DURHAM, N.C. – With the spring game just a week away, GoDuke.com sat down with redshirt junior Nick Sink to talk about spring practice, carrying momentum from last season and his transition from defensive line to tight-end.
GoDuke.com: How has spring practice been so far?
Nick Sink: Spring practice has been great. I was switched to tight end before the bowl game, and I didn’t play tight end in the bowl game, but I was kind of handed the offensive playbook and was told, “OK you have four or five days before bowl practice starts, so learn the offense” so I attempted that and got the basic concept, but didn’t really get the in’s and the out’s of it, which was frustrating. But spring ball, especially with a new coach [Zac Roper], at least a new position coach, has been good. He has taught me a lot. I pretty much know the offense like the back of my hand now, all of the checks and hand signals and everything. I am loving it.
GoDuke.com: How does it feel to be back on the field after a few weeks off?
NS: It’s great to be back. Playing in the bowl game was great, but usually we start practicing in the second week of February, but since we made the bowl game, Coach Cutcliffe backed it up a couple of weeks. The anticipation was pretty rough. We were ready to go after four or five weeks of lifting, its what we’re used to but we had to wait a few extra weeks. I can’t believe next Saturday is our spring game already, but spring ball has been wonderful. I’m thrilled to be back out there.
GoDuke.com: After such a successful season, how do you carry that momentum into the spring?
NS: We just move on and adapt. We lost Sean [Renfree] and Conner [Vernon], which are two very key parts to our team, but Anthony [Boone] played a lot last year. He won us the Virginia game when Sean was out. Of course we’ve got Jamison [Crowder] back. We’ve changed, well I’ve heard we’ve changed a couple of things on offense; I wasn’t there last year, but from what they’ve said, things are different. It’s a lot more up-tempo and giving more freedom to the quarterback. And we are running the ball more.
GoDuke.com: What has been the most difficult part of transitioning from defensive line to tight end?
NS: The conditioning part has been rough. When I was playing defensive tackle I was 305 pounds, and for tight end they want me to be 265, so the goal is to lose 40 pounds. They’ve been on me, but they also understand that the weight I gained for defensive line wasn’t bad weight, it was solid weight so losing it is going to be pretty rough. It’s going to take a while. I’m around 286 right now, so I’ve already dropped about 20 pounds. I’m close to my goal, and I’ve got until August, so that’s probably been the most difficult part. With catching the ball, I did play defense for the first three years, but I always threw around with guys after practice just in case.
GoDuke.com: As a defensive linemen, you probably weren’t in the spotlight very often. Now that you are a tight end, how does it feel to be a part of scoring drives, touchdowns and the like?
NS: There’s not really a lot of glory associated with defensive line, especially interior defensive line. We’re known for just clogging holes and making one or two plays a game but nothing special. Our offense is as explosive as it’s been since I’ve been here. It’s great. I get to celebrate a touchdown now with my teammates on the field instead of being on the sidelines, and I’m not getting upset when someone scores on me on defense, which is a nice change. I get to show a little more emotion when I’m out there now, but the switch has been great. I’m enjoying it. Eyes wide open, I’m taking anything they tell me, I am “yes sir, no sir,” whatever you want me to do, I’m doing it.
GoDuke.com: Now that you moved to the offensive side of the ball, how have your defensive line teammates been treating you?
NS: It’s been good. They see me as the enemy now, which is fair. When I came in my recruiting class, there were seven of us who were defensive linemen, and six of them are still there while I move to the other side of the ball. Instead of playing next to these guys, I’m lining up across from them and trying to hit them in the mouth, which is fun, but also a challenge. I know what they do, and how they react to things so it’s not cheating, but I know their tendencies and it makes them mad because I know what they are going to do. There is definitely a rivalry between the guys on defensive line and me. They’re out to get me because I’ve put them on their back a few times in practice and talked a little bit of trash to them. You’ve got to. But it’s been great, they’ve been really supportive. They sometimes get on me about losing that 40 pounds, but besides that they’ve been great.
GoDuke.com: With some new faces on offense this season, how has the chemistry been so far?
NS: Chemistry has been better than I thought it would be. Timing is huge on our offense as much as we throw the ball, and not having Boone throw to me for three years or not seeing me run a route, I thought would be a problem. And [Thomas] Sirk hasn’t thrown to me, but he’s only been here for one season. But it hasn’t been too rough. It’s just about making sure that I get to my depth and make my break clean, and they’ll know I’ll be there. I thought it would be the hardest thing, but it’s gone pretty smooth.
GoDuke.com: With the spring game rapidly approaching, what do you hope to see both as a team and individually?
NS: As a team we’re just trying to show people that although we lost two key parts to our offense in Sean [Renfree] and Conner [Vernon], we’re not going anywhere. We are going to legitimize ourselves as a bowl team every year, and last year was not a fluke. This is who we are and this is what Coach Cutcliffe has been working for since he got here. This is going to be a permanent thing now, and that is what we want to show on both offense and defense. If anyone comes into our house or anywhere that we go, it’s going to be a fight with us. Individually, my goal is to not drop any passes, do my assignments, make big blocks, celebrate with my teammates and just have fun.