August 16, 2012

Q&A: TJ, Giachinta, Mendenhall, Schurr & White

On August 15th at 8:00am, the Black Knights of Army could be found practicing at the Foley Center, where GBK's Timothy Park and James Hill had the opportunity to watch the team as the coaches' barked orders, and the players responded with a very physical Wednesday practice session.

Park and Hill had the opportunity to sit down with six of the freshmen, and returning senior running back Jared Hassin. Check out what they had to say during yesterday's Q&A segment relative to this upcoming year.

GBK: What was the most challenging part of Beast for you?
Dalton Mendenhall: All of the things we had to do that we didn't do at prep. Learning about the crew-served weapons, the repel, and the other confidence courses that you had to overcome.

GBK: What has been the most challenging part of practice thus far?
Dalton Mendenhall: Learning all of the new plays. At prep, we only learned a small portion of the defense. So for me, it was learning different positions, because I've already played three different positions so it's just adapting to that.

GBK: What's been the most eye opening experience so far as a Black Knight?
Dalton Mendenhall: The most eye opening experience for me is probably the speed and the tempo of the game. The tempo with the guy across from you is a lot different than last year.

GBK: Did the transition from USMAPS make the transition a lot easier going into West Point?
Tala Atimalala: Yeah it did, I already knew about half the stuff we did in the beginning of Beast, and with PT and everything I was already used to that.

GBK: What was your weight pre-beast and your weight post-beast?
Tala Atimalala: I only lost about eight pounds from the start of beast to the end of beast. During beast, anytime we would practice here, they would always have a lot of good food and feed us a lot.

GBK: Does it feel good to be back on the football field?
Tala Atimalala: Oh yes it does. I love football. So being around all the guys feels like home again.

GBK: Is there a veteran player that has helped you out along the way or who you look up to?
Tala Atimalala: All of the defensive lineman, but mostly Big Mike Kime), Bobby, Glover, and Keller. Those guys have always been on my back, helping me out with the plays.

GBK: What has been the most challenging experience you've had so far?
Tala Atimalala: Starting my way up from the bottom, and working my way up to the top. So, coming in as a freshman, there are already upperclassmen that I have to compete with. I'm just trying to make it on the traveling team - it's pretty hard, but I just have to keep working my butt off.

GBK: What was the most challenging aspect of beast for you?
Matt Giachinta: For me, I had ACL surgery at the prep school, and I didn't really get a chance to run long distances prior to beast, so my biggest challenge was running every morning because I was a little out of shape.

GBK: What was your weight pre-beast and your weight post-beast?
Matt Giachinta: I came in around 208, left around 198.

GBK: What has been the most eye-opening experience you've had as a college football player?
Matt Giachinta: Just realizing the speed of the game and noticing how much quicker, even from prep school. It's just a million times faster, so adjusting to that has been tough.

GBK: Is there a veteran player that has helped you out along the way or who you look up to?
Matt Giachinta: Yeah, I've been working a lot with Larry Dixon and Dan McGue.

GBK: Did the transition from USMAPS make the transition a lot easier going into West Point?
Kelvin White: It made it a lot easier because the majority of the squad comes straight out of high school, but those who have had experience in the military or at prep school allow the entire squad to get better every day.

GBK: Obviously, you're a natural leader as a quarterback, how is the transition in taking your leadership abilities from beast, to the football field.
Kelvin White: Yeah, it's kind of difficult being a freshman, because you don't want to do too much. You don't want to be the big man on campus or anything. You just want to learn the ropes, and do what you're told. Being a natural leader is difficult when you have to step up as the youngest on the block.

GBK: What has been the most eye-opening experience you've had as a college football player?
Kelvin White: The speed. It's so much faster. Everything we do is full tilt. There's no walking on the field. Just being at the right place at the right time. Doing what you're supposed to do. Whatever you do right, the coaches are expecting you to do, but when you mess up the coaches will let you know. The fast pace contributes to the pressure but once you learn how to cope with that pressure, that's when you become great.

GBK: In your position what has been the most challenging task?
Kelvin White: For me, it's the footwork. I have to get faster feet. I have to get faster hands. And dealing with the competition. On the freshman level we got A.J (Schurr), and then having to compete with the upperclassman to make that travel team.

GBK: Is there a veteran player that has helped you out along the way or who you look up to?
Kelvin White: Yeah, Trent Steelman. He's been playing in this offense for four years, and on the field he's just like a General out there. That's what I want to be like.

GBK: What was the most challenging part of beast for you?
AJ Schurr: I thought PT in the morning. Pushups and sit-ups weren't bad but definitely the running was tough. It was hard not to sound conceited, but coming from prep you knew a little more than the others, but I tried my best to stay humble.

GBK: Does it feel good to be back on the football field?
AJ Schurr: Yeah it's definitely a relief because during beast, your mind is focused on so many other things, but to finally have all the focus on football is a good thing for me.

GBK: Can you explain the challenge you are about to have in balancing school and football?
AJ Schurr: I'm not 100% confident in excelling through both, but there is definitely a little apprehension. I'm confident I can balance it though, I have a lot of great guys around me who will give me the support to succeed.

GBK: What has been the most challenging experience you've had so far?
AJ Schurr: Transitioning from Beast to football. Going from Army shape to Football shape is completely different. You go from waking up and running a couple of miles to now taking hits and sprinting. Also the tempo of the game - it's a lot faster and there's a little bit more stuff to know.


Keep it right here on GoBlackKnights.com ... up next is GBK's Q&A with senior running back, Jared Hassin.

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