by Tom Lang
A labrum surgery and shoulder rehabilitation behind him, senior defensive lineman Demonte McAllister had some catching up to do on the field.
Sitting out the spring didn’t keep McAllister from learning new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s playbook in theory, but now he has to prove his understanding in the trenches.
McAllister said his role this fall will be more complicated than in past years. Not just because of a more specialized scheme compared to that of Mark Stoops, but because he also will be lining up in various places.
“My job is a tad different because I’m playing the tackle in one package, then I’m playing the end in another package,” McAllister said. “So I mean responsibility is key, because if you don’t do your job, you can really mess up for people blitzing off the edges… If you don’t stuff (the gaps) the right way, it can mess up a lot of things. There’s a lot of responsibility, especially on the line.”
The Tampa, Fla. native expected all along to rise up the depth chart with junior Timmy Jernigan along the interior. But playing a versatile role, in various defensive fronts? McAllister admitted that caught him off guard.
“I can tell you this,” he began, “the first day, I’m in a meeting and I’m going over the tackle stuff… and (coach) Odell (Haggins) is in the back whispering stuff to me like ‘you’ve got contain on this.’
“And I’m like ‘what are you talking about?’ He said ‘you’re playing end, too’ and I was so surprised. I didn’t know that was coming.”
Physically, McAllister pronounced himself in top form with no ill effects from shoulder rehab. Save for normal camp soreness, he said, health is not a concern. Mentally, however, the senior admitted he needed the first week of camp to get the hang of implementing the newly installed concepts and assignments.
“You really have to put your thinking cap on and really pay attention to what’s going on,” McAllister said. “You’ve really got to hone in.”
Now with a week and an initial learning curve behind him, McAllister looks forward to the rest of camp and the season.
“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “I’m excited for it because on so many plays I get to be versatile.”
Who has the 6: Corner Nick Waisome and defensive end Dan Hicks both are sporting No. 6 jersey. Still.
Hicks put an interesting spin on the conundrum, saying that the coaches informed him that he and Waisome will not be on the field at the same time, clearing the way for the confusion to continue.
Asked if an injury or change in plans forced them on the field at the same time, Hicks wryly said "then that makes the decision that much easier."
Waisome's response to giving the number up?
"I'm still wearing it and I don't planning on taking it off," he said, smiling. "It's not going to be me, that's all I can tell you."
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