On the spring game
It was fun. A lot of energy. A lot of guys who I’m friends with were against me today, but it’s cool – we’re friends now because we won. One of my friends, Nate Meadors, owes me Roscoe’s tonight. So I’m looking forward to that dinner. But it was good. A lot of guys got the opportunity to play in a game-like situation and a lot of energy, a lot of fun, a lot of learning, a lot of tackling, a lot of interceptions. Just fun.
On whether the white team gets an award for winning
Na, just recognition. That’s it. Shout out to Miss Val – she’s a great coach. That was one of her goals; she said she’s been dating a DC who has been coaching here for a long time and she’s had some success as a coach here. But she’s never gotten the chance to coach for her team that she’s been rooting for all her life – and win the game as a head coach. So we tip our hat off to Miss Val. She’s a great lady, too. Really great lady. She had a speech at the beginning of the game, and she got us fired up. I got the goosebumps.
On Valorie Kondos Field’s pregame speech
Well, you know, I’m like, ‘Well, what is she going to say?’ This is not typical where a lady stands up and gives a speech to grown men, right? So she just told us to go out there, be yourself, and ‘guys believe it or not,’ she said, ‘you’re having your most fun when you’re in the zone. Unless you’re not in that zone, then things won’t go the way you expect it to go.’ So I thought that was a really great way of thinking, because she’s right. A lot of times when I’m in the zone, that’s when I’m having my most fun – running around and making plays. It’s just a great feeling. I’m just so passionate about the sport. And that was great that she said that, and I think the guys felt that. I’m pretty sure that’s why we won.
On where the linebacker group stands at the end of spring
Right now, I think we’re off to a pretty solid start. How far that start is, I don’t know – because right now we’re not into the season exactly. But I think we’re off to a great start. I think the guys are very coachable; they’re eager to learn and they learn from the older guys. They learn from me, they learn from Josh Woods, who’s developing his role into the defense. They’re now willing to take adversity and respond back to it. And I think that’s been the greatest thing. Like I told you guys earlier: I’m more there for when things get tough, and to tell them, to push them like, ‘Hey guys, we’re almost done, let’s finish strong.’ Because it’s all mental at the end of the day. The game is all mental, and it always will be mental. I try to take that little bit of advice and give that to them. But they’ve responded well; I haven’t had to holler at them any. But they’re a great group, they’re a great group of guys, they’re a great group of people at the end of the day. I love those guys, I really do.
On DeChaun Holiday’s spring camp performance at linebacker
Besides Krys Barnes, I was really surprised at the way DeChaun came out and played. Earlier in his career, he came in as a DB and then they switched him over to linebacker. That was a totally different role for him, right? So like I said, the thing that stood out most to me was his response to that. I’m sure it didn’t go the way he wanted – with him staying with the DBs – but he responded positive. He made a lot of plays. A lot of plays. He’s very coachable – Scotty didn’t have much trouble with him getting lined up or anything like that. He responded well to me telling him things to do on the field, and to play at a high level. And I think he has the potential to reach a very great height in his career as a college football player. And he’s hungry at the end of the day. He’s a very hungry guy. I think this injury is going to humble him, as it has done for everyone; every injury has humbled us. But he’s going to do great things. I’m excited to see where his future is going to take off.
On what his role will be in the offseason / summer workouts
I guess just keep the message the same – keep the message in their throat. And what I mean by that is that you always relay to them – even when you’re chilling, hanging out with the guys, hanging out with your girlfriend, or whatever it may be – always remember the reason why you’re here. And like coach Mora talked about before we broke the huddle; he said, ‘What’s the main thing you do guys?’ And he said, ‘Protect the team.’ And that’s with everything you do – protect your university, protect your family. You keep a good name, you keep a good reputation. Those guys, man, we have a great group of guys. I’m so excited to get started with them. It’s always a different team every year. And I don’t know where things are going to take off this year, but we had a great start with this spring camp. And we’ve got Josh Rosen back – our great quarterback. Things are just exciting, man. Every day you felt the energy of guys coming out, competing. No crying, no complaining, not worrying about the sun beam being too shiny or anything like that. It’s just a lot of great energy. And I love to see it as an older guy, because when I was a freshman that just got here, the Owas, the E.K.s, the Brett Hundleys – they were top-notch pros at doing their job. And that’s one of the things I had to learn, and to implement it to the younger guys. And I think I’m doing a great job at that. But as far as my role as a leader: I just want to keep being a leader, man. Keep showing them to do things the right way, to where their approach, their preparation, their off-field decision makings. I always tell them, ‘If you make a decision, you have consequences that you could suffer.’ And they respond well to me. They respect me, and I respect them. And like I said, they’re great guys.