Q&A: Alabama senior tight end Brian Vogler
It was a different offseason for University of Alabama tight end Brian Vogler, who like so many other football players over the years had a moment of clarity when suddenly realizing that he was about to be a senior.
Although Vogler had earned his undergraduate degree before last season, this could be his final go-around as a football player in general, and will definitely be at the collegiate level. Granted at 6 foot 7 he’ll almost certainly get a shot in the National Football League, only one never knows how that will go, or how long it could last.
“I cherish it a little bit more knowing it’s my last opportunity to get better and prove who I am to the coaches knowing I can be an asset to this offense,” the fifth-year player said as Vogler redshirted 2010.
The subsequent three years he played in 35 games, with 11 receptions for 98 yards, most during last season after becoming an every-down starter.
After recently participating in Austin Shepherd’s “Jocks and Locks” fund-raiser, in which various players raised close to $18,000 by allowing people to bid for the right to determine their haircuts, Vogler reflected on his career and few other things:
So how are you a better player this season?
“This summer and this spring, I’ve come in with a whole new attitude of I want to be the first-in, last-out kind of guy and that’s the identity I’m trying to create as a player. I’ve put on some mass, put on a couple pounds, lost body-fat percentage and it’s something I’ve really taken to heart, something I’ve really wanted to do going into this last year.”
Why is that? Why the change?
“I just was seeing guys do so well, you know, and looking at last year how things ended. I suffered from a couple injuries throughout the year and I think it was because my body wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be. I think I can help my body out by being in better shape and being a little bit stronger to protect myself, I can go throughout the season being healthier.”
You’re really playing for the first time with a quarterback other than AJ McCarron. As a receiving option does it take a while to get used to the different throws?
“For me not so much because everything is relatively short. But it’s hard to say for the other guys.”
You’re also playing for your third different offensive coordinator. What have you been learning from Lane Kiffin?
“His experience and knowledge is beneficial for all of us. If I do something, if I make a wrong read, he tells me why it was wrong as opposed to just yelling at me and saying ‘You’re wrong.’ He says why you’re wrong. You should have done this instead of this. This is how you should read it. His knowledge is just helping us out tremendously.”
Nick Saban has said that the offense could be more up-tempo and go no-huddle like a lot of other teams are doing, but is that actually a realistic option?
“It’s hard to say just because all of us, everybody that’s involved in the offense now has been in the pro-style. It’s hard for me to say right now if that would work for us. I think we’re a team that’s made to be maulers. Guys are just going to be really physical with you, hit you from every aspect of the game and hit you in every direction. I just don’t know if that’s really our style of being speedy and trying to be elusive around everybody and dodge people like other schools do.”
What’s he like away from the practice field?
“For the most part, he’s pretty calm. Keeps to himself around us. Every now and then if you did something in practice, he’ll make a joke about it. Just try and put you on the spot about it. Other than that, he’s pretty calm, pretty collected.”
Alabama didn’t attempt too many passes to tight ends last season. Is it safe to say that there will be more attempts this year?
“I sure hope so. That’d be awesome. Wouldn’t hurt to put some more things on film.”
You’re both Georgia guys, what’s quarterback Blake Sims like off the field?
“He’s a really high-energy guy. He’s somebody that wants to be everybody’s friend. Blake and I have known each other since we were sophomores in high school, just with the whole recruiting thing and both of us being from Georgia and through the basketball circuit. So we’ve gotten to know each other really well, we’re really close on and off the field. But watching him interact with other guys, there’s not a guy on the team that he doesn’t get along with. He goes out of his way to make sure he knows people. And when you can see that somebody is having a bad day, he’s that guy that’s there to pick them up.”
Did you ever play on the same team or against each other before Alabama?
“Well we never played against each other. Obviously his coaches were trying to talk me to transfer up there his senior year. We did a little 7-on-7 together going into our senior year together. Their coaches were trying to talk me into going up there and playing with him. We saw each other a lot. We saw each other at combines together, and we played on national 7-on-7 tournaments together.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen him do?
“It’s hard to say. I’ve seen him run off a wall and do a backflip before. That was pretty impressive. But I’ve been growing up with that my whole life. Obviously I do that for fun to start off every practice. I think that’s one of the most athletic things I’ve seen him do.”
We don’t know a whole lot about Ty Flournoy-Smith, who transferred from Georgia Military College other than he played as a freshman at Georgia. What can you tell is about him?
“He’s a hard worker. You can tell him being at an SEC system that he understands concepts, which is good coming in as opposed to a freshman who is still trying to learn the game of football. So it helps out a lot to help us.”
Overall, with everyone back it’s a more veteran group of tight ends this season. How does that translate to the practice field?
“Obviously, nobody can be perfect. Everybody wants to be a perfectionist but perfect is not obtainable. For us, we have the goal of being excellent on every play we’re out there. Excellence is what we’re striving for. We’re looking at a lot of stuff we did last year from things that didn’t really work that well for us. We’re working on how we can improve that but also making general improvements.”
What does former defensive lineman Dakota Ball bring to tight ends?
“He brings a lot of intensity. He’s the biggest out of all of us, weight-wise. He knows how to hold a point at the edge. He brings a lot of things – and he’s learning, which is great. Each day he’s getting better. Obviously, he asks a lot of questions like a guy who would transition from the defensive side of the ball. It’s not like somebody that’s on offense moving to another position. So he’s still trying to learn terms and concepts.”
Is he toughest of you guys?
“No, it’s me. Does the haircut not convince you?”