Sophomore Outside Linebacker Garry Pack entered spring drills as the top candidate at his position. Early during that session, Pack temporarily lost the number one job to fellow sophomore Dontae Reed, but - according to LB Coach Shawn Slocum - Pack made up most of the gap at the end of spring.
As August drills approach, the competition between the two is hot and heavy, the way Pack likes it.
"In high school, I didn't have to compete for a position. I never had to really work to be a starter," Pack reflected. "In college, you have to compete and I like that.
"It's more fun to go out to practice knowing you are going to have to give everything you have on every snap. I took some plays off last spring and it took me being demoted to second team to realize you can't do that on this level."
Pack's performance in the Red-Blue Game elevated his status with Slocum, but he didn't pass Reed, who is also intent on winning the job.
The tightness of the race for number one has carried over into the offseason.
"Dontae and I work out together. We have grown close in the offseason, but we are both trying to beat the other one in everything we do," he continued. "Lifting, running, agilities, in volunteer workouts, it doesn't matter. We are competing. It has made both of us better and that will show in August."
The difference in the two in spring, said Pack, was simple.
"Dontae made more plays than I did. Linebacker is about production. He produced more than I did until the very end, then we were pretty even," Garry explained. "He woke me up. That's what competition will do for you."
Pack understands the competition will continue and he will have to improve some things in fall camp.
"There is always something to improve and something to learn. I need to really hone up on understanding pass routes and pass schemes and work on my pass drops in August. That is my main goal," Garry noted. "I think I'm doing a good job against the run, but I can improve there too."
Pack reported to Ole Miss last year at "around 208 pounds." He has worked hard to get to his current weight of 223.
"I put the weight on the right way. I have put on muscle and have maintained my speed. That was my intention," he stated. "I'd like to get to 225 before practice begins because I know I will lose a little bit of weight in the heat of August, but I feel much stronger and more fit than I was a year ago."
Garry's outlook on the linebacking unit is positive.
"I believe we will be fast and effective. We need some more depth to develop in August in case someone gets injured, but we are all in good enough shape to play a lot of snaps if that does not happen," he closed. "In either case, I think we will be fine. Patrick (Willis), Kelvin (Robinson) and whoever comes out of the race between Dontae and I will be good starters. We will have to be dealt with and will make a lot of plays.
"We can't wait."
Pack wants starting job at OLB
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