Jalen Lawrence looks much different than he did as a freshman three years ago.
Though still big then, those pounds have been moved around. His chest is bigger. He has a waist.
But his tone when he speaks is the same now as it was then: confident and serious. He always looks his questioner in the eye.
Lawrence has started 26 games in three seasons and should start at nose guard/defensive tackle this season for the Panthers, which went 6-7 last year appeared in their first bowl game.
Lawrence was one of the reasons the run defense improved by more than 120 yards per game last season (see blog below “R is for run defense”).
Q: How’s your offseason going?
A: Offseason is going good. A lot of guys are getting in and getting work. We’ve got a lot of young guys in and they are getting accustomed to everything soon.
Q: Coach was talking about the leaders on the team, and how going through the lockerroom he can hear y’all telling others to make sure to go to class, eat meals, go to workouts. Are you one of those leaders, pushing the guys?
A: Yes sir. It’s my job as a senior to be one of those. You have to do it, to make sure everybody is on the same page so that we can establish a tradition.
Q: How would you compare the culture of the program now to when you first got here?
A: It’s way better. It’s a lot better.
Q: In what ways?
A: The fact that we actually have everyone working toward a common goal.
Q: What’s that goal?
A: Trying to win the Sun Belt.
Q: How strong are you now?
A: The last thing I hit on the bench was 475. Next time I max out I want to at least get 520. Squat-wise, the last thing I had was 530. I at least want to get up to that.
Q: What do you weigh now?
A: I’m up to 284.
Q: What’s your goal weight?
A: Goal weight is 285 as solid as I can, maybe get to 290.
Q: How much did you lose during last season? I know it’s hard to maintain weight.
A: It’s all about hydration.
Q: Which of the young guys have impressed you the most?
A: I’m watching all of them but the main three I’ve seen because I spend the most time with them is Clifford Amazan and Terry (Thomas).
Q: What has impressed you about them?
A: They are here ready to work.