"I think back at the JC I was able to make more plays. Here I have to do my job and my responsibility first. I can't be running around blocks and doing certain things. We play a gap defense so I have to control my guy first. And with that comes getting up the field, exploding and more stuff. At the JC, I was able to roam like a linebacker from the D-line position. Taking nothing away from the JC, they play just as hard, but it's a little faster here. The big guys can get off the ball a little better. You have talented guys at every position. In JC, you had a few guys that could really play that you had to worry about. Here anybody can do it at anytime."
Have you been surprised by how much you've played?
"My main concern was that I wasn't going to get any playing time. I thought I worked really hard in spring and worked really hard in fall. But I had three talented guys – Rodney, Mo and Sean – that I think can all play, too. But when coach gave me the opportunity, I thought I could do it. I thought I could step in. I really, in the last couple of games, hoped that I could play better. There are some things that I need to work on, my technique. I'm going to get better at that. But it was good to get my feet wet. And I can only get better. I have had a couple of tackles last game, a tackle the first game and I'm hoping to expand on that. I had three tackles, and that one key tackle on third and one. I felt like I was getting close to the quarterback, but falling at his feet. I have to work on keeping my balance and getting off the ball. I want to get to that quarterback. That's why I'm here."
What do you need to work on?
"I have a pretty good get-off and I'm playing with good leverage. But I think the coaches' main concern is me being able to take on a double team, and taking on the run blocking and getting off of blocks. A lot of times I have the tendency to get off the ball really quickly, man-up with the guy and kind of jump around a little bit and dance around him. They don't want me to dance. They want me to get up field and no dancing. A lot of times I'd do a little shiver and it's like, ‘No, just get up field.' At the JC, it was whatever came natural. You had a lot more time to get to the quarterback. Against Oklahoma State, I was watching a lot of the game and it was like: 1, 2, and then there goes the Hail Mary. There were no four or five seconds. They were throwing the ball really quickly. If they're going to be that quick then I have to be quicker."
You're playing this year as a reserve. What are your thoughts about if you had redshirted and possibly started two years?
"I really felt like I was ready to play. A lot of things can happen in a year. That's the way I've looked at it. Not to get too personal, but a big reason is that my father is not healthy. So, for family reasons, my parents really wanted me to see me play. I felt like if I waited I might have missed an opportunity for my father to see me play."
So, you wanted to play as soon as possible for your father? Is his health that serious?
"He's in and out of the hospital. Every time I come home, it seems like he has to go back in. When he's out, he's in great spirits. Laughing at everything. He's a great guy. But he has diabetes and a lot of health issues. He has gout in his leg and hand. He's too heavy. It's just scary because my grandfather passed away. My father has had two hip surgeries, which the percentages of making it through that aren't always great. It didn't look too good. I'm just worried that anything could hit him at anytime with his health. And it seems like it's been getting worse lately. Every time I get a phone call it seems more serious and more dramatic. He would go into the hospital before because he needed something done, but now he's going in because of certain aspects of his health that are declining and it will scare him. He went into the hospital with a pain in his shoulder, which for me, is no big thing. But for him, they told him they were glad he came in and they kept him overnight. He's doing okay with it all. But I'm just glad he got to see me play at the Rose Bowl. If I wasn't playing this year, well, you never know if he'd be able to see me play."
So, he came down for the Colorado State game...
"Yeah, and he was going to come to Oklahoma State but he couldn't make it. At Colorado State, I missed him on my way out of the tunnel. But I saw him at the end of the game. He was pretty happy to be seeing me play. He's coming this weekend to the Colorado game, too. He'll try to make it to as many games as possible. And then there's the big one up at Cal. He's coming, with about 35 friends. Just about the whole JC squad will be there because they have a bye that week. So, that will be exciting."
You won the Heart Award this week. How'd your father feel about that?
"Yeah, it was great because I didn't think I was going to get my name on that board anytime soon. The team has a board with all these different awards. There's the Heart Award. Hopefully I can get the Hammer Award, which goes to the guy with the biggest hit. The Tore it Up Award goes to, well, the guy who tore it up. When my father heard I got the award he was excited."
Do you feel like you're playing for him in a way?
"Yeah. It's funny, too, because back in the JC, he and I used to make bets on tackles and sacks.. But I'm not going to make any more bets with him because of last year. I had four sacks in the first game and I told him, ‘I'm going to have 20 sacks this season.' And he said, ‘I'll take that bet.' It was $20 a sack under or over what I had. I had like 12 that season. So, he won $160, but I never paid him. That's why you bet your dad because if he wins you don't have to pay him. But I'm kind of looking to get a sack for him."