MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Select members of the West Virginia University football team met with the media on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
On overall feel of camp
Of all the camps I’ve been involved in, this has been the most exciting one to be a part of. All of the guys want to and are ready to make plays. They’re all ready for the first game. Everything is being analyzed right now, and everyone is competing for the spots. That’s what’s important during camp.
On the starting running back position
You can’t really put a lot of your attention toward that during camp. All of these guys are great, and they have a lot of capabilities to make plays. Even if there is one starter, anybody can come in at any time and make a play. It’s not a matter of who starts the game or who plays the most time, it depends on who can do the most on the field for the team with the amount of reps they have.
I’m more physical than I’ve ever been. I’ve been working with Mike Joseph on my strength a lot. That’s what is really important to me- not only being able to run the ball, but also being able to block and make plays when I need to. That’s what I’ve been working on a lot this summer, and it showsw during camp.
On past experience
I made a lot of plays my freshman year that I’m proud of, but I don’t really look back on it a lot. I’m just trying to concentrate on what I’m doing and where I’m at right now. I was frustrated last year, but there’s a lot of talent on our backfield, and I can’t be too greedy. I just need to focus on myself and on making plays with the ball and without the ball. I really need to work on what I can do without the ball as far as pass blocking or run blocking.
On injury last year
It’s set me back. I didn’t get to finish the season. It did happen early enough to where I had the surgeries early enough to where I was able to go full on all summer long. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t take a step back after having an injury, so I think that I stayed motivated through all of it. Right now I am having good days, I feel good, and I’m ready to go.
On last season
Last year I felt a sense of being the “lost guy”, but I did a lot on special teams. I didn’t get in the defense as much, but they noticed the stuff on special teams, and that’s how I got put back on the defense.
On work ethic
If I didn’t have the work ethic that I do, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I’m doing now. Work ethic is what has gotten me here. As a player, you visualize yourself in the future, and I think that my work ethic has gotten me to where I want to be which is where I am.
On schedule this season
We have a big schedule in our weight room that says every play, every day. I try not to think too much about it right now. We have a couple weeks to get better and to just work on technique, which is what I’m doing. I’m working on my craft. We have to play the best to be the best. There are a lot of teams that we will face this year that have some great wide receivers that we know about, and some that we don’t know about. All teams have great players. It’s all about doing your job and making sure that your technique is right. I think that they will try to find our weak points, just like we try to find their weak points. We will definitely be tipped off to what kind of routes other teams run and what kind of moves they will give us at the line of scrimmage.
Guys are stepping up all over the defense. We’re taking it one day at a time. We have some good young guys that are working to be a big part of this team, and that’s really going to help as soon as the season starts.
On type of cornerback he is
Last year, I didn’t get my head around everything as much as I should have. I was more focused on where the receiver was at and what he was doing more than anything else. This camp has been helping me work on my technique. I’m getting my head around it, and I’m perfecting it. I want to get better when the ball is in the air and when it’s not. I want to be at the point where I’m very comfortable with both.
On physical fitness
I feel fast, and I feel lighter. It’s helping me with my routes, my blocking and my movement all together. I feel like I’ve been pretty good with the plays, the schemes and the overall game.
On inside/outside receiver preference
I like the outside better. I’ve been inside before. During last season, I was more inside. This year, I’ve been more outside. There’s more space, and there are more routes for the outside receiver. I feel like the blocking is better outside, too. The inside does a lot more running and different formations. Outside is more stable.
On competition at receiver position
The competition has been going well. We’re learning from each other, and we feed off of each other. We’re making plays, and I feel like it’s just a constant work toward something better. I feel like my size, and my speed combined, make me able to make plays.
On vertical passing game
I think we’re more focused on plays to the flats and to the sidelines. I feel like that’s more of how our offense works. We’re more that way, and we make more plays that way on the field. During practice we just go with what the coaches want.
On competing against the defense in practice
I think it helps a lot. Those guys are big and physical. They play with an aggressive edge on every play. (Sophomore cornerback) Daryl (Worley) presses a lot, and I think he is probably one of the best corners in the conference so going against him every day in practice is really going to help me.
On progress thus far in camp
Right now, I’m just trying to show my potential out there to everybody. I am just trying to show everybody that I can really play ball and become a team leader and player.
On how last year prepared him for this upcoming season
I was thrown in the fire last year as a true freshman, and I felt really good about the decision because I was able to experience the Big 12 speed and all the physical attributes. It just made me open up my eyes a little bit more and say okay, you got people out here still that still work a 100 percent every day. Just getting my mind right for the upcoming season.
On being called the starter for the 2013 Iowa State game
When I got the call, I was up to the challenge. I knew I could do it. I knew I was capable of making plays, but I just wanted everybody else to see that this was a good fit for this team and just hold myself accountable.
On mental adjustment as a starter
It’s kind of tough, but at the end of the day its football and you have to compete for every spot. Every day is a day to get better, and there are no giveaways or handouts. You really have to earn your spot.
On Coach DeForest’s impact
Coach DeForest is a cool, laid-back type of coach. He gets on you when you make mistakes, but at the end of the day he just wants what is best for you. That is one coach I really look up too.
Redshirt Junior Tight End/Full Back Cody Clay
On leadership role
Definitely. We just had a little leadership seminar a few weeks ago, and I took it seriously. I always tried to be a little bit more verbal. I am just naturally a quieter guy, but it is something I am going to work on.
On developing the leadership role
Really we’ve been saying that anybody can be a leader. You don’t have to be a loud guy to be a leader. You don’t have to talk all the time, you just have to be somebody that can take somebody off to the side just to tell them that they are doing fine.
On transition between tight end to full back to slot
Well I started at slot, and then they moved me to center and then back to tight end. I had a little bit of everything, so when I was moving back and forth I knew what I was doing pretty much.
On the dual position of receiver and running back
I feel like some of our meetings are just receiver meetings almost at some point. We have a lot of good running backs, so that’s something we can do. They know what they are doing back there. They have some good experience.
On the player that has stood out in the dual position at camp thus far
Sophomore (Running Back) Wendell Smallwood
is doing a real good job at that. He can catch, and he can run. He can do whatever we need him to do. (Redshirt junior running back) Andre Buie is doing the same thing.