Jonathan Alston Comments On The Upcoming Season
On Being Comfortable As An Offensive Lineman:
"I came here thinking I was going to be a defensive end all the way. But then last year they told me they needed me on the offensive line and I said, 'Okay, anything to help the team.' Now it's more than that to me. Now I enjoy being an offensive lineman. I'm not hesitant anylonger. I know what I am doing out there and that gives me the confidence to get the job done."
On The Chemistry Of This Year's Offensive Line:
"We spent a lot of time together this summer every since spring practice was over. We took it upon ourselves to be determinded to come together as a group, as a family. Travelle Wharton has a lot to do with that. He is a real leader ... by word and deed. You know Travelle did something that few people really know about. Travelle came back for another year because he knows what this group can do and he wanted to be a part of it. He didn't want to leave last year on a bad note. That says a lot about how dedicated he is to this team, to us and to Gamecock fans. And we saw that and we have thrived on that. What eventually happened was that one day we all looked around and realized that off the football field, away from the game, we are all friends. That's real important. It makes you feel good about each other and yourself. We like each other. We have fun being around each other.
What happened? What is different than last season?
"I think it really started when we started getting more unit time in our own (training) rooms with our own coaches. Learning is easier because there is more time for our position coach to concentrate on us. Plus, being in the same meeting room gives us a chance to discuss things that we need to improve on. I like this. We get in there and take a serious business-like approach. That's what different more than anything. Last year there were too many distractions - this year there is not."
There were distractions last season?
"Well ... just let me say this. There was a lot of confusion last year at times. That's past us now. We learned from that and now we know what not to do. This year we are doing it right, like I say, Travelle is a great leader. We are getting a lot more personal instruction. We are a close knit group. Things are a lot smoother now. And if you could look around you would see that this really applies to the whole team. We are all learning better this year. Being in the same rooms under one coach has a lot to do with that. Being a year older has something to do with it too. Plus none of us liked what happened last year so we have a lot of things pushing us to get better."
People wonder if you are heavy enough to be a SEC offensive lineman:
"That was probably a fair question last year. But I am 300 pounds this year. 6-6 300 pounds. That is plenty big enough to not only get the job done but to do a good job in the process.
"Last year my problem was my shoulder. That's all over now. Here is an example. Last year I was hurt and in so much pain I maxed-out at 225 on the bench. In the tests a few days ago I did 430. That's the difference? And the reason I am feeling primed this season is because I dedicated myself. It takes hard work and you have to be willing to do it, not just for yourself but for the team too."
Talk about your teammates on the offensive line:
"Woodly was back practicing today and that made us all feel good. Jeff Barnes got his leg rolled on, he's in the trainer's room now so I'm not real sure how that's going. Jabari will probably step in and take his place tomorrow. Travelle is our leader. Nashan is really doing well. Going back to Woodly for a minute. He really fits in well here. He was an instant hit with us and immediately became part of our family. We were really glad to see him back today. But there were some other nicks and dings today. I sort of keep up more with what is going on on the offensive line."
Some say Na'Shan Goddard is too nice. Those same people say that on the field, you are mean:
"I'm glad they said that it only applies to being on the field. Hey listen. It's a bloody and violent fight out there, and when I go out there I intend to win. I don't allow myself to think about getting hurt. I don't allow myself to even consider that the guy across from me is better than me. That's my approach. I'm not going to let the guy across from me beat me you know what I mean? So hey, yeah, it's not like I go out there and think the guy across from me did something to my sister or my mother like in "The Program" or anything. I'm not like that. What I do do is that I go out there and I am determined to beat the guy lined up across from me and if people say that makes me mean on the field then that's okay, I'm just doing my job. I have responsibilites to my teammates, myself and other people in my life to think about."
"Yes Sir, other people. I have responsibilities on the field and off the field. I have a nine month old daughter now and from the moment she was born something changed inside me, I can't really explain it. All I know how to say it is that instantly I wanted to make sure that she has a good life ... and that is up to me. I can give her that with my God given ability if I work hard and do things the right way. I can make a good life for her. So I guess you could say I have my own personal motivation. I want her to have it better than I had it, not that I had it bad but I want her to have it better. I am her Daddy, she is my responsibility. It is important to us (his family) that I do well and I need my teammates to help me do that, and they need me. We all recognize and accept that. We all accept the responsibility we have to one another. Does that make sense?"
What team do you want to beat the most - beat badly:
"All of them. One at a time. All of them. Because that way I know it will eventually become Clemson's turn. Some of the out-of-state guys might say Georgia or Virginia. But if you ask most of us that grew up in this state who we want to beat the most, there is only one answer. We're just like all Carolina fans that grew up in this state. We don't like Clemson at all. So while I will take it one game at a time and concentrate on this one game at a time ... in the back of my mind I'm thinking I can't wait to get Clemson down here this year."
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