After impressing coaches with his physicality and pursuit of the football in limited action last year, redshirt sophomore Tim Fugger should contend for more playing time this season at defensive end. Brandon Barca caught up with the 6-4, 250-pound Montini High, Ill., product during preseason camp.
Tim, how’s practice been going so far?
“It's been fun getting to work behind (Steven) Stone and Broderick (Stewart) and learning from them and everything. It should be a good advantage going into the season.”
Has it been nice to enter camp healthy after battling injuries last season?
“Spring was the first time that I actually went through a whole month of practice without getting hurt. Coming into fall camp, I’m in the healthiest condition since I've been here. It's been a big help.”
What are some areas you’ve been working on?
“I've been trying to break the instincts that I have as a player and am just focusing on technique. Your instincts tell you to do one thing when you're supposed to do another thing. That's what Stone and Broderick are so good at. They’ve been making so many plays in their career. I'm just need to break those habits.”
How beneficial is it to have an experienced defensive line?
“We played every game together last year, and I know what the tackle is doing, what the nose is doing, and what the other end is doing, and that makes my job so much easier. I know that they're doing their job, and I'll be doing my job and we’ll be making plays.”
Is there a competition factor between teammates to win a starting role?
“There’s always competition because we’re all coming from places where we want to be the best we can be.”
How much have you grown as a player since you first stepped on campus?
“Working out with Coach Sisk over the summers helped me to get in great shape. My joints aren’t hurting and I feel fresh. Ever since I got here I’ve always had some little dings here and there, so it’s good to have a fresh start.”
How much does it help to face a veteran offensive line every day in practice?
“I go against James Williams all the time and his progress from last camp, to this spring, to this camp has been tremendous and that just makes me better, makes Stone better, and makes everyone he faces better. You can tell everyone on the o-line has progressed and that just benefits us all.”
When you have to face James on a daily basis, do you have to change your attack due to familiarity?
“Stone and I use to be able to beat him with speed, but he has adjusted to us getting off the edge on him. He’s learned to jump out on us, so we work with Coach Logo to help us with other moves to get to the inside.”
You grew up with Commodore fullback Ryan van Rensburg in Jacksonville. Talk about your relationship with him.
“We’ve been roommates ever since we arrived at Vanderbilt. We get to talk a little trash to each other on the field. It’s fun when I see him coming through the hole and I get to hit him.”
You were one of the top prep sprinters in Metro Chicago in 100-meters in high school. Do you feel like you still have that speed?
“I definitely feel I’ve kept my speed with the weight I’ve put on. As a bigger guy, I’m not just focusing on pass rush. I’ve also got to worry about the run.”