How have are you enjoying this breakout?
“I’m enjoying it. I’m having fun. Sometimes it’s hard. I know it’s not all supposed to be easy, but I’m making sure to enjoy it. It’s a long season, but it’s going well. If I didn’t like football, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
How much did the win over Kansas calm things down?
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it calmed down. We were focused. We came out and we executed. There’s a lot of things on film that we need to fix and we need this bye week to correct those little things and get better. You take it day by day and go from there.
Growing up where you grew up, what was it like to play a game at Penn State? Geographically, you probably saw them everywhere.
“I wasn’t much of a Penn State fan, but all of my friends were there. They were all talking about it. I always saw them in the papers and stuff. I never would have imagined I’d be playing there. It was a good feeling.”
How much have you learned from your tight ends coaches? You’ve had a few of them now.
“Last year was a wakeup call for me with the blocking. I came in and I got better. I had two very good coaches with coach [Anthony] Campanile and coach [Phil] Galiano. They’ve spent a lot of time with me, and I’ve improved. It’s a process though. You have to keep improving. You don’t just snap your fingers. Also Matt [Flanagan] and Nick [Arcidiacono] and Tyler Kroft last year, they were great role models for me.
Do you get to watch any Cincinnati Bengals this year?
“Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of games. Coach Campy sent us a video of Tyler steamrolling this six-year vet on the goal line. Tyler put him on his back. If I catch a game, I’ll see him in there. It’s cool.
I look at you and I see a lot of similarities to Kroft. You’re a tall guy that had to put on a lot of weight to get here, plus you’re a Pennsylvania guy. What can you learn from his example?
“He’s at the next level, so he’s obviously done a few things right.”
Yeah, I would think so.
“He probably has a little bit of height on me, but I’ve been told we have the same frame. I have to work on getting it down with the run blocking. He was good in all of his techniques and his routes. If you watch him, he was so precise. That’s the kind of thing I have to work on, and it doesn’t come easy. I’ve put a bunch of time into it and that’s a lot to live up to.”
Tight ends are always a key part of what Rutgers does offensively, but you guys are the top passing targets right now. How much do you enjoy that role?
“I have to be better at it. I have to make the right reads on third down. Like I was just saying about Tyler, he was great at running that precise route. I have to do the small things and make the right reads to get to the first down. I think I’ve done pretty well so far. We each have a role, and I’m doing my job.”
What do you like about playing with Chris Laviano?
“We’re very confident with him in the huddle. He knows what he’s doing. He’s got playing time last year, so he was more comfortable this year. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s confident in the tight ends and we feel confident in him. If it’s zone and we’re sitting down, we know where he’s going to put the ball. He’s a clear leader and I love to play with him. He takes total control in the huddle.”