In the latest installment of "Between the Hashmarks," Dakota Austin talks about the areas where he improved during fall camp and which members of the secondary have impressed him, while A.D. Miller names his favorite NFL player and Jay Boulware gives insight into the running backs and special teams units.
SENIOR CORNERBACK DAKOTA AUSTIN
How would you assess fall camp?
“It was pretty good. We came a lot closer than where we started off. I think guys built some chemistry, especially ones against ones, so we learned to work as a unit and I think that’s carrying over right now in practices.”
What’s something you got better at during fall camp?
“Just being consistent and coming in every day and being able to get better working on the same things. I can feel it working now, so I think that was the biggest part of camp for me. Last year I kind of got thrown in the fire, so getting some time to prepare ahead of time and getting the schemes down will help me out a lot this year.”
Who do you see stepping into the role Zack Sanchez played last year?
“I’d like to say me. I’m the starting corner. I came in and I think I’m playing at a high level right now, and there are other guys who are too. We’re getting better as a unit and I feel like I’m getting better, as well. I’m just trying to set an example for the young guys, just not doing the stupid stuff I did as a younger guy. I know there are eyes on me and I know there are people watching me now. I want to be a good leader.”
Who is someone you has impressed you so far this season?
“Both of the young corners, Parrish Cobb and Parnell Motley, they’re both doing well and they’re both competing. They came in a lot better than you would think two freshmen would come in. They’re catching onto the schemes fast and they’re fast learners. At this level, it’s really about how fast you can learn, and they’re picking that up quick.”
Is there an NFL player you think you try to model your game after?
“Brent Grimes. He’s just small and quick, and he’s a ball hawk. He takes risks, and I like that.”
How was your last first day of school?
“Oh my gosh, it was great! My mom texted all of us (Monday) morning. My sister is teaching now, and I have a little brother in high school, so she was talking about how it was the last first day of school for me and all of that. I’m ready to go, though. I’m ready to be done, so it was a big day for me.”
SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER A.D. MILLER
How did training camp go?
“It went pretty well. I went out there and competed with everybody. It was pretty fun, and I had a good time, so overall, it was a pretty good training camp.”
How does your position group look?
“We look very good, very strong. We’re pretty deep at receiver, so I feel like y’all will see a lot more people out there; a lot of new faces on the field.”
You’re facing the secondary every day. How are they looking?
“They look great. Dakota (Austin), J.T. (Jordan Thomas), P.J. (Mbanasor), the two new freshmen Parnell (Motley) and Parrish (Cobb). Parrish looks real nice, I’ll say that. He’s one that I like to compete with a lot. Him, Dakota, and J.T. So they look pretty good. Even the safeties are looking nice, too.”
Who’s your favorite NFL player?
“A.J. Green, easily, because I can relate to him the most. I feel like body type and speed, I feel like we’re very similar.”
How was your first day of school Monday?
“It was pretty easy. We didn’t really do much—took a couple notes, no homework yet.”
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR, RUNNING BACKS COACH JAY BOULWARE
How would you assess how fall camp went for your groups?
“The running backs have done a great job. Losing Rodney (Anderson) is a dagger in my side right now, but they’ve all really worked hard and I’m pleased with where they are right now.”
Are the running backs living up to the hype everyone has for them?
“We’ll see on game day. That’s where that hype comes from. It’s not about what they do in practice. It’s about what they do on Sept. 3, and if they go out and they have a great game, then that’s just game one. They have to be consistent throughout the course of the year. We had a few games last year where we didn’t run the ball very well, and we’ve got to run the ball well every game. That’s the challenge I’m putting before them right now.”
Who do you look to in replacing Rodney Anderson?
“I look to all of my guys to step up, all the guys who were competing for that third spot behind Joe (Mixon) and Samaje (Perine). I look to all of them to step up. Abdul (Adams) is one of them. Daniel (Brooks) is one of them, and I want all of those guys to get better so that we don’t miss a beat.”
Are you looking to Austin Siebert to handle everything as far as kicks go?
“I really don’t know which direction I’m going to go right now. I know he’s shown me that he can be better at all three, but right now the only one that I can for sure see he’s the starter at is the punter. The punting position was his strong suit last year, but he’s also done a good job at kicking field goals and kicking off, so I think he can be all three. Will I ask him to do all three? We’ll find out soon enough.”
Who is positioning themselves well to return kickoffs and punts?
“Joe Mixon comes to mind, and we’ve got Dede Westbrook. We’ve got Jarvis Baxter and Mykel Jones, and we also have Daniel Brooks and Abdul Adams. Those are the guys that are kind of setting themselves apart as potential kick returners and punt returning guys. Those guys are all just kind of jockeying right now in my mind and Coach (Cale) Gundy’s mind as to which one will be named the starter.”