Initially, I had to ask if Tubbs was as fat as everyone said he was, and if he thought conditioning played a part in his injury-riddled junior year.
"Sometimes I think that maybe it (conditioning) did," he said, without breaking my arm. "But, then again, (SE) Roy Williams pulled his hamstring. Its going to happen some time, and it happened to me a little bit more last year. But being in shape will definitely help me. It will help my longevity in the game in being able to play more plays in a certain stretch."
To make sure that it did, both defensive coordinator Carl Reese and DT coach Mike Tolleson took Tubbs aside at the end of the spring and, in essence, told him, If you want to get to the next level and if you want to be the player that we know you want to be, losing weight will definitely help you, Tubbs said.
Throughout the summer, Reese kept the heat on Tubbs, basically calling him out in nearly every preseason publication, including the August edition of Inside Texas magazine. Instead of taking it to the buffet line, Tubbs took it to heart. Tubbs enters the fall listed as 6-4, 310 pounds.
"I think back to the last (2002) two-a-days, and I can see that when I do drills Im not as winded," he practically gushes. "Im like, Whoa! I wish I could have done that during last (years) two-a-days. Its a daily struggle, but Im still trying to lose weight."
Fortunately, Tubbs has not lost a step. Last spring, head coach Mack Brown said the defensive line (particularly Tubbs and Wright) were virtually unblockable. He asked that we not publicize his comment back then, but the fact is obvious to spectators during the current preseason. Recently, when the team took snaps in the indoor practice facility, Brown screamed at the D-line, "Let him (QB) throw the ball! Let him throw!"
Selected to preseason watch lists for both the Outland Trophy (nations top lineman) and the Nagurski Award (nations top defensive player), Tubbs was named Texas Top Defensive Lineman for the past two seasons. He registered 43 tackles, 14 QB pressures and seven TFLs, despite missing five games due to injury.
Tubbs had a hand (literally) in Texas most important play of 2003 when he blocked what would have been the game-tying 36-yard FG with seven seconds remaining in the Horns 17-14 win at Kansas State. The second-team All-Big 12 selection also blocked a field goal vs. Tulane that CB Cedric Griffin returned 56 yards for a touchdown, earning the distinction of the first blocked FG score in school history).
Tubbs continues to solicit advice through regular long-distance phone conversations with former Texas All-American Casey Hampton, a 2001 first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, Tubbs and Wright are frequently compared to the lethal Hampton-Shaun Rogers (Detroit Lions) combination.
"Those shoes are really big shoes to fill," Tubbs admits. "I just wish me and Rod had more time to play together. Rods my little brother, and we want to have fun this year. We both have goals of being All-Americans but we also have goals of making the defense the best it can be."