When DeMargus Granger came out of Dallas Kimball High School, greatness was predicted of him. Granger was rated the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in Texas and many felt he was the best defensive tackle prospect in the country.
However, like many prep down linemen Granger came to OU at 350 pounds and was so heavy that before he could start to compete for playing time he had to get into shape. So Granger did something nobody really expected his first year at OU, and that was redshirt.
Unlike some players who redshirt, Granger took full advantage of his first year on the collegiate level. He worked hard on the scout team and listened and worked under Jerry Schmidt and the Sooners strength and conditioning coaches to get in the best shape of his life.
Now playing at 295 pounds, Granger has been a force this spring at defensive tackle and he looks ready to live up to his billing as a dominating defensive tackle.
Following practice on Thursday, Granger stopped to talk to OUInisder.com about spring practice, getting into shape and the upcoming spring game for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Now that you are in shape you are a totally different player than when you first came to OU. You have to be very happy with the fact that your hard work is paying off?
DG: "Yeah, I certainly had to take off a little weight to do that. I had to learn my position and I have to continue to try to learn something else at my position."
JH: Coach Shipp really stresses technique and demands that you and the rest of the DTs play with great technique. You can't just bullrush playing for Coach Shipp can you?
DG: "Setting back and watching Dusty (Dvoracek) and Remi (Ayodele), I realized that technique can take you a long way. It can be the difference in you being a great player or just a good player. Surprisingly, it is not just bull-rushing here like it was in high school. Developing my technique and learning how to play the position are things that I have to learn so that I can take my game to the next level."
JH: I would guess you have had to adapt to the speed of the game as well, haven't you?
DG: "I just had to lose weight to catch up to the speed of the game. I came in way over weight at 352 and I had to work hard with Smitty and his crew to get down to where I am. I had to give up some stuff that I really love, like ice cream and Mexican food, and start eating baked chicken and good food like that. That was just so I could get a good base under me so that I could catch up to the game."
JH: You really gave up Mexican food?
DG: "Yeah, it has a lot of carbs in it and the cheese isn't really good for you."
JH: Duke talked to me and said it was hard for him at night when he would crave snacks or want to eat late at night. Did you go through the same thing?
DG: "It is just like Duke says. The late nights when I am in the 'Bud' or dorms and I watch the skinny receivers and DBs snacking on pizza and drinking pop. And you be like, 'Hey, I can eat just one piece of pizza and I will be alright. But you eat that one piece and you come in and weigh in the next day and you will be about a pound over and it will take you an hour to get it off. That is one hour of my day just wasted for a lousy piece of pizza. That got to the point that it wasn't worth it to me."
JH: How much did you have to change your lifestyle to make your diet and workouts work for you?
DG: "One thing that I wasn't doing was getting up and eating in the morning, which is very important. I was thinking that if I don't eat as much then I will lose weight, so I had stopped eating breakfast. But it is really just the opposite. If you don't eat breakfast and you don't eat until you eat lunch, then you will actually gain weight. I had to learn to wake up and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but just not as much."
JH: So now you are able to go through an entire practice and work hard and focus for that entire practice, right?
DG: "I don't worry about getting tired. I can go as long as they need me to, and as long as my body will let me. I feel good about me losing weight. I have lost weight and I think I look good. I think of myself a little better and it boosts my confidence somewhat."
JH: You have tremendous competition going on at defense tackle, so how do you think you are doing?
DG: "All of the players at defensive tackler here at Oklahoma are good players. You have Steve Coleman, who is a veteran and who has been here for a while. So instead of saying that I am going to beat him out, I say I am going to learn from him. I am going to take from him all that he has learned through all the years from other players. He knows a lot and it is interesting to sit back and watch him. Then you have Cory Bennett, who looks kind of small, but he is fast off the ball. So you try to mix a combination of knowing what is going on and thinking that you are small and moving around like Cory."
JH: How tough has the offensive line been to go against this spring?
DG: "We all have been learning off each other and making mistakes because we are all young on both sides of the ball. Both sides of the line are pretty young, so we have been using each other to learn."
JH: How talented are they in the offensive line and how tough are they to go against?
DG: "You have B. Simms (Brian Simmons), who has switched over, and I am not to happy about that. It was best for him to switch over and he has already made a good impression over there. I have gone against him in pass rush and on the o-line is he is doing pretty good for a guy who just switched over."
JH: How important is the spring game for you?
DG: "It is an opportunity for me to showcase what I learned sitting out, and what I learned over the course of the season. I have been sitting back and watching the players before me, just watching and learning some important things about playing d-tackle. I am expecting some really big things from me and I will get an opportunity to show people what I can do."
Two Minute Drill: DeMarcus Granger
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