Sophomore Cornerback Dustin Mouzon believes in his ability to be one of 11 defensive starters for the 2006 football season, but at the end of spring training he was penciled in as a backup.
"My goal is to start. I'm playing behind Nate (Banks) now, but I have confidence I can push him for the starting job," said Mouzon, a 5-11, 175-pounder. "I got close to winning the position, in my mind, in fpring, but I missed a few days with a groin strain and that gave Nate an opportunity to put some distance between us for now. My goal is to catch up in August and we'll see what happens from there."
The Orlando, FL, native entered spring feeling good about himself after a solid offseason of physical improvement.
"I put on a few pounds, I got stronger and I cut my 40 time from 4.55 to 4.51," Mouzon noted. "I improved my squat by 50 pounds, my bench by 10 pounds and my clean by 15 pounds. It was important that I got stronger going into spring. I accomplished that.
"It's also important that I keep getting stronger and I will get that done in the offseason. You don't go backwards with (Strength & Conditioning) Coach (Aaron) Ausmus."
Dustin was a major contributor on special teams and in a backup role in the secondary in 2005, but he's confident he can play a bigger role in 2006.
"At the very least, I will be on just about every special teams unit and I think I will be the third corner in the rotation. (Secondary) Coach (Chris) Rippon says he'll always have three corners ready and the way I see it, that's Nate, T-Mac (Trumaine McBride) and me, but Terrell (Jackson, who plays behind McBride) had a good spring too and is pushing for playing time now. We've got a healthy situation," he explained.
Dustin also feels he figures into the picture, along with senior S B. Brown, in nickel and dime situations.
"I did that last year some and worked hard in nickel and dime packages in spring," he noted. "It's not just about your physical skills. You have to understand what your assignments are and roles are in every situation from the nickel and dime positions. That takes time and paying attention."
Mouzon said his bread-and-butter is special teams.
"I love them. Even if I am a starter, I'm going to lobby the coaches to let me stay on special teams," he continued. "There's a thrill of being in the open field and making a play. It's hard, but that's what makes it fun and challenging. Everything is coming at you full speed when you are going full speed. You have to stay alert and react quickly and you have to have your head on a swivel. I love special teams."
Dustin's goals are high, but reachable, he says, if he will keep going in the right direction.
"I have to become more consistent. Corner is a no-mistakes position. A mistake at CB is six points nine out of 10 times," he added. "I gained the confidence of the coaches last year and helped that cause in spring, but I want more confidence from them - complete confidence. I want the coaches to know that when they call my number they can count on me to perform."
Dustin also belives it's getting to the point in his career where he can start being more of a team leader.
"Leadership comes from all directions, but it's difficult for a young player who's not a starter to step up in that role. I'd like to become more of a leader on the team as time passes," he ended.
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