When Ole Miss junior Defensive End Kentrell Lockett ambled into the team meeting room at the Indoor Practice Facility, he was hardly recognizable.
Gone were his trademark dreadlocks, a crew cut now his preferred look, and he's no longer the skinny underclassman, now carrying nearly 260 pounds as opposed to the 242 he played at last year when he had a highly productive breakout campaign.
"Not as many people recognize me now on campus until I tell them who I am," laughed Lockett, one of the more colorful interviews on the squad. "I'm bald now - and bigger."
For football purposes, the hair doesn't matter, but the added weight on his 6-5 frame does.
"I have been kind of one-dimensional with my game. I have been primarily an edge pass rusher," he continued. "I have worked hard to become more versatile.
"(S&C) Coach (Jason) Wilfawn and I have been shooting for a body weight of 263. I have hit 260 a few times, but am fluctuating around 258-260. My lower body strength is good, but now we are working on upper body strength. I can tell a difference in my strength levels. I can do things I couldn't do in the weight room last spring and in the past."
Lockett, and all the Rebels, have been grinding, Kentrell said. A means to an end.
"With the added weight and strength, I should be more versatile," he noted. "Instead of just being a speed player, I will now be able to take guys head-on and bull rush. That will keep blockers on their toes not knowing if I cam going to come off the edge or come right at them. I want to give them a variety of looks."
Kentrell has not been working on his self-improvement exclusively. He's also helping some of the younger guys - Gerald Rivers, Craig Drummond and Alex Williams, to name a few.
"I'm trying to lead by example, telling them to finish drills, be in the front of the line during drills, take care of your schoolwork and things like that. Alex, who we call Pooh, calls me all the time about things he's supposed to be doing and how he can get better. Gerald is gaining weight and Craig, once he gets things down pat, is going to do some big things, I believe. He's going to be alright once he gets it in his mind he is going to be unstoppable."
The whole interview, Lockett was fidgety. He says he can't sit still due to his anticipation of the upcoming season.
"With the work I have put in, it's like getting a new car. You wax it, get the rims shiny, shine the interior, but you can't drive it," he smiled. "It's time to drive it. I've put in a lot of work to get my body and game better. It's time to go and test it out. I'm ready for some contact and getting this season going."
The team slogan - Unsatisfied - is also on Lockett's mind.
"We got of proved ourselves last year, but we want to make sure everyone knows it wasn't a fluke. We have a lot more to accomplish, a lot more," he added. "We have a higher confidence level in everything we do now, but we know we can do better still.
"We are more confident in the weight room for sure and it's spilled over into the classroom. I see a lot more guys sitting up straight and paying attention in class. People now know who we are and we're in the spotlight more than before. We want our confidence to show and we want to show people we can do everything the right way, on and off the field. Last year not only boosted us on the field, but across the board. Now we need to keep building on that."
Lockett sees that confidence daily in the weight room/offseason results of his teammates.
"You look at guys like Jerrell Powe, who has slimmed down a lot, and Ted Laurent, who is putting up monster numbers in the weight room, and Lawan Scott, who has changed his body for the better, and Marcus Tillman, who is tearing it up in the offseason and you know we have something good going," he said. "We just have to keep pounding away the rest of the offseason, in August and into the season."
Kentrell definitely intends to do his part.
"Last year, I made some big plays and had a good year, but I still didn't know the ropes the way I wanted to. This year, having been through the league once as a starter, I know more and intend to use what I know to my advantage," he closed.
The new look will certainly help him reach his individual and team goals.
Kentrell Lockett -
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