshmen. We all just have to go out there and compete."
Palmer says he is just going to do the best he can to try to win the starting position. "Personally you want to go out there and do the best you can. It's a day to day thing, you have to be mentally ready and it's based on how you compete."
Many have speculated that Palmer might be a one heck of an offensive guard. Palmer says there is no plan to have him switch. "At this point there is not, no."
Palmer does look quicker on the field in 2002. He is moving quite well out there and you can see an improvement in his athleticism. Billy might just be a great tight end after all.