2017 Beyond The Trophy: Meet Adam Greene from University of Maryland


ADAM GREENE 2

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Adam Greene

College: University of Maryland

Height, weight, class, position: 5-11, 193-pound senior place kicker

High School: Broadneck High School, Arnold Maryland

About Greene: This is the second season Greene is the starting place kicker for the Terrapins. … He made his first appearance for Maryland as a redshirt sophomore in 2015 in a relief effort and his first start was against Michigan State. … President of the Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, Vice President of Maryland’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. … 2017 AFCA Good Works Team nominee and Wuerffel Watch List nominee. … A three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten. … Two-time All-State selection in high school and holds the Maryland state field goal record with 27.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

Greene: I will never forget my first home game I played in verses Wisconsin.  After an injury to our starter on the opening kickoff, I had to step in as our team’s field goal kicker. Within minutes I had my first college attempt, a 44-yard kick from the right hash. The feeling of making my first field goal and seeing the team’s reaction and support was unforgettable!  Our team rallied in the fourth quarter and started chipping away at Wisconsin’s lead.  We scored with 3 minutes left to bring it to within sevent points. I went in for the onside kick to give our team a chance to tie the game. It avoided all of Wisconsin’s players and bounced right into our returner’s hands and our unit ran to the end zone.  Unfortunately a flag was thrown calling it back but that was an incredible way to start my career two years ago!

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

Greene: I had always been heavily involved in the community through my church and adaptive athletics in high school. But when I came to Maryland I was in a communications class that had us watch various Ted Talks and I came across a video of a boy who was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder, Progeria, who talked about his philosophy towards a happy life. The video struck me and within the next week, an upperclassman mentioned Maryland’s involvement in Uplifting Athletes and tackling rare diseases. Since then I joined the cause and it has been incredible using the platform we have as athletes to use our talents and abilities for a purpose larger than football itself. This past year we tripled our Chapter’s fundraising and were able to bring nearly half the team to the National Institute of Health to visit and meet children diagnosed with rare diseases.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

Greene: Nothing beats running out of our tunnel with the flames and fireworks shooting around us to see a stadium supporting the team. It’s a feeling that never gets old and fires you up for the game.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Greene: My favorite NFL player is Matt Stover. When I was younger, Matt was an extremely influential role model for me. We met when I was 12 years old at one of his summer kicking camps where I competed and finished first amongst the kickers who attended. Since that day, he took me under his wing and crafted me into the kicker I am from my form, technique, and character. He was an example of a man of faith who performed and became one of the best kickers ever in the League and he has been there to help guide me along my college career.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

Greene: Warren Buffett. Off the field I have been captivated by the field of finance and investing. Last December I graduated with a double major in Finance and Information Systems and I am currently completing a Masters in Quantitative Finance. It would be amazing to talk and learn from one of the most successful investors ever to hear his advice for my future career to come.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

Greene: Wisconsin definitely tops the charts. Being in the Big Ten you experience some incredible football fans and atmospheres but when the stadium shook from “Jump Around” and the crowd got into the game it became my favorite.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football or big goals for the future?

Greene: First and foremost is family as that is incredibly important to me. But it’s my goal to work on Wall Street after football and leverage what I have learned through sport and school in a career there. I would love to travel and experience new cultures and places. It’s been my dream to become a President or CEO of a company so there is a lot in store and I’m excited to continue my philanthropic endeavors and see where the future takes me.

RAPID FIRE

What is your perfect pizza?

Greene: Margherita

Last three songs you added to your playlist?

Greene: Boys of Fall – Kenny Chesney; Thunderstruck – AC/DC; 19’ Something – Mark Willis

Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus?
Greene: Taylor Swift

If you could spend the day with any celebrity, who would it be?

Greene: Jennifer Anniston

What was the last movie you went to the theater and saw?

Greene: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with my brother

In the mountains or on a beach?

Greene: On a beach

What’s the last picture you took with your phone?

Greene: Our freshman student section cheering and getting ready for game day

Uplifting Athletes set to host 24 student-athlete chapter leaders for 2017 Leadership Development Conference


LDC 17 GRAPHICFor our eighth consecutive year, we will gather college football student-athletes that are current or future chapter leaders together for three days of education and training during the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

This year 24 current football players from 13 universities across the country will travel to Philadelphia on Friday, May 19 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Syracuse, Illinois, Florida State, Maryland, Stony Brook, Penn and Saint Francis will start the 2017 conference with a team meal Friday night prior to a full Saturday agenda.

The weekend agenda is driven by the Uplifting Athletes staff, but will also feature a breakout session focused on the rare disease community hosted by Kristen Angell from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD).

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday are an overview of Uplifting Athletes, a team building exercise, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning, transferable life skills development, communication and social media training, and an introduction to rare disease patient engagement through Uplifting Experiences.

We are very excited to bring this group together to learn from each other, to strategize together and to foster the sense of teamwork that inspires us all.

 

Beyond The Trophy: Sam Tullman, Penn Quakers DE


sam-tullman

Each week during the 2016 college football season, Uplifting Athletes will feature a leader from our nationwide network of student-athlete led chapters.

Name: Sam Tullman

College: University of Pennsylvania

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 230 pounds, senior, defensive end

High School: North Shore Country Day School, Wilmette, Ill.

About Sam Tullman: Came to Penn as freshman in 2013 after a strong three-sport high school career on the North Shore just outside Chicago. Tullman did not see any varsity action his first two years, but did see some playing time in 2015 as part of the Quakers 17th Ivy League Championship in program history. Tullman is the President of the Penn Chapter of Uplifting Athletes and has served as a strong and passionate rare disease advocate.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

Tullman: Other than winning, which is an essential part of the Quaker experience we’ve restored, the post-game tailgate is awesome. The parents put together an unbelievable spread for us, so we can eat ourselves to sleep. I know it’s not our nutritionists favorite part of the game day experience, though.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

Tullman: When our defensive coordinator, coach Benson, approached myself and two of my other buddies on the team and told us about this incredible man who he coached when he was at Georgetown – who is currently researching his own rare disease barely two blocks away at Penn. The man’s name is Dr. Fajgenbaum, and calling him an inspiration to the three of us and the rest of our team is an understatement. His cause became our cause, and our cause likewise fit with Uplifting Athletes’ cause. Among other things, it’s given me a sense of perspective. A perspective of what other people are dealing with that I couldn’t begin to understand, and perspective on how many people really do care and are doing something to advance rare disease research and awareness.

What has been your most memorable experience as a college football player?

Tullman: Upsetting No. 4 Villanova last year. That was a goal of mine from before I even played my first snap in practice my freshman year. The intensity during the game, the excitement as we stormed the field and the feeling of accomplishment in the aftermath was only matched in winning the Ivy League Championship.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

Tullman: Playing against quality, mobile quarterbacks is always stressful as a defensive player. Lehigh beat us pretty handily last year, as did Dartmouth with quarterback Dalyn Williams. Villanova two years ago was also a tough one when John Robertson was healthy.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Tullman: Cameron Wake. He plays my position (defensive end) and I love the way he plays it, being slightly undersized but making up for it with explosiveness and sheer athleticism. But even more, I love him because he was totally counted out of the NFL and played in Canada for two years to prove himself. He did, and is one of the best in the league as this position, if not the best when he’s healthy.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

Tullman: Cornell. I’ve never been, but it’s where we are going to win and celebrate the championship this year.

What is your major and what are some of your plans and dreams after college football?

Tullman: I’m majoring in biological basis of behavior, which is really just a complicated name for neuroscience. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to use it. But I know it’s not in research or as a doctor. I’m an entrepreneur and leader at heart, so I think the start-up space is where I’m headed.

 

 

2016 Rare Disease Champion Finalist: Marcus Rios, UCLA


Each of the six finalists for the 2016 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award will be featured here. In order to cast your online vote to help determine the 2016 Rare Disease Champion, you can visit our voting page. The winner will be announced February 18.

RIOS 3

MARCUS RIOS

University: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Vitals: 6-0, 195-pound junior cornerback

Quick Hits: Rios was a finalist for the 2015 Rare Disease Champion award after overcoming his battle with an extremely rare disease and returning to the field for the 2015 season despite losing 50 pounds during his battle. He came back bigger and stronger for the 2015 Bruins season and earned one of the starting cornerback spots. Rios played in all 13 games this past season for UCLA, recording 49 total tackles including 30 solo stops. Rios didn’t have an interception, but totaled seven pass break-ups.

One of 10 children to Richard and Ivy Rios, Marcus has seven brothers and two sisters. … Was a 4-star recruit and one of the top 25 cornerbacks in the country coming out of high school. Enrolled early at UCLA and participated in 2012 spring practice. … Saw action in nine games as a true freshman on special teams and as a reserve in the secondary. … Missed all of the 2013 season before returning to participate in all 12 games in 2014 on special teams and part-time duty in the secondary.

Rios’ story was featured on the television series “Monster Inside Me” earlier this year on the Animal Planet channel.

INSIDE THE STORY

It took doctors three surgeries to finally figure out what Marcus Rios was up against. His condition, Aspergillosis, was extremely rare and deadly. Rios was told of the 12 previous confirmed cases similar to his, eight had died and two of the four who survived initially later died. It quickly became apparent Rios was in a fight for his life.

Initially Rios believed he had a sinus infection. But as the symptoms and pain escalated to the point where sleep was impossible and it was hard to even see, playing football took a back seat. Rios could barely get out of bed, and simple everyday tasks we all take for granted were impossible.

Richard Rios and his wife Ivy quit their jobs and left their Sacramento home to set up camp at UCLA Medical Center to support their son. His room, where he spent 28 days under intense care of specialists, overlooked Spaulding Field so he could watch his teammates practice. During those dark days, being able to see his teammates practice provided Rios with the inspiration to keep fighting.

THE RARE JOURNEY

It was made clear to Rios when he was admitted to the UCLA Medical Center that he might not survive. The infection that had invaded Rios’ brain usually gets to a critical level because of a weakened immune system.

What confused the doctors even more was Rios’ immune system was strong and healthy. Rios and his father would rise each morning at 7 a.m. during their stay in the medical center to watch the Bruins practice. It was at times a harsh reminder of what he was missing, but also served as an inspiration.

The several surgeries and treatments left Rios’ body ravaged. An elite 180-pound athlete when arrived at UCLA in 2012, he lost nearly 50 pounds and this one-time prized DB recruit was down to 130 pounds.

But he was alive. And although his condition requires continued monitoring with the possibly additional surgeries, Rios was a healthy 195 pounds as a starting cornerback this season for the Bruins.

RIOS 1WHAT THEY SAID

“I’ve came a long way (since the illness). I always knew the day I got out of the hospital, I would work hard every day, push my teammates. I focused on putting in the time to get better. That’s what was always expected of me when I came here.” Marcus Rios on starting for the Bruins in 2015

 “We don’t fear things that we can’t control. That kid has been through a lot at a very early age and he stayed positive. It’s been an incredible ordeal.” – Richard Rios

 

Beyond The Trophy: Stephen Hodge, Fordham University


STEPHEN HODGE FORDHAM

Name: Stephen Hodge

College: Fordham University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 212, senior, linebacker

High School: Shawnee HS in Medford, N.J.

About Stephen Hodge: A tackling machine, Hodge has appeared in at least 11 games in each of first three seasons with the Rams. As a junior he led the nation among FCS schools in solo tackles with 94 and was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. A preseason All-American this year, the President of the Fordham Chapter is a legacy at Fordham as his older brother Chris played for the Rams from 2001-03. This would have been his third year as a starter for a Rams squad that won the Patriot League title in 2013 and earned an FCS postseason berth. A two-time member of the Patriot League academic honor roll, Hodge has missed all of this season with an injury.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

HODGE: Favorite experience that I enjoy most is ringing our victory bell after every home win. It is an awesome tradition.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

HODGE: My past teammates such as Andrew Milmore, Tom Fisher, and Vince Antinozzi informed me of their experience and how awesome the whole process was. I’ve been blessed with a lot and it feels good to give back.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

HODGE: Definitely beating Temple last year on a last-second play. I had about 200 people their because the game was in Philadelphia. Plus I got to play at Lincoln Financial Field, home of my favorite NFL team, the Eagles. It was sort of like a perfect storm. Oh yeah, my sister also got engaged that day, too. She kind of stole the spotlight.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

HODGE: Toughest team we have faced is probably Villanova. They have a great program. In our most recent series we are both undefeated at home.

What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

HODGE: My major is finance and I would like to think all those public speaking classes helped out in addressing my team. Probably not, though.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

HODGE: I don’t really have one. It was Luke Kuechly at Boston College. He’s a real hustle player and I respect that.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

HODGE: Well I already said Kuechly before I have to go with Jon Dorenbos. The magic man. Best long snapper in history.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

HODGE: Army’s Michie Stadium. The place is awesome. Although, the last experience I had there wasn’t too great.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

HODGE: Not feeling like I got ran over by a truck every Sunday after Saturday’s game.

 

Notre Dame Chapter President Joe Schmidt is living his dream


Joe Schmidt is the current President of the Uplifting Athletes Notre Dame Chapter. This story written by ESPN.com Notre Dame and ACC Reporter Matt Fortuna originally appeared on ESPN.com.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Joe Schmidt’s right-hand-man says the defense wouldn’t be the same without him. His father says he wouldn’t put a price on his son’s dream. His coach invoked the name of the NFL’s top defensive player when discussing him — at least in each’s recruitment.

“There’s a handful of those guys every year: When I recruited J.J. Watt at Central Michigan, why didn’t he have more offers?” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “So everywhere that I’ve been, I’ve recruited somebody along the way that has turned out to be a great player and he didn’t have a lot of offers.”

Hyperbole aside, Schmidt’s path from preferred walk-on to starting middle linebacker has been one of the more remarkable stories this season for No. 9 Notre Dame, which puts its 4-0 mark to the test Saturday against No. 14 Stanford. The California kid is one off the team lead in tackles (30) and has been instrumental in the development of the nation’s No. 4 scoring defense, a unit that replaced seven starters from 2013 while adjusting to new coordinator Brian VanGorder and his aggressive attack.

VanGorder deemed the redshirt junior before the season as “unusual” in his ability to communicate as the quarterback of a new defense. So far that has bared true, with Schmidt tracing the knowledge-base back to an adolescent career that saw him play everywhere from the trenches to under center to the secondary.

Schmidt’s father, also Joe, saw those instincts take over when his son was called up to the varsity as a sophomore at powerhouse Mater Dei in Santa Ana, which at the time featured future pros Matt Barkley and Khaled Holmes.

The insecurity of being the new guy begat extended time in the film room, the elder Schmidt said, the same way the insecurity of entering Notre Dame as a walk-on begat over-preparation. Mater Dei coaches at times had to re-enforce to Schmidt that his talent belonged among the big boys he was playing with, for fear of him becoming too cerebral and not trusting his instincts.

When Schmidt’s parents take him to dinner after games now, they hardly recognize the disciplined eater, who had regularly downed burgers, fries and soda as a teenager. When in the stands, Schmidt’s father at times cannot help but grow uneasy watching his son running around barking orders like a drill sergeant before each play.

” ‘Joe, worry about what you’re going to be doing. Make sure you’re ready when the ball’s snapped,’ ” the elder Schmidt joked. “But he seems to figure out a way to read the defense, make the calls and be ready.”

Despite a 98-tackle senior year that ended in the state semifinals, the now-235-pound Schmidt failed to draw heavy interest from college suitors. The Schmidts takes some responsibility for that, given Joe’s narrow-minded approach to his recruitment. The oldest of his three sisters, 31-year-old Catherine, had run track at Notre Dame, and the family would visit during football weekends. Schmidt, roughly 10 at the time, immediately fell in love with the place and never wavered. Backyard football consisted of him pretending he was playing for Notre Dame, often scoring game-winning touchdowns against home-state rival USC.

Under-sized and without much pro-activeness toward the small pool of interested recruiters, Schmidt found his offers limited to Ivy League schools, Cincinnati, Air Force and few others. There remained Notre Dame — which offered him a preferred walk-on spot — and its roughly $50,000-a-year pricetag, making for lengthy conversations between son and parents.

“We had a wall covered in posterboard weighing them all,” Schmidt said of the options.

The Ivy alternatives didn’t look so bad to his parents. (Joe is an investor at a private-equity firm. His wife, Debra, is a pro soccer coach.) Schmidt made it clear that he would accommodate their needs, but he also laid out the dream in front of him.

” ‘My dream is to play at Notre Dame,’ ” the elder Schmidt recalled his son saying. ” ‘Even if I have success at another school, I don’t want to think, ‘Could I have done it at Notre Dame?’ If I go there and it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it my all.’

“My wife and I were in tears. How do you say no to that? You both want what your kids really aspire to achieve, and we knew if he was that hungry he was going to work his tail off.”

Special teams contributions gave way to a scholarship in June 2013. Schmidt informed his parents of the news with a 5:30 a.m. PT wake-up call telling them they had just saved $100,000. A midseason injury to Jarrett Grace last year paved the way for more defensive snaps, with Schmidt living out his dream in his first extended action by making a game-saving hit on USC’s final drive to help clinch the win.

His father joked that he might have needed to give his son eternal psychological counseling had that game ended differently, but Schmidt’s been the one leaving his mark on others. He helped establish Notre Dame’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit that aligns college football teams with rare diseases. When his uncle, Gary, died from lung cancer two years ago at the age of 61, he and his family launched the Schmidt Legacy Foundation, which raises money for medical research, specifically lung cancer and dementia. Schmidt was Notre Dame’s nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team, as its most charitable player.

Schmidt’s unusual skills have carried him through an unusual route, accelerating the growth of a defense down four contributors amid the school’s internal academic probe. He’s been indispensable through the first-third of the season, an unlikely cog behind an Irish team whose playoff résumé will swell if it beats the Cardinal on Saturday.

“That’s my brother, I love him,” said linebacker Jaylon Smith, the Irish’s leading tackler (31). “Both of us in the middle, it’s just all about family and making sure we’re on the same page. … The communication level, the focal point, it wouldn’t be there without him.”

An in-depth look at Florida State Chapter President Kevin Haplea


Kevin Haplea

This story written by Florida State sports information intern Jack Shields and originally appeared on Seminoles.com.

Redshirt senior tight end Kevin Haplea returned to the Seminoles in 2014 after sitting out all of last season recovering from a knee injury. Pairing with Nick O’Leary, the Annandale, N.J. native gives FSU a pair of veteran tight ends with plenty of experience. Haplea transferred to FSU in 2012 from Penn State and has appeared in 40 games since his freshman season in 2010. And while Haplea has made a significant contribution on the field with two touchdown receptions, he has also made an impact off the field. During his year off from football, Haplea founded Florida State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter last fall and spearheaded events that have raised over $10,000 for Fanconi anemia research.  Now in his third season with the ‘Noles, Haplea talks about his journey to his final season of collegiate football.

Q: You suffered a knee injury in the summer leading up to the 2013 season. Can you describe the healing process leading up to the 2014 season?
A: Well, it’s been pretty long. The normal ACL recovery is anywhere from six-to-eight months, and after that, once you’re healed, it’s more getting it back into shape – just conditioning it to play football again. It was a long process, you know, healing it, getting it strengthened up. But it’s over now, and I’m definitely glad it’s over. It was really long and really tedious and frustrating at times.

Q: Last fall, you founded Florida State’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Can you explain what this is?
A: It’s a national nonprofit organization that aligns college football players with rare diseases. And the way it works is different schools will pick their own disease to raise money for. For us, our inspiration was Ethan – Coach Fisher’s son. But it can be a former player or family member of someone on the team. They pick a disease that hits home for them, and they do different activities to raise money. We’ve done the Lift for Life event this summer and the Touchdown Drive. It’s all about raising money and using our platform as college football players to raise awareness for diseases that go usually underserved.

Q: You began your career at Penn State and transferred to Florida State. What qualities about FSU set it apart from other potential destinations?
A: Well, at the time it was the only school that I also got recruited by in high school that still had the same head coach, Coach Fisher, and my tight end coach, which was James Coley at the time. FSU was familiar for me because it was the same coaches that I had when I was getting recruited. And on top of that the academics fit well. The team, too. Obviously I came into a winning situation. The tight end depth situation was right. Everything pretty much lined up as well as it could have considering the circumstance where I transferred so late, so close to camp.

Q: How difficult was it to leave a program you had been a part of for two years and start new?
A: Yeah, it was pretty tough. You know, the hardest part was definitely leaving all the good friendships I had made there over the two-and-a-half years I was there. And, you know, it was a great place to go to school. My twin sister went there, and she stayed there and graduated. It was definitely tough, but it was kind of like a leap of faith I had to take, and it’s worked out great.

Q: Outside of football and rehabilitation, what did you do over the summer?
A: I just tried to stay busy. I mean, whatever it was, whether it was going swimming or reading. I just tried to stay active. Football, working out and working on my knee to get it strengthened up was definitely my primary focus this summer. But in the summer we have a lot of free time and we usually don’t know what to do with it. I just stayed busy.

Q: Your father and uncle both attended the Naval Academy. How did their military background influence your upbringing? Have the lessons they’ve learned been passed down to you?
A: Yeah, definitely. They both went to the Naval Academy, and I was definitely raised with a high standard for discipline and just what it meant to be a man; I think would probably be the best way to describe it. I definitely learned a lot of lessons the hard way. My dad sunk a lot of stuff into me that he wanted to so I think he’s probably pretty happy.

Q: Do the young tight ends on the team look up to you for advice? Does tight ends coach Tim Brewster rely on you and fellow senior tight end Nick O’Leary to provide them with guidance?
A: Yeah, definitely. He definitely looks for me and Nick to be senior leaders. We’re both seniors and we set an example on the field in terms of the assignments that we have to do. We help out the younger players off the field too. We let them know how the away road trips work, where you need to be, what you have to wear, what to bring, what not to bring. So he definitely looks for us to provide leadership in both those ways. The younger guys are always asking questions and stuff on the field, and they know they can come to us with anything they have.

Q: Talk about the different roles you have as a tight end this year, and do you prefer blocking or pass-catching?
A: In our offense you pretty much have to be able to do everything. To play tight end you have to be able to block, you have to be able to receive, pass-block. You have to go in motion sometimes, line up in different spots. It’s a pro-style offense, you can’t be confined to one thing that you can do or else you’re really going to limit yourself. So it’s best to be able to do everything and Coach Fisher will put you in spots that obviously play to your strengths. And of course, I enjoy catching the football.

Q: Tight ends coach Tim Brewster brings a lot of college and NFL experience to the FSU football program. Since his arrival, how has his presence and experience had an impact on the tight ends?
A: I think he’s had a huge impact. His track record speaks for itself in terms of where he’s been and who he’s coached. And for me it’s been all about listening to everything that he says and just different techniques, different ways that he explains stuff that maybe sinks in a little bit different than if someone else were to say it in a different way. But yeah, I think he’s definitely evolved the tight end position at Florida State a lot since he’s been here, and he’ll continue to do it.

Q: As a native of New Jersey, how often do you have a chance to go back home? Do you miss the northeast at times? What do you miss about it?
A: I go home for spring break, usually. I don’t really go to the beach. I like to go home and see my family and stuff like that. I usually get some time, even if it’s only a day or two around Christmas. But yeah, I definitely miss going home. I’d say the cold weather is what I miss probably the most because the summer is great down here and everything like that, but I like it when it gets cold and there’s snow around Christmas and the winter time. That’s probably what I miss the most.

Q: As far as the football field is concerned, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Probably back in 2012 when we won the ACC Championship and the Orange Bowl. I wasn’t on the field last year. I was on the team but wasn’t on the field. I’d probably say that my best accomplishment was being part of an ACC Championship team, going to a BCS Bowl and  winning an Orange Bowl championship.