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March 3, 2011Considered the No. 11-ranked offensive tackle in the country in 2009 coming out of West Scranton High School in Scranton, Pa., Penn State redshirt sophomore Eric Shrive has high expectations for his career as a Nittany Lion.
After a redshirt year his true freshman season, and action in only the Youngstown State and Indiana games last year, Shrive is more than ready to start contributing.
On an offensive line that is certain to see shakeups again following the graduations of Doug Klopacz, Stefen Wisniewski and Lou Eliades, Shrive (a natural tackle) says he's prepared to play at either tackle position, or the guard spots, if it provides him an opportunity to play.
Blue White Illustrated caught up with Shrive at Sunday's Uplifting Athletes video game challenge in State College to talk about winter workouts, spring practice, the upcoming season, and more! Check out our conversation, right here!
BWI: How are winter workouts going?
Shrive: Everything is going real well. I'm just getting excited to finish up winter workouts and get spring ball underway.
BWI: It's a real grind, this part of winter workouts, isn't it?
Shrive: Yeah. In high school, you worked out and then you didn't have anything until the next season, but we've got spring ball to look forward to. I think the whole team is excited. These have been the best winter workouts since I've been around.
BWI: Why is that?
Shrive: I just think everyone is on the same page this year. We've got a lot of young guys, and the senior leadership that we do have. I think everyone is just sort of coming together. Last season we had a sour taste in our mouths from that. Everyone is ready to compete in the spring.
BWI: Who are the guys that are stepping up and being a little more vocal this year?
Shrive: We've even got young guys stepping up. Devon Still, you've gotta look at him. He's a three-year starter. He's a big guy and he's someone to look forward to. Mike Mauti is always going to be a leader. He was a leader last year. Zordich, leader. Guys like that who are stepping up. And I think that we've got some young guys. There's a lot of vocal leaders out there. I can't really name everybody.
BWI: You spoke about the sour taste of last year. Does that bring people closer together?
Shrive: Yeah, you know, I think the classes that we have in here now are really close-knit classes. My class, this will be our third year together. The class ahead of us. I think everyone realizes that we don't just want to be average this year, we want to go out there and get the job done.
BWI: The offensive line was a work in progress through the entirety of the season. Matt Stankiewitch indicated that it might be coming together more quickly this year. Do you feel the same way?
Shrive: Yeah, I feel like the offensive line this year is a closer group of guys. There's six or seven offensive linemen here today, together. I think things like this actually bring our team together. And, the closer the offensive line gets, the farther the team is going to go.
BWI: What does the season have in store for you? Tackle, I assume?
Shrive: Tackle or guard, wherever. I just want to get on the field. So, wherever I'm needed that's where I'll be.
BWI: Have the coaches given you any indication?
Shrive: I think I'll start in the spring at tackle, but you never know what could happen or where I'll end up.
BWI: Left or right side?
Shrive: Right side. I've played guard, I've played tackle since I've been here so it doesn't really matter to me as long as I'm on the field.
BWI: Dick Anderson has talked about the interchangeability of most of the offensive linemen. The philosophy is to have the five best guys on the field. Is that the idea with you?
Shrive: Yeah, I think the idea is to just have the five best out there, then the second five best be ready to go after that. Interchangeability is a big thing because someone could go down and you have a tackle sliding to guard or things like that. But, I think from a practice standpoint, we just need to get the reps at the position we're going to play at because pass protection is lots different with being on the edge or being inside. Being out on the island or being wherever you're at.
BWI: Are you expecting to start in the spring?
Shrive: Well, I think Chima will be the first-string guy in the spring, but I'm going to work my butt off to prove myself.
BWI: You're teammates, but you have to compete, too. How do you maintain close relationships with guys you're competing against?
Shrive: Once you step across that blue line, every man for themselves. I think that's how we have to look at it and we'll get better as a team if everyone can do that and just push the guy ahead of them and push to be the starter.
BWI: Is there anything personally that you're trying to improve in your game?
Shrive: Yeah, my work at tackle is definitely pass blocking - being able to block the wide rusher from the outside. So, I think playing guard this season, playing tackle at both spots really got me prepared and I'll be ready to go in the spring.
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