One of the parts of this job I enjoy is getting close to athletes and seeing them grow not only as players but as people. I consider myself one of the lucky reporters because I get to see many stories play out from the beginning (when they are just teenagers hoping a reporter will get their name in the paper) to the times when the make their first big plays on the field at The U to the day the get drafted and their dreams come true. I've got to enjoy those experiences with guys like Roscoe Parrish, Frank Gore, Sean Taylor, Andre Johnson and many others over the years.
Although my deepest relationships are forged with local athletes, mainly the Miami-Dade and Broward kids, I try everytime I go out to UM to not just speak to the Right Now guys like many reporters do. I try to talk everyone, meet them as a person first and then ask the athletic questions. After all, these are people. And they deserve to be treated so. I know I've gone off on a bit of tangent, but I wanted to share my philosophy with you in the way I gather my information as a reporter. I may not get all the scoops -- that's really a matter of luck in my eyes -- but I feel like I do get to know an athlete as a person and have the honor of telling their complete story in a fair matter.
With that said, I never want to get to a point in this profession where I stop giving you information straight from their lips. So, I've decided that part of my blog -- aside from the longer Q&As -- will be to give you quick glimpses on what's going on with particular players and let you hear it in their own words. With camp rapping up Tuesday, I realized I had a ton of interviews you would probably have liked to have heard with your own ears. So, I've compiled a quick compilation and plan to share it with you on Eye on The U. As the year progresses, I'll make this a weekly or bi-weekly feature so you can hear it In Their Own Words. My first three interviews came late last week with running back Graig Cooper, Lance Leggett and Derrick Morse following the team's second scrimmage. If you would like to hear the actual interviews, click on the links near each name.
Q: Can you talk about J and the backfield duties? I mean are there times when both of you are in there at the same time?
A: Me and J. We make plays and we have a few when we’re in there at the same time. But we’re not selfish. We don’t mind when it comes time to let the other one in. We just compliment each other.
Q: But are there plays where he’s doing more of the inside running and your doing more of the outside running? Or is it a general mix?
A: No. It’s a general mix. J’s not slow now. He’s not slow now. J can run inside and outside. There is no basic running for him.
Q: As far as your involvement in the passing game, have you been catching a lot of balls in camp? Are you going to be catching balls out of the backfield or has it just been running the ball?
A: I mean, everybody is catching the ball out of the backfield. I just got a couple plays I line up at slot and probably catch the ball, but it’s no, I’m not the only one catching the ball.
Q: I know you’ve had some frustrating moments in your career. Do you feel different coming into your senior season?
Q: What have coaches told you they expect from you?
A: They just tell me to go out and play my game. They don’t put no pressure on me because they know how I am. I get pressure on me, I get down on myself. I feel I have to make every catch. That’s with any receiver. But I get down on myself, but I’m usually making plays. And if I don’t make that play, I feel like I let everybody down.
Q: Do you feel like that’s been your biggest hurdle? The biggest task for you to overcome?
A: Oh yeah. That’s what it basically was. But Coach Shannon helped me out.
Q: What did he do?
A: He just talked to me. That’s one thing about Coach Shannon. He talks to you like a father. Anytime you want to talk to Coach Shannon, just go into his office. He’s just like when he was the defensive coordinator. He helped me out when he was the defensive coordinator, before he was the head coach. I used to talk to Coach Shannon. He used to help me out. He was like a father figure to me.
Q: Has there been a point now, where the light bulb has gone on for you?
A: Of course. It just a lot of stuff. There’s not really one time that stuck out. But everything he tells me, it stays in.
Q: I know he tries to do a lot with movies, motivation? Did he do anything special with you?
A: No. He just said Lance, no pressure. Just go out and play your game.
Q: I know there’s a battle going on at right tackle with Reggie Youngblood and Chris Rutledge? What do you think?
A: Well, no. They’re just rotating with Fox. All three tackles, they’re great players. They’re keeping fresh -- especially against the ends in this conference -- if you can have a rotation like that, keep guys fresh and have tread on their tires at the end of the season, that’s what can take us all the way.
Q: I know you’ve been getting rotated a lot from center to guard. How is that rotation going for you?
A: Actually, it’s funny, I’m getting a lot more experience at center in case I have to play there this season. And like I said, but I’m playing both right now just guard and center. So, learning both positions only helps me with the offense and learning and all the positions. It benefits me and everybody else who is switching around. Bain’s going left guard to right guard and so, he’s learning those position. And I’m learning right guard and center positions. We got a 3 or 4 rotations at tackle and some depth.
Q: I’ve got to ask you about Orlando Franklin because he’s kind of the new guy that has blown some guys away as a freshman. What do you think about him?A: He’s came in this camp and done an awesome job for us and he’s a true freshman. He’s really picked up the offense well and plays hard. That’s what the coaches are looking for and that’s what we’re looking for as a team to get better and like I said, it’s not just the tackles that have the rotation. It’s the guards too. We got three guards now. Joel Figueroa too. We need guys to switch in and out and not have a drop out all year.
Q: I was going to ask you about Tyler Horn and Harland Gunn?
A: Tyler Horn has come in and done an excellent job at center. Harland Gunn, he’s good, but he needs to learn a little bit. But it’s a new offense. As long as he learns the offense, he’s going to be a great player.
Q: Defensively, on the other side, who are the guys making the big plays?
A: Our ends are second to none. Eric Moncur and Calais Campbell are beasts and our d-tackles stepped up and really played good. We really needed them too. We have some injuries and stuff where those guys are getting the most of the reps.