Ole Miss sophomore Defensive End Kentrell Lockett wasn't prepared for the physicality of the SEC last season as a 209-pound "lineman."
Even though he showed grit and made enough plays with his speed to turn the heads of his coaches as a true frosh in 2006, he knew what he had to do in the offseason.
"I had to get bigger and stronger," he said bluntly. "I got knocked around some in the running game last year.
"I came in here at 209 pounds," said the 6-5 Lockett. "Sometimes the offensive tackles would lock on and just take me downfield. I did good things in pass rush, but you have to be a complete defensive end in this league."
In the offseason, Kentrell knew he had to put on more bulk and, last week, he reached, for him, a nice milestone.
"I'm still not big enough - I want to be around 240-245 - but last week I finally got to where I was maintaining 230-232 pounds. Earlier this year, I'd get to 230 and then slip back to 224, 225," he explained. "Now, I'm holding between 230 and 232. I feel more confident I can now move to the 240 range in the next couple of months or so."
Kentrell, one of the more personable players on the team, said he can tell a difference in having the extra weight.
"Mo Miller and Michael Oher aren't throwing me around like they used to," he laughed. "I'm stronger. I can take on more now. It feels good. I'm not a boy among men now - I'm one of the men now. Lat year I got tossed around pretty good at times. That motivated me to get bigger and stronger. I didn't like it.
"The only way you can be a complete end is to be able to stand up to run blocking and make tackles in the running game along the line of scrimmage, not five or ten ywards downfield. I'm anxious to get on pads so I can show I'm a different player."
Lockett also spent a lot of time getting more familiar with the Ole Miss defense.
"There were three true freshman DEs last year. Me, Greg Hardy and Marcus Tillman. We kind of got a crash course in everything. Since then, we have been able to work more on our techniques, our assignments and the whole defense," Kentrell stated. "I feel I know everything I'm supposed to do now and that's big for me. It's all second nature to me now. When you know what to do, all you have to do is line up and do it. It also allows you to focus on the little things that you can pick up in reading what an opponent is trying to do. You can work on picking up tips instead of worrying about what you are supposed to do.
"When you can pick up little tips from your opponent, it gives you an advantage."
Lockett feels good about defensive end.
"We should have a nice rotation with Marcus, Greg, Chris Bowers, me and whoever else is playing there," he said. "We should all stay fresh and more effective. I think we will have to be dealt with this year. I think we will be a force."
Lockett wants to make a splash this year.
"When I get my shot, I'm going to make the best of it. When I get my chance, I want to make plays so the coaches will keep putting me back in there more and more," he closed. "I want to produce and make it so they want me on the field as much as possible."
Kentrell Lockett update -
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