Speaks Speaks

Redshirt freshman Defensive Tackle Breeland Speaks, who backs up All-American Robert Nkemdiche, is getting his shot to contribute and is learning on the run.

"I didn't get much time against Alabama. I was wondering when Coach (Chris) Kiffin was going to throw me in there, but Robert is our best player and he showed why in that game," Breeland began. "I had no problem with that decision at all, but I think the coaches realize that was too much even for someone as strong and talented as Robert and that I am ready to contribute."

Consequently, Breeland, a 308-pounder, got more action against Vanderbilt and as a result, he knocked down his first pass as a Rebel in a game, something he has had a knack for in practices.

"I'm doing my best to gain the coaches' trust and I think I'm getting there," Speaks noted. "I learn so much from Robert and that is helping me advance my game.

"He has taught me that no matter what, you have to have a great get-off. You have to use your hands effectively and you have to use technique in a league where everyone is as big as you," Breeland continued. "I think from my days as a linebacker in high school, I have a knack for knocking down passes because I am always looking at the quarterback's eyes and that helps me see where he's going with the ball.

"I actually caught one in spring, but even though I knocked down a lot of passes in fall camp, I haven't caught one. I did tip several that were picked of though and that felt good," he smiled.

Speaks was pleased with what he learned during his redshirt year.

"I thought I was ready to play, but I really wasn't. The redshirt was good for me. It helped me get my body right, get in shape and learn some technique. Playing against the number one offense every day last year also showed me I belong on this level. I knew I could play on this level from having played against our top offense on the scout team," Speaks said.

Next up, the Florida OL.

"They look very good. They have excellent offensive players and offensive linemen," he closed. "We will have another challenge - life in the SEC."

And in this challenge, Speaks will be in the middle to the fray.

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