Chris Strong is not picky.
Defensive line? No problem. Middle LB? No big deal.
One gets the feeling the 6-2, 280-pound freshman would play quarterback, if asked.
"I just want to play - I don't care where. I'm an athlete who wants to help the team however I can," said Strong, doing his first interview with the media since his arrival at Ole Miss earlier this month. "I am confident in my ability to help."
Even a confident Strong is surprised how he has surfaced as a first-team defensive player this quickly in his career.
"I didn't expect to be a starter this quickly, but I'm excited about it," he noted. "I've got everything down now, so I'm comfortable, but I'm still kind of surprised I'm where I am on the depth chart."
Chris said the learning curve of knowing his assignments has been the hardest part of his transition to college ball at this juncture.
"Learning my plays has not been real hard, but there is a lot to learn. Football comes kind of easy to me, but you have to know where to be at all times in a gap defense," he explained. "Being the guy to call the signals this quickly has been difficult, but the coaches are preparing me. We have put in a lot of extra time on that part of playing MLB. It should be OK."
Chris said playing either/or on the DL or at MLB is no major challenge.
"Really, I like them both. I think I'm better at middle linebacker, but I like the challenge of the DL as well," Strong explained.
If Chris is at MLB, he needs to lose some weight. If he is asked to play more DL, he needs to gain some weight.
"I find both pretty easy to do. I can gain or lose quickly, it seems. The heaviest I have been in camp is 282. The lightest is 267. I haven't weighed in this morning. I guess I'll wait until they tell me where I am playing," he laughed.
Strong said he's looking forward to his first college game.
"I'm ready to see what I can do at this level. I've practiced pretty well, but games are different. I'm anxious. I will love the crowd and try to have fun while doing what I do," he said. "Memphis is athletic on offense and we are kind of young on defense, but I think we can handle it. I think it will be fun.
"I have played against several offenses that try to spread you out in high school. The key is to stop the short routes for short gains, stop the QB from scrambling and stuff the RBs. I think we can do all those things effectively. Playing against a spread will be just like high school to me, we just have to shift into another gear for this level of competition."
Chris said it hurt him when he heard the news of Jerrell Powe being declared ineligible to compete.
"It was hard on all of us. Jerrell is like a brother to us. It will be hard to go out there without him. We hang together. It's tough," he stated. "We just need to keep him close to us - he's family."
You may see Chris Strong at MLB Saturday. Or you may see him get into a three-point stance at DT. Or you may see both.
Wherever he is, look for him to be moving forward.
"I'm only sure of one thing - I'll be playing downhill and hard," he ended. "I'm going to do my best to give the fans what they want to see."
Chris Strong update -
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