[Craig Roh and Will Campbell transcripts will be up later today.]
from 2011 OSU
How different is it playing at center full time now?
“It’s not that much different. I played center coming in as a freshman when [Rich] Rod was here. It’s not really a transition, just getting back into the groove of things. I don’t really see it as a transition.”
What’s the hardest part of it?
“The hardest part would be trying to learn the defense, when they’re rotating, when their safeties are kicking down, when they’re rolling. That’s just the hardest part of learning it right now. But other than that the plays are pretty simple. Everything’s going well.”
How comfortable do you feel in that position?
“I feel very comfortable. I mean I like it. I always wanted to play it. We had a talented center, though, so I’m now getting my shot. I like it a lot.”
Why did you always want to play it?
“I always wanted to play center because I was told I was a natural center.”
Because of your frame?
“I don’t know. Coaches just tell me all the time.”
Did you play center in high school?
“I played my freshman year, and then I moved to guard and then I moved to tackle by my senior year.”
Denard said that you’ve been working together since his freshman year. Do you feel like you two have good chemistry?
“Yeah it’s a good chemistry because both of us are from Florida. He’s like my brother. I’m like his big brother. We definitely care about each other a lot. All I can say is that there’s a brotherhood between me and him.”
Have you been talking to Molk about playing center?
“Yes I always talk to Molk. Molk is another person that’s like a brother to me. He took me underneath his wing when I came in as a freshman. I’ve talked to him and he’s tried to give me tips to help me.”
Pretty big shoes to fill, huh?
“I don’t see it as pretty big shoes to fill because this is Michigan. When a class graduates everybody has to step up, not just one person.”
Still, he was the Rimington Award winner. Do you think you’ll win the Rimington?
“… If it’s God willing.”
(more after the jump)
How’s your chemistry with Patrick Omameh and Elliott Mealer?
“It’s really good. Me and Patrick and Elliott have known each other for five years now. We came in together. We suffered together. We’ve been through a lot of growing pains. We really believe in a brotherhood here, so we really have good chemistry.”
What has Elliott done to move into the role of left guard?
“Elliott has done a lot. He’s competing. He’s bringing energy. He’s willing to learn like the rest of us. He just brings a lot to the table.”
Did you see anything from him last year that made you think that he could start this year?
“There’s a lot of stuff Elliott did. Elliott could have been a starter. We had him at right tackle behind Mark Huyge. I really couldn’t say he could play guard because he was a right tackle at the time.”
What was it like suffering through all those injuries last season? Was it challenging?
“I don’t see it as challenging. We went 11-2.”
For you personally, I mean.
“For me personally? I’m a very strong-minded person so I really didn’t feel down. I knew Schofield would do a good job and he did. Schofield brought a lot to the table as well, and I just enjoyed watching him while I healed both of my ankles.”
Can you point to a common theme in your injuries?
“No, honestly I can’t. Honestly I can’t. I think I have to move my feet a little better so I can’t get rolled up. That’s just my personal thought.”
Are you going to train differently in order to try to avoid injury?
“I’m trying to rehab with the trainers every day. Wellman does a good job. We do a bunch more ankle flexes, interior and exterior stuff with our ankles. Wellman does his job because I have to do my job.”
You mentioned ankle rolling. Is that how you got your injuries?
“Yes, sir. Just not moving my feet, standing up in a hold. That’s what happens to linemen.”
When you got hurt last year, did you think you’d have a chance to win your job back?
“I never thought I lost the job. It was just a matter of me getting healthy. We compete every day. Coach Hoke [says] there’s no starters. It could be five different starters next week, then another five different starters the next week. I never really thought I lost the job completely. It was just a matter of time with getting healthy.”
Is Jack Miller pushing you or do you feel like this is your job to lose?
“Jack Miller is very talented. He’s going to be a great offensive center here in a couple of years. We compete every day. He pushes me, I push him. We just work together as one.”
Do you feel like this is your job to lose, though?
“If I lose the job, it’ll be because of me. Probably my fault.”
Have any of the defensive tackles been giving you problems in practice?
“Will Campbell is definitely a talent. He’s 6-5, 318. I really don’t get to face many nose guards in the Big Ten that big. Will pushes me every day to get better. I push him every day to get better. It goes back and forth.”
What have you seen from him in terms of consistency?
“Will has been doing good. Personally I think he’s doing good. He keeps working hard. He keeps doing the right things he needs to do. In terms of consistency, he just needs to work a lot more harder and keep working.”
Has this spring been any different than last spring now that the coaches have been here for a year?
“Yes, sir. They expect a lot more out of us instead of the first year we were just getting to know the offense. But not this year. They expect a lot more out of us and for a lot of us to step up.”
A lot of linemen had to gain weight last season. Is that something you’re looking to do this season?
“Yes, sir. Gaining weight is a big emphasis here. A lot of our linemen have to gain weight and stay healthy.”
How much weight are you looking to gain?
“Probably about 10 more pounds, five more pounds.”
What are you at now?
“I’m at 297.”
How are you going to gain that weight?
“Continue to eat healthy, continue to lift, continue to run. I want to look 300 pounds healthy, not 300 pounds sloppy.”
Where were you at last season?
“Before I got hurt or after I got hurt?”
The lowest point.
“I was 294. That was my lowest point. But after I got hurt I was 300.”
Have you ever looked 300 pounds sloppy?
“I don’t think I’ve ever looked 300 pounds sloppy.”
Lewan: "I'm so tired!"
How you feeling?
“Feeling good, you know. Six practices in. This time last year I had a dislocated elbow, so I feel like this is a jump.”
How different is this overall versus last year?
“I think everyone’s way more excited. I know that’s kind of weird to say. This has been the first year I’ve been here that we’ve had major success as a program, and I think it’s really cool to see the younger guys knowing that this is the standard now for Michigan football. It has been in the past, but we haven’t really had that. It’s really cool to see guys go out there and really wanting to go out and hit and compete.”
Hoke has said he relies on his upperclassmen for leadership. Now that you’ve grown comfortable with the schemes, are you able to coach some of the younger guys a little bit?
“Well I think it’s never really changed. Obviously this team plays for our seniors. The coaches coach for our seniors. But I think a lot of guys have been stepping up as leaders, doing a great job -- obviously you’re going to ask me about Ricky Barnum. Ricky Barnum’s doing a phenomenal job. The whole offensive line is doing a phenomenal job from what I’ve been seeing. I’m trying to step up as a leader also.”
“I’m a junior now. This is my third year starting if it goes the way I want it to. I think I have a lot of guys behind me and around that are looking to see what I’m going to do now. It’s no longer me learning. My freshman year I had Steve Schilling. My sophomore year I had Dave Molk teaching me things, and now I’m kind of that guy. It’s my turn to start being that leader because I know the ropes and I know what to do, and a huge part of my gameplan this year is to lead by example.”
What do you mean by that?
“I’m not a huge get-in-your-face kind of guy with that kind of stuff. If someone messes up, coaches yelling at them or something -- [I would] pull them aside and tell them what they did wrong. Instead of stepping here, step here. Real small stuff. You got a 3-technique [defensive lineman], if it’s a downblock, take this step instead of this step. Going to a linebacker -- there’s different ways you approach different blocks.”
How is Michael Schofield faring at right tackle?
“Well you know our freshman year, our first two years here, Schofield played right tackle and he did a great job. I think he’s definitely picked up where he left off. Great guy. Great player. He’s getting more aggressive every single day.”
How are you going to be a better left tackle this year?
“Keep doing what I’ve been doing hopefully. Definitely cut down on penalties. I think I had maybe one or two personal fouls last year. Maybe get those out of here completely. Play more aggressive and sound technique-wise. There’s always something to work on as an offensive lineman. If it was easy everybody would do it.”
With the leadership thing, do you have to change how you act sometimes?
“Absolutely. When I came in here I was 17 years old. Now I’m 20. I’ve definitely grown up as a player, as a person -- the whole mustache thing is out the window. I’m here to play football, not here to joke around.”
Wait, did you get the tattoo removed?
“No. That’s staying in. But that’s definitely not what I’m looking for anymore. I’m no longer trying to be a funny guy. I know what this team’s about. I know what this team wants. I know what the coaches want. I know there’s an expectation for me, and I want to exceed every expectation there is for me.”
Is that going to be hard for you?
“I mean, it’s always hard to exceed expectations, right?”
As far as just not being funny.
“When you make those choices, you understand this is a team and a lot of people are looking to you and seeing what you’re going to do. That’s not too tough for me to do.”
Is that from you or did someone sit you down and say it’s time for you to step up.
“Oh, no. I think it was definitely [from me]. If someone tells you to do something, you’re going to do it because they told you to do it. But if you make that choice, you’re going to do it better than if someone told you to do it.”
Do you think people understand the coaches’ expectations better than they did last year?
“Absolutely. I think there’s a different mood. Coach Wellman said based on where he thinks the team is at, he’s going to coach us a certain way. You can talk to him about that, but I think they changed what they’re going to do based on how we’re doing. If we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, not competing as much … We understand what we’re supposed to do now. We get it and we picked it up at the end of the year, and now I think the sky’s the limit if we do everything we’re supposed to do.”
Who else can play tackle?
“We have a couple guys. We have Christian Mateus, Graham Glasgow. We have Elliott Mealer who we’ll move at tackle once in a while. Schofield jumping around at right and left tackle. We have numbers at certain places, but we have a mix and match kind of thing … Hopefully nobody gets hurt.”
Does that put more pressure on you knowing that you’re the only experience guy at your position?
“No. I mean, obviously there’s pressure everywhere we go, right? I talked about trying to exceed expectations. There’s pressure there, but the biggest way to not do what I’m supposed to do is by worrying about those kinds of things. Worried about getting hurt. Worried about not doing the right technique. Keep playing the way I play and kind of keep a short memory of everything. If I get beat on one thing, let it go. Move on.”
Brady said Will Campbell’s stepped up as a leader, too. What’s he been doing for the defensive line?
“Will’s bringing a whole bunch of energy. Not just with his mouth but with his play also. He’s always there in somebody’s ear. Beating everybody. Getting off the ball. Using the right technique. He’s doing a great job listening to the coaches and what they want him to do. I think the whole defensive line: Craig Roh, Will Campbell, Jibreel Black … there’s not a lot of followers on this team. A lot of leadership, but there’s key leaders that people look to.”
Has Will matured, too?
“Absolutely. This whole team has.”
How are Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer doing at WDE?
“I think they’re doing great. They’re sometimes a hassle for me. I’m not going to lie. They’re quick guys that get off the ball and know what they’re doing. Phenomenal technique for younger guys.”
Have they ever beaten you in drills?
“Of course. I get beat all the time. I mean, that happens, right?”
How is Ricky’s chemistry with Denard?
“Good. It’s not just like when Molk was here, we were just like, ‘All right, nobody touch Denard but Molk.’ Everbody would take snaps with Denard all the time. Joey Burzynski’s been taking snaps also. There’s all these guys all over the place. Jack Miller. Everyone’s taking snaps with Denard. So when Molk left, it’s not like it’s uncomfortable for Denard, because he’s been taking snaps with all these guys. The chemistry’s pretty good.”
Let me just summarize the last five minutes of the interview like so:
Keeps to himself in the locker room … Only says things when they need to be said … Likes listening to country music to stay mellow, also John Mayer and Jack Johnson … Knows how to power through injuries and ignore pain … Up to 308 pounds, wants to be between 310 and 315 for the season … Still a funny guy at heart despite toning it down recently … Rides around Ann Arbor in a tandem bike, aka a “Two-sie” … Likes to “carpool” on the bike with Drew Dileo and Chris Brown (not at the same time) … Got the bike a couple weeks ago from a place on North Campus … Always wanted a tandem bike.