Mickey Turner: I mean, with Garrett and Lance also in there getting some reps, they are waiting to see what works better. Garrett has definitely proven himself as an on-the-line guy and Lance has got the speed to move into tight end. As far as I am concerned, I am just trying to learn the offense the best I can. As many roles as they want to give me, I'll take them.
BN: You talk about learning the offense the best you can. Do you feel that you have a pretty good grasp on the offense because you have been here for so many years and you know what's expected of you? Do you feel that there are new wrinkles now?
MT: As far as the fullback goes, you're right on that in there is more wrinkles to pick up. As far as tight end goes, I have a lot of the basics down that some of the younger guys are still working. The great thing about that is that I can focus on more of the intricate parts of the offense. Say if a receiver is off, it's not my responsibility, but I can move them up and no what he's got spur of the moment. If we're in a game, that can help us not get a penalty.
BN: You look at the fullback position, how were you approached about moving into that position?
MT: Ironically, my freshman year at spring ball, they had me taking reps at fullback. Last year in spring ball also they had me working at fullback. Billy (Rentmeester) and Chris (Pressley) had some injuries somewhere in there and whenever they were looking for an extra guy, they stuck me in there. When they decided to move me into a role that dealt with a lot of that stuff, it wasn't too much difference to me. Mainly, a lot of the pass aspect of the position was new because I had done a lot of isoblocks and what not. Throwing in the whole aspect of being a fullback is what I had to get a grasp of.
BN: Is it enjoyable for you that instead of ending the play with a catch that you start the play with a block and determine where the play goes?
MT: It is something I am relishing. It's always going to be a different guy that is the main point every play. As a tight end, you are either on one side or the other side – play side or back side. As fullback, you are pretty much always going to be in the action. Always going to be the first guy to be in contact. Having that responsibility might make some guys scared, but I love it and live in it. If I take care of what I am suppose to do, it helps the other guys to move along also.
BN: You seem like I got that loves contact and creating a little chaos?
MT: (laughing) I know that one of the main ways that I am going to get on the field is to be more physical than the guy across from. Definitely like you said, I will take contact wherever it comes from.
BN: In addition to being more physical, was the weight room a big part of your off season or what did you focus on knowing that this is your last season and you want to make that lasting impact?
MT: Like you said, weight room stuff. I feel like the whole team, Division I Wisconsin, we're going to work hard in the weight room. As far as me personally, it's the stuff that goes on outside of the weight room, like recovering or coming in and getting an extra treatment or an extra stretching in to keep my body right and not breaking down halfway through spring ball. That way I can make it through the whole thing and get better the whole time.
BN: You've seen a lot of good tight ends come through this program. Where does Garrett Graham rank in terms of physicality and toughness? It seems like he's up there on the list.
MT: I'd say so. He is one of those guys that is going to try as hard as he can on every single play. We see on film, too. We know he's got the ability, otherwise he wouldn't be out there. He goes beyond that. He's not trying to be a decent tight end. He's trying to be the best tight end, and I really appreciate that. It makes the rest of us try harder.
BN: What kind of things have you taken steps in during spring ball? Can you see a big difference in your game?
MT: You know what? The main thing I notice this year compared to previous years is my confidence. Being a senior and seeing what goes on in here day after day, I have a lot better feel of what I can do as an individual. I am not as worried about the mental aspect. I have that covered now, so I can just focus on taking the right steps physically.
BN: Confidence for a football player, is that the top thing you need to have in order for all the other things to fall into place?
MT: Talking about the previous tight ends like Travis, that was one thing about him. He was tremendously gifted as an athlete but when he stepped on the field, there was nobody that was going to keep him down. He knew that. He knew that he wasn't going to take any steps that he didn't have to take and do everything he wanted to do against the defense.
BN: How excited is this senior class that last year is behind you and you have a new, talented young group moving forward?
MT: It's too early in the season to tell, but I can see the underdog label becoming one of our identities. There are no egos on this team. It's all hard work and we don't have a huge amount of seniors or starters coming back. We do have that label and know that we are going to have to work for every thing we get. That actually makes us better, going out and try to take everything instead of just accepting it. We have to earn it all and that's going to help us.