The defensive tackle made his first career start against Rutgers, replacing Vincent Valentine. It capped a long road back for thejuniorfrom Holland, Ohio, who suffered a bad ankle injury in August - after previously tearing ACLs in both knees — and saw mostly limited snaps until the Northwestern game on Oct. 18.
Q: What was it like going out with the first-team defense on Saturday?
A: It felt great. Like I've told everybody else, it's been something I haven't been able to do in four years. Being able to finally experience it... that was awesome.
Q: Did you take a moment to look around and absorb it at least a little?
A: Yeah, I did for a second at first, but then it came right up on us because we were up first on defense. So I needed to get focused and get ready to go.
Q: How are you feeling physically now after getting a good chunk of snaps the past two weeks?
A: It's pretty rough, but I feel good, honestly. I've been longing to feel this way. To be beat up after a game. To feel sore. I like that feeling, because that's the feeling of accomplishment, that you went out there and you put it all out there and laid it on the line.
Q: Did you need to play the 50-plus snaps Saturday to know where you're at with conditioning and if you could hold up with that kind of work?
A: There was no doubt in my mind and I knew before that I could take on that. It was just a matter of when I needed to.
Q: How much have your injuries tested you along the way?
A: A great amount. That was the toughest thing I've ever been through in my life. I got here with such expectations and so much hope, and got set back the first time right when I got here pretty much. Then (again) right as I was starting to do really well and I got my spot with the No. Is last year. Worked through that and then the week before the first game (this season) bad ankle sprain with a bone bruise. It was just really frustrating.
Q: Realizing how thin the depth is on the defensive line, did you feel the need to hurry back?
A: I'd talk to coach Kaz (Rick Kaczenski) and everybody and they would say, "Yeah, we need ya back. We need ya going. We need to explore other treatment routes or something to speed up the process." And we did that. The training staff has been excellent.