Pipkins discusses his time off, how he's changed, how Tech's changed
The Red Raiders get the 2016 season kicked off against SFA on Saturday night, so the local media had a chance to sit down with a number of defensive players to talk about this year earlier in the week.
We sat down with senior nose tackle Ondre Pipkins to discuss how the year off went for him and just how he's seen the Texas Tech football program - and himself - change in that time.
Q: This season opener is a little different for you than most guys. Being that it's been so long since you last played a real football game at Michigan, what does this game this weekend really mean to you?
"It's exciting, man. I can't hold back. I can't front. It's truly exciting. To sit out because of the process, to wait the whole year, to transform myself, to get a little deeper in depth with your mind, it just changed me. I'm not going to hold back with feelings and expressions. It's here now, and you either attack or get attacked."
Q: So what do you think was the best thing for you during your year off? What did you learn about yourself?
"Man, I learned a lot about myself. I know I'm a strong individual, a strong man, a faithful man, and I just believed in my faith, talked to the people in my circle, my mother, my brother, anybody really that called my phone during that time off, because it seems like a lot of people forgot (about me). So, Saturday is really a lot about reminding. As for the program, I found out that it's moving in the right direction. The culture is changing from how they were, from last year's Texas Tech to how we train at Texas Tech now. How we're representing is way different now. That's another positive step."
Q: What do you think are the biggest markers or indications of, like you said, the program heading in the right direction?
"Coach Whitt. I can't front. Granted, I'd definitely like to say thank you to the last staff, too. All those guys helped me get acclimated, so thank you to them. But, just with Coach Whitt, how he's come in and put his foot down and said, 'Hey, this is how it's going to be.' If you don't like it, then you don't need to be a part of this group. You know what I mean? You add some leaders to the team such as Luke Stice and myself to the mix, and it's pretty black and white with us. So, we get after the young guys and let them know that this will be tolerated, but that won't be tolerated. So, that's just to touch on Coach Whitt and how it's changed. That's the stamp right there. It's Coach Rusty Whitt."
Q: I the last six months, what's been the biggest change with him and the new strength staff?
"How accountable we are. We're held to a higher standard. We say we're grown men, but you've got to act like grown men. You've got to handle your business like a grown man. That's the biggest change. Coach Kingsbury's turned it up a notch in the last six months, too. Myself and Coach Patrick have gotten closer, too. In the spring it was a little bumpy, but now we're smooth sailing. That was just part of us getting to know each other. He understands me, and I understand him. He wants to win big rings, he wants to change the culture, and I'm going to be behind him 110 percent, even after I leave here. I'm still going to come back and check on my guys, cause they're my brothers."
Q: So how has it been getting to know Coach Patrick? Could you go into that a little more?
"It's been fun. I get a joy out of getting to know people. especially coaches, because we all come from different walks of life. So, just getting to know him, how much he just loves to win. He comes from that culture. He let's you know that this is how it's going to go, and there's no other way around it. I respect that so much from him, and know we're starting to act like that. We let guys know when something isn't going to cut it. We're checking ourselves as well as checking each other."
Q: And how much do you listen to him after you know what type of playing career he had at Miami?
"Oh, you for sure listen a lot. You listen a lot, because as for my, as for myself, I haven't won anything in my whole college career. He has. So, I definitely sit and listen to that man. He's a University of Miami Hall of Famer, he was an all-American there. You have no choice but to respect that and listen to him."
Q: Going into this weekend, what do you expect out of the defensive line as a group?
"I feel like we have a lot more room to grow, myself included. It starts with me with my leadership, being consistent with my play. I'm really just looking forward to us going out there and having fun. I'm not going to put no predictions on any of my guys or any numbers on any guys. I just want us to go out there and have fun, align right, do assignments right, and play football. If we do that, we'll be good. Everything else will take care of itself because we do have a talented front."