Junior Offensive Lineman Sam Young
It has been reported that everyone has improved strength-wise. Have you noticed that in practice?"We haven't started practice yet, but everyone has been pushing around the weights and moving around better. It has really been good."
You have been mentioned as a leader on the offensive line. Who else has emerged as a leader?"The great thing that has happened in the off-season is that we just don't have one guy on the offensive line. We have the offensive line. No one is going to be perfect every day. When I have a bad day, someone is going to be there to pick me up and vice-versa and that is one great thing that has transpired over the course of the summer."
Is the right tackle spot more natural for you? Are you more comfortable there?"Not really, to me it's just right hand on the ground, left hand on the ground. I have played equal reps in my whole career at both."
What about the responsibility of the position? Normally, people think that the left tackle protects the quarterback. Is there a vast difference between the two?"What it boils down to, depending upon the play, you have different responsibilities. I really can't say that one position is harder or different or has more responsibility than the other."
Are you comfortable back at the right tackle?"I'm comfortable wherever they put me."
Why is it important for the team to get off to a quick start?"It's important because we have done so much already as far as getting ready and now it's time to put it into practice. You talk about winter conditioning; you talk about spring ball where I think we really had a good spring; and this summer everybody has been putting in hours working their rear-ends off. So now it's time to get going."
Could you talk about having a core group as being leaders compared to a single leader last year?"The great thing about having five guys on the line and each person has everyone's back, it's vital on the offensive line to have cohesion and unity."
In the spring, did the communication of the offensive line have to change because of the change on the defense?"Absolutely, because that's no easy defense to go against. My hat's off to Coach Tenuta. We had to learn on the fly and try to get into it. As far as communication, we put a real priority on that and I think we got better, and coming into camp now, that is something we want to improve upon."
Senior Defensive Lineman Pat Kuntz
How has your leadership role expanded this year?"I've tried to lead by example and show the young guys the way that Trevor (Laws) showed me last year. So you lead by example."
As you move between different positions, do you have time to shepherd people along or do you just worry about yourself?"Oh yeah, it's a role that you have to take on; especially being a senior. It's not as difficult as it sounds. It's not that hard to yell at somebody when you have to sometimes (laughing)."
Could you tell us about your situation last year when you left school?"There were just some problems that I had. Basically, I had to take care of them. It was really just a personal decision of mine, and I felt like there were some issues that needed to be taken care of, especially back at home. I went back home and I took two classes to make sure I didn't fall behind and it basically worked out; and that's all I did."
Would you have been able to practice anyway with your injuries?"Yes, I healed from my injuries in late January."
Did you have a cracked bone in your back?"Yes, I did."
That sounds pretty frightening near your spine like that?"Really, it affected the muscles more than anything else. It was the part of the spine where all the muscles are attached to."
How about the knee injury?"No surgery for it, it was just an MCL tear."
So you would have been cleared for spring practice?"Yeah."
What was it like when you were around some last spring but not actually part of the team?"I'm so close to a lot of these guys that it really bothered me not to be here. On the weekends, it was kind of hard because I was more of a spectator; I couldn't be in the meetings or anything. I tried to catch on as much as I could, but it hurt to be away. It really did and I never had to miss anything like that before. It was definitely a learning experience."
Did you have to earn your way back with the guys?"I pretty much stayed in touch with most of them. Now it's practice time and I'm going to have to get back on the field, but I think they have pretty much welcomed me back with open arms and I appreciate that."
Senior Defensive Back David Bruton
Now that you're a senior and a captain, how does your responsibility change?"I just do what I do and lead by example. I am a little more vocal and I just do what I have been doing. Now I just have to take a little more responsibility over the whole team; more so than just myself and the secondary."
How is senior year special?"This is the last go-around, the last hurrah and you want to make it the most memorable one. You want to leave a legacy behind and that's what I'm shooting for."
How are you going to do that?"Make my name a household name; win the Thorpe; make All-American; these are some personal goals but also lead the team to a possible National Championship."
Do you think that's a possibility?"I believe in the deepest part of my heart, I really believe that."
What needs to happen for this to be achieved?"We just have to be quick on all our units. We can't have just one unit being the strong point. All of us have to be able to count on each other. You can't have the offense doing everything on its own and you can't have the defense doing everything on its own. When it comes down to special teams, we have to make plays. We just have to make more plays than what we did."
Coach Weis said, when you guys get the pads on, he's going to increase the tempo. Is that something you think this team needs?"I believe so and I don't think any of us are going to back down from the challenge. That's part of football, physicality. We're going to take it for what it's worth and learn from it."
How's it going to be without No. 9 (Tom Zbikowski) back there with you this year?"It's going to be different. I wish him luck in the next level and God bless him. Kyle (McCarthy) is a very capable athlete himself. We feel he is going to be able to pick up the pace where Zibby left off."
Do you think this means there will be some more big hits coming your way?"I hope so; I hope so."