Frequently asked questions
Between interviews, conversations with friends, and social media posts, there are a few questions that come up over and over. Here are my answers:
1. You came to UCF in 2017 and have experienced many different coaches and teammates over the years. Can you comment on how the changing environment has affected you as a player?
I actually consider the changing environment to be a blessing. I have had the chance to learn from a lot of different coaches and play alongside some really great players. Working with 3 different coaching staffs has also forced me to learn new playbooks and strategies every single year. I think being used to learning and fitting into new schemes will actually really benefit me in the NFL or any career I pursue after football.
2. You opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Can you explain this decision and what you did during your off year?
Opting out was incredibly tough because I desperately wanted to be out there with my team. However, back in the Summer of 2020, there were a lot of unknowns regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19 such as heart inflammation, lung damage, and mental fog. Knowing that I want to pursue football as a career, my mom and I ultimately came to the conclusion over the course of many long talks that protecting my health and longevity had to be my priority. Now that we have the vaccine, I am confident that we are in a much better place this season than we were in 2020. During that time off, I spent every weekend watching UCF games! I also played video games at the competitive level and worked on strengthening some of my weaknesses in the gym so I could come back bigger, faster, and stronger.
3. You were recruited to UCF as a linebacker but have since become one of the biggest names on the Defensive Line. How difficult was that switch to make during your time here at UCF?
I actually somewhat expected to be moved to the DLine as I kept getting bigger and stronger here at UCF. Initially, I was moved to edge before landing at tackle (although I still play edge in some packages). The transition actually wasn't too bad and I think playing linebacker for many years has helped me become a very quick and agile DT. I'm thankful for the opportunity to switch between the edge and tackle positions because this has forced me to become a versatile player that can fit into multiple schemes.
4. The UCF defense struggled during the 2020 season. Do you think enough has changed since then to make up for some of the weaknesses?
You know, people bring up the 2020 defensive struggles quite a bit. I actually don't think last year was as concerning for the long run as many people make it out to be. Whether it was opting out or for other reasons, there were many players missing which significantly hurt the depth chart. A lack of fresh defensemen playing alongside a hurry-up offense can be tough. That being said, the young guys went out there and showed a lot of growth over the season so I'm excited to see what we can do in 2021.
5. What are your long term goals with football?
Football has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. Ever since I was little, playing in the NFL has been my dream. I'm still working towards that dream. I'm also excited to pass on my love for football to the younger people. I actually had 2 nephews be born this past year and you know that my first present to each of them had to be a UCF onesie!