I think Chase is really going to be a solid player for us. He has gotten bigger, he's gotten stronger, and again, he was a sophomore last year, who played offensive line as a freshman, so really he was playing defensive line, as a freshman, if you want to look it that way. I saw improvement in Chase as the year went on and I saw his confidence grow. To me so much playing of this game is a confidence thing. He became more aggressive and I just saw his confidence grow each week. In this off-season he's gotten bigger, he's gotten stronger, I've talked with him a few times and he is very excited about the spring. He's been there now; he knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he has to do to be a ACC defensive lineman at this level because he has been there now for twelve games. I think he is going to have a great spring and I think he is going to be a really solid player for us in the fall.
With both High and Page you mentioned the confidence factor, there were some games that come to mind last year when it seemed the defense looked like they had things going, but then when they had some adversity, things snowballed on them. Is that a confidence thing?
I think some of it has to do with confidence. When you have a young group of guys out there, and all of a sudden, they face some adversity and they don't know quite how to handle it. I think the older you get, the more poise you have when you're hit with adversity and you know how to handle it, you've been there before. You know what you need to do to put the fire out. Hopefully from this last year's experience, we'll be able to use that to our advantage in that "we've been there now, and here's what we need to do," and I think that will be to our advantage this year on defense.
Has there been a decision about which side of the ball Madison Hedgecock and Jonas Seawright will play?
Jonas will be with us for the start of spring on defense, and Madison will be back to offense.
There are some red-shirt frosh joining the defense this spring on the defensive line? We don't know much about those kids yet –
Sure, and neither do we (laughs), so we're on the same playing field there. You've got Brian Rackley, Alden Blizzard, Xavier Rainey, and you've got Mickey Rice. All four of those kids were red-shirted and got a taste a little bit over there on the scout field versus our offense and have worked really hard this off-season in the weight room. I'm anxious to get out on the field and see what they bring to the table. Right now, it is really an unknown factor. I don't know where they'll fit right now, but I am very excited about all four of those kids and hopefully all four can contribute to our defense.
We talked about how tough it was on Kendall High to play as a true freshman on the defensive line, how difficult is it come from high school and play that close to the football on the defensive line?
I think it is difficult, because everything is happening so much faster, people are bigger, people are stronger, but I think possibly there are a couple of those kids that can help us, you know, Isaiah Thomas, you know he is big, big, kid that could come in and help us. But I think it is very difficult to come in and play that close to the ball because the speed of the game is going to be so much faster for them than it was at the high school level, and the size and the strength of people. Hopefully we will be able to find a couple of those kids that might be able to help us this year like Kendall did for us this past year. But we will see when those kids arrive here this fall, and where they are at.
There are some linemen that could play on either side of the ball coming in this freshman class, which ones will start out on the defensive side of the ball?
Shelton Bynum, Kyndraus Guy, Donnell Livingston, Khalif Mitchell, Kenny Price, and Isaiah Thomas will start out on defense when they get here in the fall. Charleston Gray and Scott Lenahan are the only two who will start out on the offensive line.
After we go through fall camp and evaluate them, at some point Coach Bunting and the rest of us as a staff will sit down and talk about who we think really has a shot to play on defense, who we may need to look at on offense, that would be Coach Bunting's call, but right now we've already talked about all those kids and we have a starting point for them once they come in as to what side of the ball they will be on. At some point in the fall we'll sit down and Coach Bunting will make that call, and we'll talk about personnel and what we're going to do with them.
Are some of those kids going to have to play on the defensive line next year, at least for depth purposes?
A lot of that is going to depend on how healthy we stay. I think somebody told me at one time that when we ended the season we had only three defensive players that started all twelve games. That means you're rolling different kids in there every week, different kids starting. That's very difficult. I think right now we've got pretty good depth there and if we can stay healthy, we'll see where these kids fit in. If we have injuries, then we are most definitely going to have to get some of these kids ready to play.