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AUSTIN — Some soundbites from the players and coaches heading into the 2018 season, from Tom Herman, Kris Boyd, Charles Omenihu, Malcolm Roach, Yancy McKnight, and Sam Ehlinger.
What are your thoughts going into your second season at the University of Texas?
“I’ve never been more excited to coach a football team. It’s like Christmas in August.”
You stayed for your senior year. Coach McKnight says you have 1st round NFL talent. What does that mean to you?
“I just want to be successful in my program and leave a legacy with my teammates. I couldn’t leave without showing everybody what we’ve been pushing for and what we’ve been going through so it can all pay off one day. It was pretty much for my teammates. We had a winning season in 2017, but it wasn’t what we wanted. I couldn’t end it like that. I’ve got to show Longhorn Nation we are about to be back rolling. I came back to give it all I’ve got, and now I’ll get my teammates to do the same.”
What does it mean to finish games?
“That’s when the love for your brothers kicks in.”
Without Deshon Elliott and Holton Hill, do you think this DB group can be better?
“We’re getting better and better everyday.”
(Continued) I know you think that…
“No, we know that.”
How big has CB coach Jason Washington been for you?
“Probably the best thing to ever happen to me. If you like at how I was when I was younger, with my technique, and then you look at certain games. Not only me, but Davante (Davis), Holton (Hill), Josh (Thompson), you see our technique, feet, eye discipline, and last season; from the first six games to the last six games, it was all me and (Washington). I’ve never improved that fast in my life. But with him, it clicked. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s the man with a plan.”
How do you approach and affect the durability of your quarterbacks?
“You come in and you’ve basically got two guys on scholarship (Shane and Sam). Shane had some rib and shoulder stuff he was dealing with, and Sam had some hip issues he dealt with coming out of his senior year in high school, so he was banged up too. Obviously you’ve got two guys at a very important position, you’ve got to ‘kid glove’ those guys at all times, but you also have to get them stronger. We feel pretty good about those guys and their strength gains and lean mass. Both guys have gotten bigger, but they are leaner with their body composition too. Shane is carrying 210, Sam is a solid 228. Then the two young guys coming in early gives them such a huge advantage, not just physically but mentally.”
Coach Herman says you and him are soulmates. True?
“We’re like brothers. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t, and that’s a really good thing.”
What does it say about a coach (Todd Orlando) that seems to always have you in the best possible position to succeed?
“To me, it sounds like he doesn’t sleep a lot. For real. But seriously, that’s just a thing you want (as a player). You can tell that he’s getting prepared to put us in the best possible situation we can be in. That’s all you can ask for from a coach.”
How many different positions have you played at Texas?
“Let’s see…all of the Front 7. So seven positions.”
Coming in not really rated as high as some of the rest of the C/O 2015, where would you say you are today compared to your first step on the 40 Acres?
“I’m much smarter. Being smarter is when you become better. You understand how to play your position, you understand how things work for you. I’m 10x times better than when I came in. I’ve developed and gotten better each year, and I believe that’s proven by the tape from my freshman through my junior year. Just with the work I’ve put in, I’ve put in good work and so I expect good results. I came in 6-foot-4, 230. I’m now 6-foot-6, 270. And I’m not done. I’m still 20 (years old). From where I came from and started, to now, is just a blessing.”
You decided to stay for your senior year after an opportunity to leave early for the NFL. Why?
“A lot of it had to do with just the development, mentally and physically. And I felt like I had plays I left on the field that I feel this season I won’t. I have a better understanding of how to play the position completely, the ends and outs of the spot, and how things work for us as a team and myself. And honestly, I want to win. Winning the Texas Bowl was good, but I want to win on the big stage and complete my mission in Austin.”
What does it mean to be a leader?
“Being a leader entails everything. How you live your life, on and off the field. How you bring people together and treat others.”
From digesting that playbook last year, that can be really complex, to now, what’s difference in your 2nd season in the offense and having the same system?
“The continuity was huge. I think last year I was trying to understand where guys would be, and understand the route concepts, and understand each individual play…now I know those plays, and understand where they’ll be, and now it’s taking the playbook to the next level to ‘what play to we want to be in with each defense we see’. The college game is a crazy level and you’ve got a lot of great defensive coordinators that are throwing crazy stuff at you. So when you’re just trying to understand yourself, it’s really tough to be successful. But when you know yourself, and you’re going against somebody, and you’re basically playing chess out on the field, that’s when we can take it to another level.”