Q-How is your progress so far this fall camp?
A-I'm making huge strides huge improvements. It took me a minute to understand our defense and Coach [Jackie] Shipp's way of coaching and things like that, but I feel like I've totally got it down pack, and I should see some results.
Q-When exactly did you get hurt?
A-I want to say middle of the season maybe.
A-High ankle sprain during practice and up leading to that point, I was on the verge of getting in, verge of getting in, you know, not quite ready, not quite ready, but , you know, getting closer and closer. And just in practice just in a pile up and rolled up the ankle, so that even prolonged me, you know, coming into the picture. But everything's fine now, 100 percent everywhere. So yeah, it's really looking good.
Q-Was that frustrating?
A-It was very, very frustrating. I was on that edge and just something like that to happen was kind of, you know, kind of I wouldn't say demoting but it was pretty much a setback for me.
Q-When did you start to feel like your old self?
A-Winter workouts actually. We got done with the season and actually I kind of just, you know, put things in God's hands and kind of let things take place how they may and just kind of sit back and watch the older guys and see how things really work around here and when winter came around, just weight room, weight room, running, you know, just getting myself, you know, into that physical shape that you need to be in to play this position and play this sport. And that's what I'm really starting to, you know, come into my own and starting to realize, you know, what I have to do to be able to sustain myself.
Q-Who have been some of the older guys that you've leaned on to teach you the trade?
A-My locker is right next to Frank Alexander, and he's been almost like a big brother to me. You know, just showing, he's been here maybe five years, I think, and he's been just sharing so much knowledge and showing so much, you know, care and just teaching, you know, about how things work around here. So, he's been a really big impact. Casey Walker is another one I look to. He's been around for a long time. Jamarkus McFarland, you see we got a lot of senior leadership even though guys are not seniors technically but upperclassmen. We've got a leadership, so I just look up to those guys, and they play my position, you know, they know what I'm going through, so that's usually who I look up to.
Q-Have those older guys talked about pressure being on the defensive tackle or unit?
A-Yeah, yeah, oh yeah. We talk about yeah, we know the spotlight has been on us. I mean, obviously the success that D-tackles and defensive linemen had before us is, you know, a weight to put on our shoulders, and we talk about that as a unit all the time, how we want to strive to improve and strive to, you know, live up to Oklahoma defense's name. And we're taking strides and progressive steps at a time to correct it and get us where we need to be. And I think we're coming to that point.
Q-Do you guys turn to watching any type of video of guys like G.K. or Kelly Gregg even?
A-On our own a little bit, we try to get in there, but as far as in ourselves, we usually try to watch ourself and see how it's done correctly. You know, we see tape of guys before us who have done it right and obviously technique changes over the years, so we usually watch ourselves most of the time, try to correct little things and see the technique done perfectly because once you've seen it done once, you know, got that picture image in your head.
Q-In this training camp specifically against the offensive line, how's training camp gone, have the defensive tackles been as competitive as you guys want to be and handled yourself as well as you've wanted to?
A-Yes sir, I feel like it's been a total like last year you could sense that a lot of us weren't sure of ourselves. I mean, the older guys were sure of what they were doing, but a lot of us weren't really sure of, you know, ourselves and our abilities, and this year that is completely different. We've just, you know, taken it and run with it. We're very confident, very sure of ourselves, and I think versus the O-line--we have a really good O-line this year coming in and they're really stable--so I feel like we've showed our talents this camp.
Q-Are you confident you'll be in the mix?
A-Yes sir. Yes sir. Like I said, we're very stout now. We've got J. Mc, he's healthy, got Casey Walker, he's healthy. We've got Stacy McGee, who's coming back. He's going to be healthy. And all three of those guys are potential All-Americans. And so I feel like just being that fourth guy in the rotation and providing that depth is pretty much, you know, essential to the team. But as far as myself being in the mix, I'm pretty confident I'll be there.
Q-How much different are you weight-wise, physically this time around?
A-I came in last year maybe 305, and Coach Shipp had got me down maybe 280, 275. And all winter I just started building back up and getting stronger and faster, getting my body fat down, things like that. So, weight-wise right now, I'm sitting maybe 295 and cutting out a lot of that baby fat and stuff like that, so I'm a lot leaner than I was a year ago.
Q-They were pretty happy about that, how you returned to camp weren't they?
A-Yes sir, yes sir, very happy. And I had a great summer, you know, came in with, like I said, a totally different mindset and worked my tail off. And, you know, I feel like I came in looking good, feeling good, you know, feeling great and I'm just ready for the season.
Q-In the 50-front compared to the traditional defense that OU runs out of the 4-3, is it a big difference for you guys at defensive tackle?
A-Not particularly. I mean, we've changed up our technique a little bit, so it's not exactly the same, but it's not a big difference.
Q-You're playing more on the nose, right?
A-Yes sir, but we also have like the 50-front is the same tech that we use for the four front. So, it's not really a big change. You know, a lineman is a lineman, you know, whether he has the ball or not. So, we just line up and play."
Q-At defensive tackle, people may call you guys a question mark, but how do you respond to that?
A- I have no doubt, no question marks whatsoever on our defensive line or defensive tackle. Like I said, we made huge strides since last year, a year ago, so I feel like we're going to come out ready to prove ourselves. We're not really worried about what everybody else has to say about, you know, defensive tackle group and are they weak? Are they this? Are they that? We're just focused on playing to the best of our ability.