So, not a Bosa fan?
“No, I am.”
What were your thoughts on that?
“Uh, I don’t know. It was kind of tough for me. Felt like I probably should have gotten the award, me or Chase [Winovich], but it happens. Can’t dwell on it now. It’s just the way things go sometimes.”
Were you expecting it?
“Uh…you know, kind of but…whatever.”
Do you ever think about not playing in the bowl game?
“A little bit. Still not really sure. Right now it’s just business as usual, practicing and all that type of stuff.”
So you haven’t made a decision?
“No, I haven’t.”
What’s going to go into that decision for you?
“Just, you know, speaking with my family, talking to Jake [Butt], talking to Chris [Wormley], some of the other guys that may have had a similar decision. Talking to coach Harbaugh—just trying to use all my resources to make sure that I make the best decision for myself and my family.”
[After THE JUMP: Hurst on his timeline and insurance, Karan Higdon: South Carolina fan, Kugler on next year’s O-line, and McCray on SEC speed and the 2018 defense]
Do you know when you want to have that made up?
“Probably sometime in the next two weeks [or] next week.”
Is it hard to shake what happened to Jake out of your head?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s extremely tough. Just being there and seeing him go down, it was heart wrenching just to see the emotion on his face, his family’s face and it was just so tough. It was really hard for me to watch last year.”
Do you have an insurance policy or anything like he did?
“Yeah but I know nothing about insurance. I have no idea what I signed. That’s kind of one of the issues with this whole insurance thing. I wasn’t as fortunate as Jake. You know, his dad was kind of being able to be involved in that. I can’t hire a lawyer to review my insurance policy and make sure that it’s the best one for me. I think that’s an issue that people have to focus on because being honest, I have no idea what I signed, so not really sure.”
When did you sign it?
“Beginning of the season.”
You said Jake’s dad was involved?
“Yeah, his dad’s a very smart business guy able to even go above and beyond what the university does by providing more money for extra insurance, which I’m also not in the situation to do so it’s just…it’s interesting.”
It sounds like it’s something you’re kind of going back and forth with. Is it a difficult decision for you? A lot of guys would say ‘I’m just not going to do it.’
“Yeah, I mean—”
Is it tugging on you to play?
”Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a difficult decision. It’s something that’s tough to make.”
You mentioned Rashan. Who else have you seen behind you that really looks like they could flourish next season?
“I think Lawrence [Marshall] is definitely that could come in next year and start and do some great things. He’s been probably—actually, I think he’s definitely been one of the most improved guys throughout the season. He’s been behind me so he hasn’t been able to get to display himself as much, but he’s done some really great things and he’s really starting to come out there and do some really nice things. He made the transition from outside to inside so he’s an athletic guy. He’s been able to be very productive in practice.”
A lot of people would say Cesar’s probably going to move over to your spot, right?
“You never know. Stephen Spanellis has been playing great. He’s been our big tight end this year; he’s a strong, physical guy. I wouldn’t say really any position is—every position’s up in the air right now. Obviously I think Ben [Bredeson] will obviously start; he’s been a two-year starter here. Other than that, I’d say everything’s probably going to be up in the air and I’m excited to see how it all pans out.”
You’ve talked about Mason a lot this year. What does it say about him that he’s going to play center or guard in the NFL and to technically play out of position, what does that say about him?
“He’s our team captain and he proved that. He’s going to do whatever he can, what’s best for the team. Obviously he’s a better center than me; he was last year. He’s our best lineman. He’s probably our best player on the team—it not, Mo Hurst. It just shows the character that he has to be able to put himself second and put the team first, and that’s the kind of guy you want on your team.”
Is your ankle pretty much healed up?
“Yeah, I’m good, I’m good. 100% ready to go and ready to take on South Carolina.”
What were you in the Ohio State health-wise? What percent?
“About 70, 65-70 percent.”
How hard was it to run on that?
“It’s hard but with the atmosphere, the big game, and the focus on the game, it all went out the window. I was feeling 100%.”
Does this mean a little more to you playing in your home state?
“Yeah, you get to go back home, play where you grew up, play in front of your family and friends, coaches who may not get a chance to come out here to the Big House, so it’s very big for me personally.
“I also was a fan of South Carolina when I was in high school, it’s interesting that I’m on the other side now.”
Why were you a fan of them?
“I just loved them. I had a close friend who went there and then I had some kids in my local area that went there. Ace Sanders was one. I was close friends with his cousin and we watched South Carolina a lot. I grew to like them. I visited there a couple of times and I liked South Carolina. They didn’t offer me and now I’m playing against them, so…I’m back.”
How long were you a fan of them? Until you came here? Did you root for them through high school?
“About two years. About two years I was a fan of them. Just how it goes.”
They didn’t offer you. That was an offer I assume you were clamoring for?
“Yeah, I wanted that offer pretty bad. Pretty bad. Didn’t get it and moved on from it.”
What would have happened if you would have—
“I would have went. I would have went. [laughs] My mind was made. I would have went. I would have went.”
So the appeal was because you had a friend there? Is that what you liked so much about it?
“Yeah, I had friends there. I loved Marcus Lattimore and the way he ran, so I watched him a lot. Ace Sanders, he played at Manatee High School so I watched him play and then we grew to play against them and I watched him as he went on to South Carolina and I just liked what they were doing. I liked what Steve Spurrier was doing and what he had going on.”
You wouldn’t have minded playing for the ol’ ball coach?
“No. My head coach played and was very familiar with him. He played at Florida, so he gave me some words about him and I liked the style.”
So were you cheering when Jadeveon Clowney—
“I was, I was. And now me and Vincent [Smith] are cool so I’m like ‘Dang.’ I was, I was, and that was the year I had just visited there. They had played Florida. They actually played Florida at South Carolina and then they played in the bowl game, the Outback Bowl, and that happened. I was like ‘Gollee.’ I had saw Jadeveon at the game when I was visiting. I was like, this is a huge dude and then he does that.”
When you watch that play did you just see the helmet explode off his head…
“I was just like, Jesus, he’s a freak of nature. Like, he’s a real freak of nature. There isn’t anything Vincent could have done differently. It was completely out of his control and unfortunately he was at the bottom of the [inaudible].”
But what about Vincent? Vincent jumped right back up.
“Yeah, he jumped right up. I think that’s the Florida in him. Florida players don’t stay down, so I like that.”
Did you ever tell Vincent that you were cheering for him to get hit like that?
“Never. Never. So when you guys post this…[crosstalk].”
Have you had a chance to look at much film yet on South Carolina?
“I have on my own but as a team we’ve been focusing on just focusing on us right now, getting better, different position drills and things like that. From what I’ve seen they’re a pretty good team. Athletic, fast team, so another good challenge for us.”
When you see Bentley on film, what does he do for their offense?
“He’s really good. Like I said, I haven’t watched a lot [but] I’ve watched some. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes from what I’ve seen. Makes the right passes and like I said, they’re an athletic team, fast, and you can see he’s the leader of the offense. He does a really good job for them.”
When they talk about SEC Speed and things like, do you feel like you need to prove yourselves against them?
“I wouldn’t say ‘prove.’ We know what we’re capable of. We know we’re a fast defense and a fast team as a whole. I think that’s just outside people looking in kind of saying that, but, uh, come game time, hopefully we can shut some of those people up.”
What did you guys think as a defense when you saw that Bosa got that award over [Hurst]?
“Uh, we talked about it a little bit but, uh…I don’t want to talk about what we talked about. But you can’t really dwell on it. It’s over now, you can’t change anything, just go out and show ‘em why you should have been it is really what we talked about.”
This time last year a lot of the guys who were leaving, graduating seniors, they said this defense would be more athletic than they were last year [and] would be better. How do you look at the ‘18 defense?
“For next year? I feel like they’re a lot better now because we were pretty young. They all have game experience now. Come next year they’ll be able to play a lot faster. They’ve seen a lot this year and they’re only losing me and Mo and we don’t know about Chase but other than that everybody’s coming back so I feel like they might be better than this year and last year’s defense.”