"I've put on about 15 pounds, and for a while I felt a step slower because I put the weight on so fast, but now I am just starting to feel my body out and work it out," Hemphill told Dawgman.com after Saturday's scrimmage. "Right now I'm trying to get up to 230 and maintain my speed and be physical out there and, you know, be a heavy hitter."
Hemphill is currently 6'5" and 220 pounds of pure muscle and while some might consider his size a detriment, Hemphill sees it as an advantage.
"I think my size helps me first of all to take away the deep ball, which most quarterbacks want to throw and I play the deep ball pretty well." he said. "Second of all, because I have such a large wingspan, it makes me a good open-field tackler and the coaches can rely on me to make tackles."
One tough thing for Hemphill was the tempo that the college game was played at. He was used to being the biggest and best athlete out on the field, not so in Division I.
"In high school it wasn't really fast and physical. Out here everybody's bigger and faster so I think the biggest adjustment is just catching up and learning everything," said Hemphill.
Even though Hemphill got time with the first unit, he is still the backup strong safety and he made mention of the help he is getting from the guy in front of him on the depth chart.
"I had a little trouble adjusting and Jimmy (Newell) has been here for a while and he's been helping me," Chris said. "He's helping me learn the defense so I can be a factor back there. He's like a coach out there. If I have any questions…I look to him for answers. He shows me how to do it."
Another player Hemphill pointed out was JC transfer Dashon Goldson, who is starting at free safety.
"Dashon is a great player on the other side. I have confidence in him and I think we could be a force back there together."
When asked what he likes most about being physical and playing in the secondary his eyes lit up and his answer was right to the point.
"I love the big hit ... all the way," he exclaimed. "People look at me and say, ‘Oh he's skinny, I can run over him', but that's not the case at all. If you come through my hole, I'm going to let you have it."
Frosh running back Johnie Kirton can attest.
When asked about the home opener and playing in front of 75,000 fans, Hemphill said he and the rest of the team are ready to get this season under way.
"Coach (Keith) Gilbertson has prepared us for this game. He just told us to get after it, they are not going to come in here and smack us around. It's not happening, not in Husky Stadium. Everybody realizes that and everybody is going to come together on the fifth and show them what being Dawgs is really about."
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