How are the Braves going to do in the playoffs?
Oh, my goodness. We got the Dodgers. They’re an aging baseball team, but we’re playing pretty good. We just got Jason Heyward back, and they’ve been playing pretty good. Hopefully this is the year. It’s Chop City. That’s the thing down there. Fear the Chop.
What about the Falcons?
It’s not looking good this year. I thought last year we had a great chance. We just need to get it together. Roddy White has been dinged up. Julio Jones was gimpy (against the New England Patriots). They’re a good football team. They have the talent.
You a Tony Gonzalez fan?
I am. It was amazing to watch him against the Patriots the other day because on that last drive they had three people on Tony Gonzalez. I was like, “My goodness.”
Are there going to be three defenders lined up on you against Nebraska?
I’m not that valuable. They may not guard me at all. They may think, “Just let him run around a bit.”
How do you view your role on this team on the field?
In my position group, I feel like I’m the mesh that holds everything together. We have so much talent in that room that we each specialize in different things. I’m kind of that broad spectrum-type guy. Matt (LaCosse) is the super-athletic, tall guy that can run, jump and really stretch the field vertically. JD (Jon Davis) is our ball-in-hands expert, running with the ball, catching and stuff like that. I don’t want to say I’m the physical presence, but I definitely do a lot more of the blocking and the intermediate stuff. If you combine us all together, we’re a pretty great package.
How do you view your role on this team away from the field?
I am the jokester. I hope to think everybody thinks I’m funny. I try to have a good personality. I like to be around everybody. I try to mix in with different people. I’ve always been that way. I was voted “Most Humorous” in high school, so I try to carry that on. I just like being around my teammates. I love coming to practice every day and seeing these guys. I like hanging out with them off the field, and we go to different places. It’s amazing.
What was the reaction like from people in Woodstock, Ga., when you decided to play at Illinois?
They said, “So, you’re going to Chicago?” I’d say, “No, I’m going to Champaign, Illinois.” They’d say, “So, do you go to Chicago a lot?” Then I’d have to say, “No, it’s about two hours away.” Not a lot of people knew about Illinois, but that was OK with me. I have no problem traveling away from home. That’s never been a big deal with me. I make friends easily, but they still support me all the way back home.
Do you fly when you go back home to Georgia or drive?
What’s it going to be like being on a plane for the first time this season?
I’m OK with planes. I know some guys on the team that are really scared of planes, but I’m not going to call them out. I like flying. I like just traveling and seeing new places.
You’re a big guy. Are the beds big enough for you on road trips?
They are. And they’re comfy. Much more comfortable than the bed at my apartment.
How nice has this season been so far?
It’s great just to have that feeling back, almost like it was my sophomore year, but with a little more focus. I feel like we let one slip away against Washington. This team is really focused on getting better, and not just about winning games, but let’s make sure we’re a better football team than we were the previous Saturday.
What was your first impression of Bill Cubit?
He’s like a mad scientist. He’s crazy. Some of the stuff he comes up with, I really think he’s joking. During practice, I think he’ll just be playing around. He’ll go, “OK, we’re going to put him there, him there and him there, and we’re going to call it this.” I’m like, “We’re just messing around, right?” He goes, “No, we might run this Saturday.” He’s so football smart that it’s almost scary.
What is it like having all the formations he’s thrown at you guys this season?
You’ve got to be on your P’s and Q’s. He’s all about being prepared and not really knowing what we’re going to do to them, but how they’re going to react to us. That’s why we try to keep everybody off balance by using different formations and different personnel. It’s amazing to hear him speak about his philosophy on the game.
How close were you to the goal post on that touchdown catch last Saturday?
I was actually really scared, now that I think about it. If I was a few more yards to the right, I thought I might have hit the backstop of the goal post, and that would have been bad. Luckily I didn’t hit my head on the bottom of it.
If you could celebrate a TD, what would be your signature move?
The dunk over the goal post. I’ve always wanted to do that. All the great tight ends do it. Plus, I wish I was a good basketball player.
So you’re not good at basketball?
I get asked that question a lot on campus. “Do you play basketball?” I have to tell them that I play it sometimes at the ARC. I wish to say I was a great basketball player, but I was OK.
What’s the future hold for you if you’re not on an NFL roster next year?
I graduate in December. Hopefully do some (public relations) work for a sporting goods company. I just like the way they market to athletes. Being an athlete, I know I can help improve on that.
Who’s your dream date?
A night on the town with Eva Mendes or three touchdowns and a win against Nebraska?
Three touchdowns and a win against Nebraska. I always will love football more than I love girls. And football will easily love me back.