Before yet another roster crisis set in yesterday afternoon, I had a chance to talk to Bulldog senior linebacker Amarlo Herrera. We discussed new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, Herrera's memories of reporting for his freshman season, and Athens fine dining, among other things.
MD: Amarlo what are your goals coming into 2014?
Herrera: Just to be a leader. To be a guy that my team can count on.
MD: Is that just part of the natural progression of being a senior?
Herrera: It's something some people grow into when they're a senior. But I've been playing and even starting for a long time now, so it's kind of a role that I feel like I have to fill more because of that.
MD: What's the biggest area of emphasis for you this summer? Learning a new playbook? Improving physically?
Herrera: Execution is always the biggest thing. But really getting in better shape than I was in the spring, too. That's really for everybody, everybody on the D-line, so we can play without getting tired.
MD: Speaking of conditioning do you have a target weight that you're trying to get to?
Herrera: No. I'm already at my target weight. Now everybody else just got to get on the boat and get down to their target weight.
MD: One of the changes the NCAA has made for 2014 is allowing two hours of coach supervised film study during the summer. Is that something you expect to take advantage of once everyone gets settled in later this summer?
Herrera: We haven't done it yet because nobody's really here yet, though the freshmen just got in. I don't think we'll start doing that until next week, if then. (Note: Coach Richt said separately that Georgia probably won't be using this particular tool until later in the summer.)
MD: Speaking of freshmen, is there anything from your first week on campus that you'll look back and always remember?
Herrera: (Chuckling) Probably the guys from the city going at it with the people from south Georgia. It was different.
MD: What's the difference in terms of the pace and overall attitude at practice compared to what you experienced under the prior defensive staff?
Herrera: The pace is much quicker. Coach Pruitt, coming from Florida State, they emphasize moving fast down there and he's trying to get us on their pace. He's also trying to get us leaner, not so big like we've been being.
MD: Coach Richt has talked this offseason about getting leaner and playing better in space, has the way you condition been different this offseason?
Herrera: Yeah, we're conditioning differently, running shorter distances more explosively with more reps. Everything is just fast. And the rest periods have been cut down a lot because that's how football games are. It's just changing the whole conditioning process.
MD: Let's cover some non football issues, including one I ask everybody: what's your favorite place to eat around Athens on a student's budget?
Herrera: Besides Chik-Fil-A?
MD: Yeah, that one kind of goes without saying.
Herrera: Oh man, besides Chik-Fil-A I've got three places: La Parilla, Taqueria del Sol*, and Inoko. Those are definitely my favorite places.
MD: Good choices. The NCAA is fond of saying that most student athletes go pro in something other than sports. If an NFL career isn't in the cards for you, what do you see yourself doing years from now?
Herrera: Well I'm a sociology major, and I could actually see myself as a sociology teacher. Sociology helps you understand and communicate with people better, to really understand them. I think that could help me really serve as a mentor to kids.
MD: Awesome. Thanks, Amarlo.
Herrera: Sure. It was nice meeting you. (And I'm not making this up. He also initiated a handshake before moving on to other interviewers. Classy guy.)
*Take a note, ladies. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. The express lane to Amarlo Herrera's heart is apparently lined with enchiladas.