New Spartan TE Jamal Lyles Talks About the Transition and his Bye Week Spartans
Q: …understanding running pass schemes. Is it learning it all on the fly? How much of it would you say you’ve digested so far?
A: I’d probably say I’ve got the whole passing game down pat. I’m just trying to get better at run blocking and the schemes and the checks on the line.
Q: Were you a receiver in high school?
A: Yeah, I’ve been a receiver and quarterback in high school.
Q: How good of a receiver were you?
A: 7 on 7 in Pittsburgh, we won the championship and I played receiver. I was the lead receiver in that game.
Q: Was there any thought of being a receiver in college or were you gonna be D end?
A: I didn’t get offered by nobody at D end. I had offers at tight end and linebacker. A lot of them…at tight end too.
Q: So you transitioned to D end here?
A: Yeah, in the spring.
Q: Was the first talk of you at tight end this fall or last spring?
A: Talks about tight end was after the first game.
Q: That was the beginning of it?
Q: Are you surprised they waited that long to approach you about it?
A: No, because I did good at linebacker when I first came in, earned that playing time. But we had so many great guys ahead of me that were older and experienced. So they moved me to D end to try and get on the field because their numbers were short. And then moved to tight end because of all the situations that were going on there so…
Q: Are you pretty happy there? Do you like it? The defensive mindset is so different.
A: I don’t wanna say it’s too different because you get to still get to run block and hit people. So that’s just the same as defense. The only finesse part that comes in is running routes and not running in to coverage.
Q: Now that you’re on the field a lot more people are following you and take notice of you. Do you think about your Twitter account more?
A: Social media is okay. I just can’t let it affect the things that I do and say. I already learned my lesson before, using it, so I just use it more wisely.
Q: Take me through that catch a little bit.
A: We’ve been working… I was in that package. I started in that package so when they called the play… As soon as I heard the Z Fly part, when I go across the field motion, 99% I knew I was getting the ball. So it was a rush. They were lined up. The safety was real inside. The linebacker was inside. I knew they were gonna bite toward Michael Dennis and Gleichert because we’ve been running the ball real effective. I wasn’t in the game that much either so they probably didn’t expect it. So I got open, the ball was a little high, I made a great play and caught it, and there was an adrenaline rush. I felt real good.
Q: That’s a rush when you know the ball’s coming your way.
A: Yeah. It felt real good to catch the ball. Just keep boosting my confidence and get ready for Iowa.
Q: Did you tell yourself it didn’t matter where it was thrown? You went up after that ball like your life depended on it.
A: Yeah, I practiced like that every day, working on my hands. We were catching on the jugs and stuff so I made catches like that in practice. So I wasn’t too surprised because I’ve been working real hard on catching the ball.
Q: So now that we’ve seen you make the great catch, are we gonna see you run after any catches? What are you like in the open field? You got any moves?
A: Yeah, I can make a couple people miss. We’re added more routes in so I should start having some yards after the catch later on in the season. So it’s a work in progress but I’ll show up more and more.
Q: What do you weigh now?
A: Around 245.
Q; Were you surprised that you’ve been able to make these transitions? Has any of it been real difficult for you?
A: In high school all I played was receiver. Every campus I went to I never played linebacker, I always played receiver.
A: The only time I played linebacker was in game situations, like at my high school. But I had many offers and stuff at receiver.
Q: Who offered you for receiver?
A: Michigan offered me at tight end, MAC schools, Iowa told me I could come in and play tight end or linebacker. So it was really my choice on what position I wanted to play. I just came here to play linebacker at first. I just got put in where I was needed so I play tight end now.
Q: So you came here to play linebacker and now you’re not anywhere near that. Talk about the mentality of what you have to change inside your head to be able to make that transition.
A: I can be a linebacker in blocking and not just be a tight end in the passing game. The mentality of defense is still there. Coach Tressle, he talked about how we don’t lose that defensive mindset on offense. And he said make plays. So I’ve just been keeping at just making plays in my mind.
Q: Do you feel like being a tight end could be your long-term future?
A: Yes, I believe I can go far and do big things at tight end.
Q: Are you repping all on O now or are you still doing reps on both sides?
A: Right now I’m repping totally offense, totally tight end.
Q: Narduzzi ever cries, Hey man I want you back?
A: Every day before we come out to practice he always tells me, You still know the defensive end plays right? I just give him the head nod. Emergency situations.
Q: Do you still know the defensive end plays?
A: Yes. Emergency situations I could always flip around during the game.
Q: Other than the need for playmakers, is there anything else about playing tight end here that has opened your eyes?
A: I’m just trying to go out there and make plays, really. It’s feeling real natural so I’ll probably be here at tight end for a long time. So it’s coming along.
Q: Is it tougher getting the passing game stuff down or the running game stuff down?
A: The running game because there’s more checks. Everybody talking, it’s loud. You gotta listen to the numbers and stuff. So that’s just basically the biggest thing. The passing game is all the way down pat though, so far.
Q: Are you physical enough? Have you been able to handle it in there with the D ends?
A: Oh yeah, the physical part is not a question. It’s just some of the mental stuff, like all the checks and stuff. If the play is called straight I’ll be real good. But sometimes when they check it I have to think. It’s gotta be more natural. You can’t think while you’re out there playing. It’s gotta be like as soon as he says it, alright I’m ready to go. That’s the biggest transition. But I’m doing real good at that. I should get more playing time as I learn the system. Everybody just has to be patient. They just can’t put me out there anytime it’s a pass.
Q: Is this bye week maybe gonna help you, hopefully in the Iowa game, doing more?
A: Oh yeah. I got extra film work, extra blocking, extra plays. Coach is over there helping me out after the interviews, so you know… Just learning everything.
Q: How long will you be out here after we get finished talking to you?
A: I really don’t know. Until I get better at my techniques and stuff.
Q: How much has the defensive mentality helped you switch over on tight end? You talked about Coach telling you to take that same hunger you had on defensive end to tight end.
A: That helped me real good because you’ve gotta be physical playing football. Now the guys outweigh you more along the defensive front and we’ve gotta cut them off sometimes. So you just gotta go in there and hit them and keep your hands inside. It’s a lot like defensive end using your hands. After you get (??), it’s a hand fight.
Q: So there’s more technique to this whole tight end thing than everybody sees just overlooking?
A: Oh yeah, you can’t overtake… Like when you’re a defensive end you can take longer steps and you gotta keep offside. Tight end is more like chop steps, smaller steps, so you can get into them and stay square so they can’t throw you. Or be too top heavy or they can throw you over. Defensive end is like more attack and keeping them off your body.
Q: What did you see from Connor today and the way he commanded the huddle?
A: Connor is a real leader. He’s been working with me too, throwing balls extra. I believe he’s a real good leader, strong, strong-minded guy. He’s real good.
Q: Dantonio said after the game that Cook’s our #1. Does the team see Cook as your #1 guy?
A: You’d have to ask Coach Dantonio on that. I really can’t speak on that.
Q: What about in terms of his confidence? It seems like his confidence is all there right now.
A: Yeah, his confidence is all there. All the quarterbacks’ confidence is all there. We’re all still competing every day. Anybody job can get took from the best player to the worst player on our team. You gotta come out here and practice hard every day.
Q: He’s always seemed like a very confident person, even as a true freshman. Is that the way he handles himself off the field?
A: He’s a real confident player, in the locker room real confident. He wants to be… Everybody wants to be the best. We’re all just striving toward being the best.