"It was tough, there is no doubt about it. Last year I got thrown in at the defensive tackle position because we were a little light on depth and I definitely got pushed around playing d-tackle. Playing tackle first the first time at 265 pounds in the Big 12, you're going to get pushed around and picked on quite a bit. I took it as a good learning experience and I had great mentors on the team I could look up to like Richetti Jones, Jamie Blatnick and even Nigel Nicholas despite us being the same year. He's just so great on the line that I could learn a lot from him. They were always there with helpful tips and I've grown so much that I know feel comfortable as a mentor on the d-line for some of the younger guys. I want any young guy to come up and ask me a question because I've kinda been run through the wringer and done it all. Whenever they're getting pushed around or having a tough day I can express to them that I've been there and done that so I can help them out."
As a bigger guy on this team and having played defensive tackle last year, do you take a little pride in being a part of the speed package?
"(Laughing) Yeah that is nice but it's all relative. When they say speed package, it's all relative when you're dealing with big ole guys like me. It is nice though to be able to go in during a set where I can pin my ears back and go after the passer. It's been a blast a blast having a role and being a utility guy on the defensive line. Whenever they need me I want to be out there. It's been fun even though it has been a big transition from tight end. I wouldn't change it for anything."
With the tight end position coming back next season do you have any desire to have a Wilson Youman-type role on both sides of the ball?
"You know, I always kid coach (Todd) Monken and Brandon Weeden that if they need a goal line tight end to put me in there. I always tease them and tell people, ‘My hands are the most underutilized weapon on this team.' Everyone gets a pretty big laugh out of that. But in all seriousness, if they want me to do that I'd be more than fine with it but playing on the defensive line is a big enough challenge so I'm just focused on mastering that."
As an Oklahoma kid, how rewarding has this season been?
"When I first came here my dad sat me down and he told me, ‘Oklahoma State is on the upswing and you're on the bottom side of that upswing. Every year is going to continually get better and better.' He was right and he likes to remind me all the time that he was right like fathers do. It's amazing. Growing up I went through some of the tough times and been a fan during some of the years where we've been embarrassed and the years where OU has picked on us and been one of the jokes of the Big 12. To give this fanbase the win and to be a part of OSU history from now on is just incredible. I had people come up to me after the Bedlam game and tell me that their 60-year-old grandparents were crying after the game. The thing is that I'm a fan and a player so I can relate to that. I have such deep roots to this school and it really has been a blessing from God and I've loved every minute of it."
How special was that Bedlam win for your family?
"That's going to be one of my favorite memories. I was on the field and my whole family was brave enough to jump out onto the field down there with me. To share that experience with them, that's something I'll take to my grave. It's something you hope and dream will happen and for it to come true was just awesome."
For that win to mean so much, were you at all devastated the next day when you found out you wouldn't have the opportunity to play for a national championship?
"I think there was about a 5 minute period where we all had our hopes up but then after we sat back and thought about it we said, ‘How can we be upset? We just beat OU for the Big 12 Championship, we won 11 games in the regular season, we're going to our first BCS game,' I mean there is nothing to be upset about. Who isn't excited about heading out to sunny Arizona for a week? I think there was a little period where we were let down but for anyone hoping we are let down heading into this game, they're going to be sadly mistaken because we're hyped up and we're ready to play Stanford."
And Stanford is an exciting opponent for sure.
"Oh yeah, no question. They have a great offense, a quarterback who is expected to be the top NFL pick and they're an elite team out of the Pac-12. It's going to be a fun matchup for fans and the teams."