What happened with you last season?
"Fall camp started off well, then the second to last day of fall camp, I took a pretty bad concussion. I've had a series of them before. Not anytime in college. But I had them in high school a lot. So we had to do tests to see if I could be cleared for practice. But my test results just were so bad that I wasn't cleared to practice. The whole year then there were days when I felt ready to practice. Then the next day I'd wake up, walk outside and it'd be bright and I'd get headaches. I was trying to be completely honest with them, because I don't want to mess with my head. It ended up being almost the entire season. Maybe the last three weeks I started practicing again. That's pretty much what happened."
Have you experienced anything like that again this spring?
"Not at all. Actually what's crazy, though, is that I'll make a big hit and I'll be expecting to feel something, but I won't feel anything at all. I'm good to go."
Are you thinking about it then?
"The second week, that's when we started hitting, and I was really thinking about it. I was kind of tentative, reluctant about putting it all on the line that week. But then after the spring progressed, I haven't worried about it. At least as much as in the beginning."
With Matt Ware leaving and a starting corner position open, did that inspire you in the off-season?
"Most definitely. But even before I found out he was leaving, I was getting excited. I was out for so long, I was on the verge of not wanting to play anymore. I was kind of lazy. This was about mid-season. I wasn't really thinking about quitting, but retiring..."
Isn't that the same as quitting?
"Yeah, well, quitting. When I got cleared and started practice, then I got excited, remembering the old feelings about playing football. I didn't even know Matt was leaving until we had our meetings after coming back from winter break. Then, of course, I got really, really excited to play. I've been so much more focused, especially as far as the weight room goes."
It does look like you've added muscle...
"I've put on about 12 pounds. What I really wanted to do, and what I want to still do, is prove to the coaches that I can play. Not necessarily start, but if I were to get into the game they can trust me to play."
How did you do on pro timing day?
"I think I could have done a lot better. The first time I ran was a 4.49. But prior to that we were out here running and I was running 4.6s. Then I was working with Doc (Kreis) almost every day. He just gave me these last-minute tips and they really helped out. But I actually pulled up on my hamstring when I ran. I think if I had been properly stretched I might have even got that 4.49 down a little bit. Other than that, I thought I did pretty well."
How well do you think you're doing this spring?
"It's hard to say. Sometimes I have mental breakdowns. As far as the physical part, I think I'm doing really well. As far as tackling, and my techniques and all that. But remembering certain play, and how I'm supposed to play, inside or outside, sometimes I have mental breakdowns on those. I think nine times out of ten I know my assignments, though. I just want to get that to 100%."
Have you gotten feedback from the coaches about how you've performed?
"Typically every day, when we're stretching, either Coach Dorrell, Coach DeLoach or Coach Kerr will come up to me and give me some words of confidence, and keep telling me to continue to work hard. It's been a positive spring for me. A lot more positive than last year."
You haven't worked much with the ones. Do you think you deserve some more time with them?
"I wouldn't say ‘deserve.' I want the chance. Put it that way. I can compete with the twos and the threes. I want to show them that I can work with the ones. If you go against the ones, those are the guys playing in the games. If you can go against the guys playing in the games then you can go against anyone. Lately I've gotten in some with the ones, and I've been happy to show what I can do."
What are your expectations for fall?
"Right now I weight about 192 and I want to put on a little more weight by fall. I would maybe get to 200 pounds, or maybe around there, two pounds plus or minus. I still need to be able to move around and not be stiff. With Doc around, there's no way you could get slow out here. As far as playing, I look to build off of spring. I want to keep working hard and performing right through the end of this week so next fall they remember what I did toward the end of spring and how I progressed. It will hopefully keep it their mind to keep me in the mix when they're making the cut about who will play next season."