Slimmer Oxendine hopes to be Britain’s defense leader – The Interior Journal

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LARRY VAUGHT

Collaborating columnist

Sometimes bigger isn’t always better.

Kentucky junior defensive lineman Octavious Oxendine felt like he needed to gain weight when he arrived in Kentucky and entered last season weighing nearly 320 pounds. Now he’s down to just 281 pounds and wants to play at that weight this season.

“I tried to lose weight. i wanted bI’m faster on my feet to move laterally and stuff like that. To be able to be faster than these big guys that I’m going to play against,” the former North Hardin standout said.

He started three of the UK’s first six games last season and had 15 tackles, two quarterback sacks and one quarterback rush. However, Oxendine suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU. He lost weight while in rehab but decided he would like to stay at a lighter weight.

He gave up pasta, his favorite food, and now freshIt’s faster and cooler than ever.

“I understood after my arrival here that I had to have strength and speed. I lost weight and I hope to have more speed and keep the same strength because of the way I trained and lost weight,” said Oxendine. “Hopefully I can put it all together this year.”

Oxendine said defensive coordinator Brad White and defensive line coach Anwar Stewart didn’t push him to lose weight.

“I think it was something versatile. Coach White had asked me if I felt faster at the weight I was when I was losing weight during rehab. I told him yes and he m said it was good to play there and after that I continued to build gradually,” said Oxendine.

White also likes what he saw.

“He has to be the leader of this group (defensive line). He trained so hard to get back to where he was before he got injured. It’s early days, but he looks explosive,” White said on UK Media Day. “Yes, his weight is down, but he looks stronger. He’s looser than he’s ever been in the past. He’s brimming with confidence.

White said he thought Oxendine could play any defensive line position. He even suggested he could potentially play linebacker in certain situations, a possibility Oxendine embraced.

“I think I could go back. I could play linebacker if he needed me,” said Oxendine, who has played just nine games in two years.

The defensive lineman could tell I seemed a little skeptical, especially about his fall in pass coverage.

“You really don’t think I have it?” He asked. “I could jump into the curl flats there. I understood. I could do it (succeed the cover) if that’s what I needed to do.

He’s even more confident that he can be the leader White and Stewart want him to be for a defensive line that has lost its inspirational leader in Josh Paschal, a Detroit Lions third-round pick. Oxendine is wise enough to know, however, that leadership must come from more than him.

“You can tell guys that age, but are they going to come and do it with you or not. You have to have that buy-in and everything falls into place for us,” Oxendine said. “In my mind, how good we can be as a team starts at the front and we have to be great.”

Oxendine says no player has impressed him with a big improvement. Instead, he believes all of his teammates are better.

“I’m not going to lie. I would say all guys. Not because they were bad, but I’ve seen a lot mature. It was a young group of guys, but they all agreed to come in and get the extra work and get to where we want to be,” the junior said.

Oxendine has had to put in a lot of extra space during rehabilitation to get where he is entering this season. He is back to 100% physically but admits rehabilitation has been tough mentally.

“It was a process that anyone who goes through rehab can tell you it’s a lonely situation you go through, but you do a lot of growing and maturing. I feel like I’ve matured a lot and that I became a better person, but it was hard,” he said. “It’s waking up in the morning and knowing that you were playing football a few weeks ago and now you’re walking with crutches and you can’t do a lot of things you could do before.

“It’s like getting into your mind, you have to. I tell guys in rehab now that you know you want to play football again, so you have to. You can’t stop. You have to do it and that’s what I did.

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