The good news is that Defensive End Kentrell Lockett had worked his way into some playing time during the 2006 season as a true freshman, .
The bad news is that he injured his knee and shoulder and had to sit out most of the year.
The later news in his freshman tale is that he was given redshirt status due to the injury and he will be a freshman - a redshirt freshman - again in 2007.
He can't wait.
"I'm going to prove myself this year. The redshirt year may have been the best thing for me, but I would have preferred not to be hurt," Kentrell said. "I realize now that there is an adjustment to this level of playing.
"Even though I thought I was ready, and did get to play two plays before being injured, I needed time to get my body bigger and stronger and get adjusted to the pace of college football."
The speed of the game was also something he needed time to get used to.
"That's huge. The players on this level can all move. And by speed of the game I don't just mean on the field. It's the pace in the weight room, the film room, everywhere," Kentrell noted. "Everything is non-stop. You are full bore here all the time. From classwork to homework to working out to conditioning to practice to games to film study. You have something to do, and all of it is urgent, all the time.
"I've made the adjustment, but it took me some time."
Lockett had some minor doubts early last season about whether he belonged or not.
"When you watch a game from the sidelines, and you watch how fast everything is, you have to wonder if you are good enough when you are a freshman," he continued, "but I kept believing in myself and realized in practice that I could do it. It was still football, something I love to do, it was just another step up in levels."
After getting injured initially (knee), Kentrell was on pace to return to practice a few weeks later. Then, another injury (shoulder) sidetracked him for the rest of the season.
"2006 wasn't meant to be for me. I set a goal to get bigger and stronger so it wouldn't happen to me again," he explained.
Kentrell will be working at LEO (rush end) this spring and is excited about the opportunity in front of him.
"LEO is my position all the way. I can't see myself playing anywhere else right now," he said. "I bring speed and quickness off the ball to the table there. I have a good awareness of the ball and I like to stalk the quarterback."
Kentrell reported last year at a thin 209 pounds on his 6-5 frame. He's now up to the 230 range and can tell a difference.
"Gaining weight has been difficult for me. I'm eating all the time. Sometimes I think if I eat any more I may die," he laughed. "I eat when I'm still full. I'm full all day and I'm constantly eating because I know I need to gain weight, but I'm sick of food."
In the weight room, Kentrell has also seen big progress.
"In the clean and squat, I was intimidated at first because I didn't know the techniques of the clean and squat and the bench press is tougher for someone with long arms like I have," Kentrell said. "Now, I know the techniques of the different lifts and I am holding my own with my peers.
"When I first got here, I felt weak. I wasn't weak I just didn't know how to do the lifts properly. Now I do and I can tell a difference in my strength level and know I have made strength gains, which will help me a lot."
Kentrell said he's not setting any particular goals this spring, except one.
"I just want to be myself and do what I know I can do to the best of my ability. Wherever that takes me is fine," he added. "I'm just going to play football and whatever happens just happens. I'd like to earn a spot in the rotation. I think I can if I just play to my capabilities.
"I'm comfortable with my techniques, but I need more work on my assignments within the system. I've got to get some small things down, but that's what spring is for."
Going into spring, Kentrell says he will be competing with Marcus Tillman and Chris Bowers for PT at the LEO slot.
"I thought the coaches may leave Marcus inside at DT, but I heard he's going to be at LEO at the start of spring with me and Chris. That's great news - it will only make our position stronger," he closed. "Marcus weighed 270 this morning. I've got to keep eating."
Kentrell expects to make a move this spring toward playing time and putting more weight on his frame.
He believes 245 is a realistic goal by next August. He feels at that weight we will see the real Kentrell Lockett.
And he's anxious to unveil that version of himself.
Kentrell Lockett update
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