Brandon Willis on playing defensive end:
Q: here with Brandon Willis. So, obviously, you're running with the 1's right now, how does it feel to kind of be back out here and run with the first team?
BW: I mean, it's good. You know, I mean, just like last year, I was out here running with the 1's. I mean, it's just good to rep your craft, get better at your game. Just get out here and compete again. [audio difficulties] and that feels kind of good.
Q: I remember talking to you at the end of last year. You were kind of disappointed with the way the season went. Starting in spring and then by the end of year, you were kind of backing up. What's been your mindset this offseason? What have you been focused on?
BW: man, it's not even really about the depth chart to me, like, at this point. Like, you know, I know how to flex weights. I know how… they're watching who works well with others. So it's just me improving every day. I mean, I'm not worried about the numbers. Just every rep I get, I'll just try to improve every day, working on my craft. So when my number's called, I'm ready.
Q: what has Coach [Angus McClure, Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator] been telling you, that you need to get better at to kind of rise up the depth chart?
BW: man, really just getting down my footwork, you know, and hand placement every snap. Just be consistent really. I feel like I have the ability to kind of just consistently every down, I just have to work that much harder.
Q: is there anything you can do over the offseason to improve those kind of technique areas?
BW: it's just… I mean, it's just repping. Since I've been here, I've played nose. I've played end. Went back to nose. I went back to end. I really haven't been in a set position to like, "Okay, let's work here." Now, then they move me. "Let's work here." So now I'm at end. I'm not moving. I'm not playing nose. So I'm repping that. Focusing on that. you know, I mean, I don't have to learn 2 positions at one time to try to, you know, rotate around. Just learning end. So I'm feeling good. I'm learning the craft. You know, understanding how the 3-4 works. Just every day working, trying to get better.
Q: does that position feel more like a natural fit for you than maybe the other ones you've tried here?
BW: I don't feel like… you know, I mean, it's a more natural fit than those for sure.
Q: sure, because you're not 310 pounds.
BW: that's exactly. I've been used to playing in 4-3. So 3-4 is a totally different mindset. So, you know, I've adopted the culture and just working to get better.
Q: with your weight, I remember that was a big concern last year because you started out… I think you were about 280-285 in spring or so but by the time the season started, you were more like 270, 275. Where are you right now?
BW: 275. I feel like that's a natural… like, that's… I'm good at that. I'm good at that weight so… I mean, it feels good. I'm not out here running and not like, "God, after this, I got to eat. And I got to slow down because I'm going to lose too much weight." It's just me working. I feel like I'm in a better position right now.
Q: I remember last year, it was kind of tough for you. The eating part because you had to just pack on so many calories during day.
BW: it is. You take someone that's not naturally big and try to make them big, you're going to lose energy. It's just… that's just how it goes. If you're not a 300 pounder, you're not a 300 pounder. Somebody tries to make you, you're going to fall in certain areas. So you got to play in positions where you're comfortable. They have to know what type of player that you are. So, I mean, I think they kind of, you know, tinkered around last year. And they see me fitting as D end so I'm just doing what they ask.
Q: so what have you done diet-wise? I mean, what does it take to maintain 275? Are you not putting on bad weight and that sort of thing?
BW: yeah, like, I'm lean. I'm about 15% body fat. You know, right now. Right now, I'm at 275. I've never had a problem keeping that weight. But when it goes over like 280, you're talking about taking in 4000 calories. If you ever had to gain weight, you know how hard that is. And then going to play in San Bernardino, like, it was unrealistic to me but, you know, I tried it. Gave it my best shot. It just didn't fall into place.
Q: so you guys are going to San Bernardino again this year, you know, coming in August. Is it going to have to be a focus for you to maintain… ‘cause I mean, you've probably got a high metabolism. It's going to be hot out there. I mean, is it kind of a focus for you to eat a little bit more when you're out there?
BW: yeah, I'm a big sweater like as soon as we get out here, I'm dripping. You put me in 110 degree weather, I'm dripping even more so it's just … I have to go into training camp heavier than I want to be just to have that leeway. But it's just a mindset. If you want to play, if you want to work in this system, you have to be that way. If you're not, I mean, you got… you know I'm saying? You just have to take it as it comes. But I feel like I'm strong enough… whether I'm 270 or 260, I feel like I'm strong enough to play. So like, it's just, "Get me out there." You know what I mean? Even last year, when I did play, I was still… it's not like I'm getting thrown out of the play. So, like, it's just getting the opportunity. I don't think weight is any real factor. But they may use it as such but just ready for my opportunity. That's it.
Q: so, Datone [Jones] is gone obviously. And so that other end spot is a little bit open. I mean, [Owamagbe Odighizuwa] played a lot last year so he's, you know, probably got the first shot at it, but for you… I mean, he's going to be out for most of spring. I mean, does that give you an opportunity to show off? And then maybe be in that competition come fall?
BW: yeah, for sure. Like I feel like we've been here… you know, this coaching staff knows what they have. Even though you want to see something every day, you know what you have ultimately and you know what you want to do, you know, but it's up to me to show them, you know, "I'm here. I'm getting better." You know, "watch me." So, you never know. One defensive end can start and you never know what's going to happen. So my thing is, just be ready. You never know. You come back and he doesn't. Not full health. Or… I don't wish anything on Owa. Owa's a great player. You know what I mean? I hope his conditioning is great. That's my brotherhood. I want all of them to do good. So, I mean, I just… When my opportunity arises, I'm going to take it. That's all.
VIDEO: Willis on Defensive End
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