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August 2, 2013The best offensive lineman in the Pac-12 in 2012 could be even better this season. Redshirt junior David Yankey, who won the Morris Award for his play at left tackle last year, will slide back to guard in 2013. Yankey's return to the interior line is expected to provide a major boost to Stanford's power run game, which struggled at times in 2012.
Cardinal Sports Report spoke with Yankey at this week's Bay Area college football media day about the upcoming season.
Cardinal Sports Report: Is there any difference in preparation for you knowing that you're going to be playing inside compared to last year when it was a little bit up in the air?
David Yankey: I don't think my preparation changes but it's definitely more of a comfort just having it a little more solidified in general that I'm probably going to be a guard for the whole year. I'm definitely excited to do that, get out pulling and doing all the stuff I get to do at guard.
CSR: So all the national pundits, everybody says your best position is guard. Do you feel that way? Is guard your preference?
DY: I love playing both positions. I don't really completely have a preference. As soon as I get comfortable at one position, the switching back and forth can kind of get you out of your rhythm. As soon as I'm comfortable at one position I'm fine playing there. And I do love to pull. I definitely see what they're saying. The national pundits are there for a reason.
CSR: How would you handicap the center position right now? What have you seen from the main guys, Kevin Danser, Conor McFadden, Khalil Wilkes, all those guys?
DY: There are a lot of guys doing a lot of great things in the center competition. For us the competition is still completely open and it will probably go into training camp, at least a week or two. Every year it happens someone will eventually outpace themselves a little bit compared to the group and will make enough plays to stand out to the coaching staff and probably earn the position.
CSR: What type of gains did you see from Andrus Peat during spring. He's a guy that everyone was raving about? What specifically did you see from him?
DY: He's awesome. He has all the physical tools there and he always has. That's something that obviously excites a lot of people. But the biggest difference I saw in him was really approaching the game as a student. He's getting the playbook completely locked down, which is about that time, coming into our program with how heavy the playbook can be, it does take a while to get it completely locked down. He's doing that and the mental toughness aspect of attacking every play and really bringing it is something he did a great job of this spring.
What's the best thing about starting a week later than everybody else and what's the toughest thing?
DY: The best thing is we get to start camp a week later. Our bodies might be a little bit fresher, especially at the beginning of the season. The worst thing is probably that everybody else gets a head start. You want to start the season as early as possible. You want to get out there playing on the field and also just getting games under the belt, starting out with a bye you're going to be playing a team that's already played in a live game situation.
What's one thing about Stanford's offense this year that might be a little different that people might not expect? We've seen the power running game the last giver years. Is there anything different or is that kind of your M.O. right now?
DY: We're definitely going to keeping hang our hat on the power running game and like I said be more physical than every other team. But I think you'll see a lot more wide receiver involvement, which we haven't seen in years past. We'll have a lot of guys involved in the pass game.
CSR: I want to ask you about Johnny Caspers. He's a guy who came in with no hype but seems to have gotten some buzz. I see you smiling when I say his name, how has he progressed at Stanford?
DY: Yeah, Johnny Caspers is probably one of my favorite guys on the o-line. He's awesome. He was one of the scholarship guys that we had in that class that came in and no one really talked about him. He's just impressed me since he's gotten here. He doesn't say anything, he keeps his mouth shut and just goes and hits people. He blows the d-line off the ball. They all have an intense amount of respect for him because he comes to work every day, doesn't say anything, and keeps his head down. I think he came in at something like 260 pounds and now he's up to 295 and looks great, a lot of muscle. He's a guy that just works and I have an incredible amount of respect for him as well.
CSR: Granted, no pads, no helmets in pads, but what have you seen from the two freshman linemen, Dave Bright and Thomas Oser, so far this offseason?
DY: I've seen some good things from both of them. Dave Bright really impressed me in terms of having an understanding of the mental game. He's much further along than most freshmen coming into our offense and he's really surprised me. Not to say Oser's any slouch, he's done a great job. He's trying to make all the center calls and that's a heavy load as well. I'm excited about both of them. Obviously we'll see how physical they get once they get the pads on.
CSR: Out of the other younger linemen aside from Peat, so Kyle Murphy, Josh Garnett, Johnny Caspers, Graham Shuler, Nick Davidson, was there anybody in particular that you thought made great strides during the spring?
DY: Yeah, definitely, I thought Kyle Murphy and Josh Garnett both made great strides during the spring. They're guys that we're going to count on to play even more than they did in the past year. Josh might get a chance to play some, (as will) Kyle in jumbo packages so it's something that they did last year but they can be that much better this year. Your value isn't determined by whether or not you're a starter and you're on the field for the whole game.
CSR: This offseason you've gotten a lot of NFL draft hype. You've been included in a lot of mocks for next year. Are you aware of that, how much attention do you pay to that stuff?
DY: You're aware of it because sometimes it will pop up on social media or something with you mentioned in it so you get a notification or twitter, but other than that it's something that you don't need to pay attention to. It's not necessary. I'm excited to go out and play this season of college football and have a great time with all of my guys on the team and of course still do well in school.