Adjustment periods are downright no fun. We all go through them in different stages in life as new opportunities and challenges arise, and they're a part of the learning curve that can make or break a myriad of different life events.
Football is no different, especially when making the jump from high school to college. On top of getting in the groove of expectations within a program, getting the hang of things in school, and learning to live on your own as an adult for the first time, some players have to go through physical transformations to reach their potential.
That's certainly been the case for defensive lineman Lonzell Gilmore. After redshirting in 2015, the Spring, Texas native saw some snaps as a backup a year ago, spelling some older, more experienced vets on the line.
Gilmore looked to be a steal out of high school as a big framed, athletic edge player with a ton of upside, but after seeing sparing play in 2016, many wondered if there was a snag or other issue holding the redshirt freshman back.
This spring, however, it's been a different story. Gilmore has looked to be one of the top playmakers off the edge, making tackles for loss and disrupting things as both a pass rusher and run defender.
According to the man himself, it was a matter of a few things.
First and foremost, he simply had to get used to his new body. He was a lanky, long prospect coming out of high school at roughly 220 pounds, and now he's grown into a much beefier 260.
"I'm getting more comfortable with all the weight I've put on," said Gilmore. "At first it was kind of hard to get used to putting on so much weight. We've got a good training staff, and they're helping me get used to my body weight, use that speed that I once had when I was 220. It's also about having more stamina so I'm able to last longer from play to play."
But Gilmore knew it was a necessary wall he had to break through.
"There's no 210 pound defensive ends in the Big 12, so just to put on all that weight and feel like an actual defensive end, it feels amazing. I'm finally getting used to it, can use my body how I want to now. I would say it was definitely a plus to put on the weight."
The other wall he needed to climb was comprised of X's and O's. David Gibbs' playbook and the responsibilities it threw at him made for a hefty mental meal he had to take time to digest.
"It was definitely (a lot more) plays than I was used to. In high school it was go in this gap or go in this gap. Now, you've got to think more, react more, and now playing rush is kind of different than playing defensive end, so it's just like a lot of thinking that goes towards it. It's not just about playing. There's a mental part to it as well."
"Last year was my first year actually playing, so just getting used to the playbook and all that was kind of hard at first. It just took a lot of studying and knowing what I had to do to be there for my brothers, because I know if something happens, they'll need me to depend on, and it's not fair for me to not know my plays to help them out. The main thing was really just studying."
And now, as a full time rush end splitting reps with Kolin and Kaleb Hill, Gilmore feels he's up to the challenge. Some of that confidence has come from new defensive line coach Terrance Jamison, who's had some words of encouragement that have stuck with the sophomore.
"Coach Jamison is a great coach. He has a lot of motivational words for each practice that helps lift all the defensive linemen and helps us become better men. One quote he told us was to always have confidence and have fun, and every practice, every game I stick to it, and it gets to me, cause if you're not having fun, you're not going to play as well as you think, so it's all about having fun, having confidence, and not being scared of anybody in front of you."
And according to Gilmore, that confidence is something the whole defense will have to embrace if they want to reach new heights in 2017.
"We all have the courage and faith to know we be a top defense in the nation. We've just got to put our mind to it. It starts with that individual person, so you've got to focus on yourself before you focus on the team. It's just about everybody helping each other out to be accountable for their actions."