Xavier Lawson-Kennedy Q&A

Xavier Lawson-Kennedy has heard the talk. He's heard how people are wondering if one of the highest-ranked high school players to sign with OSU in recent years is going to be remembered as one of the biggest busts. XLK has but 15 tackles and not a single quarterback sack while playing in 21 games the past two seasons. XLK says he's finally healthy and ready to make an impact after battling injuries his first two seasons. We visited with XLK on Saturday about the upcoming season.

GP: How is practice going so far?
XLK: You know how practice is – hot and tired. We're getting a lot done and we're having a lot of fun out there.

GP: I hear there's not a lot of loafing out there?
XLK: That's the difference between coach Miles and coach Gundy. Coach Miles is a great coach, but coach Miles kept us out there a little bit longer. Coach Gundy, he told us you've got two hours. If you don't get my work in, I'm adding time. He wants to be out in two hours so everybody can go home.

GP: There have been some big expectations placed on you to finally live up to the hype this season. How do you respond to that?
XLK: I feel like this is going to be a great year for me. I feel like I was in my junior year in high school – that was my breakout year – and that's how I feel again. I feel great. I've lost 30 pounds but I gained 10 in muscle so I feel great this year.

GP: How did you lose 30 pounds?
XLK: Coach (Rob) Glass (laughing). He made me. To tell you the truth, I really don't know. Coach Glass worked me out hard, and it just started coming off. It was really coming off without me doing anything extra. I mean I was lifting weights with the team, (and) I was working out running but I wasn't really doing anything extra.

GP: How good can this defense be?
XLK: I think we can be great. We've got leadership at the important positions on defense. We've got Jamie Thompson and (Daniel) McLemore ... you know the positions where you really need leadership as far as the secondary. We've got some young guys who will need to play in the secondary – Martel (Van Zant), Calvin Mickens and the other young guys – but they've got some leaders back there, at least for a year. I think we'll be a great defense.

GP: How much is losing Vernon Grant hurt this team?
XLK: We miss him a lot. I grew up with Vernon. Vernon and Mac (McLemore) were the first two people I talked to when I got to Duncanville. He's going to be here with us. He's going to be watching and acting crazy like he always does. We just have to move on and pray about the situation.

GP: How tough is it going to be having to rely on some of those young guys in the secondary?
XLK: My attitude is if they can play, they can play. I don't look at it as a young guy-old guy situation. There are some older guys who can't learn the defense, so I really don't look at it like that.

GP: What can Cowboy fans expect out of XLK this season?
XLK: The only thing I say is that I am going to play to the best of my abilities. The last few years I haven't been playing to the best of my abilities due to the fact I had two surgeries and have been overweight and out of shape. I feel this year that I'm in shape and I'm feeling good and ready to play.

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