July 19, 2011
A year ago, Malik Jackson was a transfer trying to prove himself in Knoxville. Heading into his senior year, he's a preseason All-SEC defensive tackle and one of the Vols' three representatives at SEC Media Days in Birmingham.
In this installment of Tennessee 3, a new, three-topic Q&A exclusive on UTSports.com, Jackson talks about the D-line heading into fall camp, his Media Days appearance and what it was like seeing himself on a billboard near campus.
1. IN THE TRENCHES...
What kind of an impact has Lance Thompson had with you guys on the defensive line so far?
"I think he's had a great impact on the D-line. We all know what he expects. He's real stern and expects a lot out of us, and he's going to push us every day. I think that's what we need, somebody who will push us and expect greatness out of us and deal with all our attitudes."
How much adjustment was there with him moving over there in spring practice?
"I don't think there was really too much of an adjustment, you know, because we saw how he was with the linebackers. We knew what he expected. We kind of knew what we had to do to get on his good side and do what we have to do with him. It really wasn't too bad at all."
What do you see looking at the D-line heading into fall camp?
"I see toughness. I see a few young guys who still need to get sculpted and stuff, but I see a lot of greatness in this D-line. We're still young. We have a lot of potential. Jacques, Corey Miller, we've got Ben Martin coming back. Got a lot of young guys coming in, Mo Couch, (Trevarris) Saulsberry, Jordan (Williams). I think we've got a lot of greatness. I think we just need to practice and get out there on the field, stop lifting weights and actually get to football, I think we're going to be good."
What are the older players doing to get some of those younger guys ready and establish expectations?
"We just try to get them going. First get them in the weight room and just ease them in to it, not to expect too much out of them. We try to get them going, get them into drills. It's not recruiting any more. It's time to work and try to win a championship."
2. YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS...
What was it like the first time you saw yourself on a billboard on campus?
"I was at (quarterback) Matt Simms' house, relaxing playing FIFA. My friend (Vols tight end) Mychal Rivera was like, `Oh that's your billboard.' I was pretty happy. I called my mom and told her. Matt lives at the Tower, that's how we saw it so far down. That's when I first saw it."
You seem pretty laid back about it.
"I called my mom about it, but then I took it as I need to get up on my high-horse and keep going. Next year it will be somebody else on there, not me. I've got to take it with a grain of salt. I appreciate it for those that did it for me. But I've got to work for it now. I'm not going to be up there forever."
Anybody recognize you for it?
"A bunch of dudes... The wrong crowd. Other than that, it's been all right."
"I'm waiting on the cute girls to come up to me and recognize me on the billboard. I'm still waiting on that day. We'll see if that comes."
SEC Media Days is this week. What do you think about spending a couple hours with 900 reporters?
"I don't know. I've never been in that situation, so I don't know. I'm sure it's going to be a lot of questions. Hopefully they ask (Tauren) Poole and Dallas (Thomas) a lot of questions and leave me alone. But I'll do what they ask. Like I said, I've never been in that situation, but hopefully it's fun."
What do you like to talk about? Do you like talking about yourself?
"I talk about my teammates and team stuff. I don't like talking about myself too much. It kind of looks bad. I'd rather talk about my teammates and what we've been doing and how we look this year."
What's one thing you want to be asked about?
"I haven't really thought about it... I don't know. Do they think I should have been an Impact Player on NCAA Football? Yes. I think I should have been. (Laughs) I really don't know. I don't have anything in mind."