Tom: First of all Aundrey, thank you for your time, I really appreciate the chance to talk with you more in depth and I know you’re busy.
Tom: What was it like playing on USC last year?
Aundrey: I mean it was different from High School. I feel like camp here made you a man, and made you actually realize “did you want to play this game, do you want to play this sport” and at USC the team, the coaches, it’s a lot of love. I had a great time last season and I’m really looking forward to this season.
Tom: What ultimately made you decide to go and stay at USC despite the sanctions?
Aundrey: It was just my dream, it was my dream school and when I got the offer I was lost for words because it was just three years ago I was watching them on TV and now I had a chance to be a USC player so I thought why not take it. It wasn’t just looking at the football side, it was academics too. You can do a lot of things with a USC degree so I knew it was a good route to take.
Tom: What was the team’s mindset like given the 2nd and last year of the bowl ban?
Aundrey: The mindset was just go out there and have fun. I mean, we really didn’t worry about the bowl sanctions to be honest. It was more about establishing team unity and becoming more of a family. We just went out there and played, went out there and played as a team.
Tom: Is the team excited to finally have a chance at a BCS bowl game again?
Aundrey: Oh of course. It’s always been a dream for a high school kid to come to college and play in a bowl game. I’m happy that we have the opportunity to compete for a bowl and we are all looking forward to it.
Tom: What was your playing weight during the season last year?
Aundrey: Last year in January I was 378 on my visit here at USC and I went back home and my Uncle was told me “you can’t go to college at that weight” and I came to USC at 352. But through all that I was gaining weight as I was at USC. Mini-camp came around and I got down to 346, then I went home in December at 344 or 342 and came back 330. I just kept going through the training and weight lifting with the whole training staff and I lost 30 more pounds to get down to 296. That was my last time I weighed in at 296. It really only took me four months to lose all that weight.
Tom: That is amazing Aundrey. You should be really proud of that. Obviously you changed your eating habits, but what kind of weight training did you do to help you lose so much weight?
Aundrey: It was a lot of conditioning, a lot of running, a lot of cardio. And when we lift weights it will be low weight but heavy reps so you burn more fat.
Tom: Do you feel faster now that you are under 300 pounds?
Aundrey: Oh yeah of course, I feel like a gazelle out there.
Tom: What has playing lighter changed most about your game?
Aundrey: I’m more explosive and quicker off the ball and I feel like I can compete. When I played at 346 I was very sluggish and I lost my breath a lot. Within five plays I would lose my breath, but now I can play forever I feel like.
Tom: I remember reading that you said you were “surprised” that you were named the left tackle over Kevin Graf, did you expect to be at right tackle this year?
Aundrey: It was really just, whatever my team needed me to do I was going to do it. That was my mindset. If I was right tackle, right guard, left tackle, center it doesn’t matter. I was just out there working and they switched me over and if I got the opportunity to play left tackle why not take it. I worked hard and I’m still working hard to maintain this spot.
Tom: I read that Graf started out the spring at left tackle, but shortly after you were at left tackle the rest of the way. Is that true?
Tom: What was your reaction when the team moved you to the left side?
Aundrey: Did you say what was the team’s reaction?
Tom: No what was your reaction, but yeah both!
Aundrey: I mean the team was happy with it, it was a coaching decision and they felt comfortable with me playing there. I have to go out there and play hard every play to help keep Matt Barkley protected. But I was happy obviously, a very good feeling.
Tom: Did your offensive line coach mention anything to you about things you were doing well during spring ball?
Aundrey: I don’t ask him much about that, I’m more of a guy who likes to work on my game and work on the flaws of it so he’s going to send me a cut-up of things where I need to improve. We’re more focused on those things.
Tom: What are some of the things you think you need to work on?
Aundrey: I would say my point of contact, I think I open up a bit too much in pass pro just being honest with myself, I think I need to work on that. If I stop opening up so quick I think I can be a great pass protector.
Tom: I know you said you like to focus on where you need to improve, but if you had to pick one of your greatest strengths as an offensive tackle what would it be?
Aundrey: I like to pull and to get out in space and POUND dudes.
Tom: Did you pick anything up from Matt Kalil while you were at USC with him?
Aundrey: Oh yeah I picked up a lot from him! The reason I was so determined was because of him. He told me that I have to grind. He told me the left tackle spot was open and I had to go out and take it. I promised him I would come back at 320 pounds and I did. So I mean I always looked at him and his pass protecting, he was a great pass protector, a great run blocker. He was just an all around great player and athlete.
Tom: Would you say he’s one of your mentors for the position?
Aundrey: Oh of course, of course.
Tom: Do you have any other mentors?
Aundrey: I work with LeCharles Bentley, he helps me a lot.
Tom: Did you ever get to go up against Nick Perry in practice?
Aundrey: I think it happened one time. It was a lot to handle it really was, knowing that he was a big NFL prospect.
Tom: Did you stop him or did he get you?
Aundrey: Umm… It was at the point of contact and I couldn’t really move him he’s just a brick.
Tom: Are there any players on defense that stuck out to you during the spring? Anyone I might not have heard about?
Aundrey: Everybody who is on defense right now is stickin’ out.
Tom: Give me one player who really balled out on defense.
Aundrey: TJ. But that’s normal for TJ, he’s a great player. On the whole we have a great defense. Dion [Bailey], Hayes [Pullard], Lamar [Holmes], Wes Horton, Nickell Robey.
Tom: Anyone on offense that has especially impressed you?
Aundrey: Same. All around we are a great team I feel like. Offense we have targets, defense we have talent. I can speak for everybody. Our whole offensive line, quarterback, running back, receivers, tight end, everybody is talented.
Tom: Do you feel any added pressure being the only new starter on the offensive line?
Aundrey: No, not at all.
Tom: I mentioned earlier that you’ve got a little nastiness to you, is there anyone else on the offensive line like that?
Aundrey: Khaled Holmes. He’s a great guy, a great role model. He’s very smart, very intelligent. He knows everything. The whole playbook, he’s like another coach away from the coaches.
Tom: That’s great to hear. I like John Martinez too, what’s the story on him?
Aundrey: Oh, John Martinez? Oh my god he’s an animal. Just one word: animal. That defines John Martinez.
Tom: I really like that he can play center and guard, I like that versatility.
Aundrey: Oh yeah absolutely. I mean he came in as the #1 recruit as a center right?
Tom: I think so. Oh, and tell me he still has the afro from last year.
Aundrey: Oh yeah he has braids now though.
Tom: Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming season, both for the team and for yourself?
Aundrey: Just go out there and play, just have fun. That’s all it is, go out there and try to win every game, step by step, day by day.
Tom: Is there one game this year you are particularly looking forward to?
Aundrey: All games. All games are important and we just have to go game by game. There’s not one particular game I’m focused on because we need to win every game.
Tom: Is there a defensive lineman you are particularly excited to go up against?
Aundrey: I haven’t heard anything yet, probably during mini-camp and before the season I’ll hear something but no I’m not worried about anyone really.
Tom: What is one thing you would like the world to know about you that it may not already know?
Aundrey: I’m a great guy, I love to sing, and I’m determined and dedicated to be successful and failure is not an option.
Tom: Wow, that’s probably the best answer I’ve ever heard for that question. What’s your favorite song to sing?
Aundrey: My favorite thing to sing? Another Day, Another Dollar hahaha.
Tom: Haha! Good answer! My favorite thing to sing is any Eminem song.
Tom: Well that’s about all I’ve got, do you have any questions for me?
Aundrey: No not at all, thank you so much.
Tom: Great, well thank you for taking the time to talk with me and I am looking forward to watching you this season! I’m sure we’ll talk before the season, good luck with the rest of your training. When does summer camp start for you?
Aundrey: August 7th I believe.
Tom: Alright, well congratulations on all your progress, and I’ll be in touch! I’ll send you the link when I get the interview up on the site. Thanks again Aundrey.
Aundrey: Great, thank you.