Rookie Diary

It was a long road this summer because it was just a long camp in general. It was about five weeks and it was long. The mental stress of knowing your plays and not knowing your plays was tough, but we made it through.

As camp ends, I'd say that I'm pretty good in the mental part of it all, but I can't say that I'm 100 percent there. They throw stuff at you every day and you have to know it by practice. As a result, you're really never 100 percent. I'm good right now, learning all the time.

On the physical side, it came along really well for me. I picked up mostly on the speed of the game. There's no question that game speed and practice speed are very different. Now that I have a few preseason games under my belt, I've gotten acclimated to the speed of the game. But now when the regular season starts, I'll have to pick it up even another notch.

It's neat here because we have all the fans out watching our practices. That was different from Penn State where Joe (Paterno) wouldn't let anyone watch us practice. To have fans out there is pretty cool.

Our college camp was a lot tougher physically. Joe is an old-school coach so he had us banging every day. After that camp our bodies were done. Camp up here, I don't want to say it's a little more laidback because we still bang a lot, but it's definitely a lot more mental at this level. At the end of this camp my body doesn't feel as bad as it did coming out of college camp.

The easiest thing for me so far has been my ability to adjust to the speed. I think I picked that up pretty quickly. Coach (Larry) Johnson had us running around so much down there that coming here and doing the same thing was a little easier. The hardest thing, though, is the playbook. That thing is huge and it's intimidating, almost. You have to know everything. It's tough because as a rookie, you don't want to mess up. You have to keep studying and studying to make sure you know what you're supposed to do at all times.

Camp wasn't too bad as far as being a rookie – until the very end. Late in camp they were threatening to tape me to the goalpost, but thankfully that never happened. Some of the guys did get into my room and mess with me a little one night. I was in bed and next thing you know I had water and flour all over me. They got me pretty good. I was supposed to sing and I didn't, even though I had sung a couple of times already.

I sung twice and they wanted me to sing again and I was procrastinating and by the time I got up it was time for our meeting to start. My first song was R. Kelly's "I believe I can fly" and my second was "This little light of mine." I did well and got applauses. That's why they kept asking me to go back up there. I should have blown a song so they wouldn't keep asking me to go up there.

This season I want to have at least six sacks; I definitely want to do that. I want to get a decent amount of plays this year. I want to get in there and get my feet wet. I just want to get out there and play, pretty much.

Right now starting is not really all that important to me. If it happens, it happens. But right now I'm good with that because I'm just a rookie. I don't even really know how the game goes yet. I'm still learning. Fred (Robbins) is in there and he's been teaching me a lot of the tricks of the trade. I don't mind just playing behind him and learning off him.

He showed me different ways to defeat blocking schemes. One way is to change my stance up a little bit. At Penn State, it was more run and gun; they just wanted us to mess stuff up in the backfield. Now that I have to play the run a little better Fred told me to square up my feet a little more so that I have a better base. They seem like just little things, but those little things count for a lot.

When I first saw the new guys we signed I was like, ‘wow, this is unreal.' These are two of the biggest dudes I have ever seen in my life. I talked to Tui (Alailefaleula) and asked him how much he weighed. He said he was 370. I was shocked. So then I asked him what his playing weight was and he said around 340 or 345. I said, ‘that is ridiculous.' But Manny (Wright) and Tui are two cool dudes.

I've also been doing the snapping for field goals and PATs. The snapping has been going really well for me as well. It's a lot different from college because you're not just throwing the ball back there. You have to be a lot more precise. It's going well. Jeff Feagles (the holder) is teaching me a lot about it. Since Ryan (Kuehl) is still hurt, I guess it's my job.

As for my boys at Penn State, I think we have a chance to win the championship. And I'm not talking about the Big Ten championship; I'm talking about the big one. We're coming in ranked 17th. At the end of last year, (Anthony) Morelli was looking real good. In our bowl game he really stepped it up as a quarterback. I think Penn State's going to be great this year.

On a personal level, things are different for me now when I go back home. The same people around Orange (N.J.) went from saying ‘hey, what's up?' to ‘hey Mr. Alford, can I have your autograph?' It's only a few months difference but it changed just like that. It's a little different now but it's cool.

As for this season, I'm just going to continue to work hard and hopefully I'll get a lot of playing time and do well this year. I'm crazy excited to get this year underway. It's the NFL; it doesn't get any bigger than this. I can't wait to just to go out there and put that uniform on. I can't wait. I can't wait.

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