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March 8, 2013

Spring Ball Quick Hitter: Luke Kaumatule

The departure of Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo left a significant vacancy at the tight end position. And while reinforcements in the form of three incoming freshmen tight ends will arrive in the spring, freshman Luke Kaumatule certainly seems to be the leader in the clubhouse to claim one of the starting tight end spots.

Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Kaumatule after a recent Stanford practice to discuss his health, his switch from defense in high school to offense and college, and the departure of former tight ends coach Ron Crook.

Cardinal Sports Report: How did it go out there today. Seemed like you made a few plays. Feel pretty good?

Luke Kaumatule: It felt great. I had a lot of fun, just trying to execute the plays that Coach Morgan and Coach Shaw tell us in the meeting rooms.

CSR: I know you had a pretty bad knee injury early in your senior year of high school. What's the recovery been like from that and how are you doing now?

LK: I feel like I'm almost back. I've been getting better every day with (head athletic trainer Steve Bartlinski's) rehab and I've just been doing my own thing in the training room and in the weight room with Coach Turley.

CSR: You were also a defensive player primarily in high school, so how did that transition come about for you and what was it like?

LK: It was kind of tough for me in the beginning learning offensive plays, learning how to react as an offensive player, but with the help of Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, they helped me get to where I am today, and Coach Crook and Coach Morgan also.

CSR: How would you describe last year? You were in some games, made a big block in that USC game, but also I'd imagine some learning. What was last year like for you?

LK: Last year was really a lot of learning. I had a few plays here and there, getting some experience, but I'm learning a lot now in the spring that we didn't really cover in last season. So I'm happy about it.

CSR: With Coach Turner and Coach Crook, how much did Coach Turner actually work with the tight ends last year?

LK: Coach Crook was basically the blocking behind the tight end, and Coach Morgan was pass routes and stuff like that, concepts in the passing game.

CSR: So it's been a pretty seamless transition for you with Coach Turner now?

LK: It's like a win-win situation. Coach Crook gets to go home and Coach Morgan comes back. It's not like we get a new tight end coach that I'm not familiar with. I'm really happy that Coach Morgan came back.

CSR: What is the No. 1 priority for you this spring?

LK: Just to become better as a football player and be able to contribute to the team this coming fall.

CSR: Is there anything specific that you and Coach Turner and Coach Crook had identified as an emphasis?

LK: I just need to get all of my steps down in the blocking perspective and also understanding key concepts in the passing game as well. There's always something I can get better at and improve at.

CSR: Finally, you're obviously a long way from home in Hawaii. Culturally, feeling at home here, how's that transition been for you?

LK: it was kind of tough leaving my family at home, but it's great for me out here because my mom's side of the family is all here in the bay so I know all of them. Another great thing is my teammates out here they're just so welcoming. It's easy to click. It hasn't been hard for me to transition because of all the great guys around here, so I'm happy about that also.

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