Like many of his defensive mates, linebacker Chase Vasser says it took him a while to get a firm grasp of the complexities that make up the 3-4 scheme of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
In fact, it may have taken him longer than most.
Vasser conceded there was a time where he wondered if he would ever come to terms with what Grantham was asking him to do, especially when his position coach is not shy about pointing out mistakes in a very vociferous way.
"It took a while. I took things too seriously. If I got yelled at or made a mistake, I couldn't handle it," Vasser said. "But coming into last season, I started taking the attitude if they don't like it, they don't like it. I did that, came out, had a great spring, just started flying around and playing with the attitude that I'd make the coaches notice me - make them all notice."
Apparently, that was the right approach to take.
Coming into Saturday's G-Day game at Sanford Stadium (3 p.m., ESPNU), the junior is the Bulldogs starter at Sam linebacker, playing opposite team sack-leader and All-American Jarvis Jones.
"It's good. It shows that Coach (Grantham) trusts me and he knows I love doing it. He's got a lot of confidence in me, but I've got to make sure I don't get complacent because I still need to get a lot better, because there are guys behind me starting to take my spot," Vasser said. "Last year, I was the guy behind. This year, I'm the one with the bulls-eye on my back, but I like it. It's a huge motivation. So after spring is over, it's time to get to work again."
Vasser is right when he says there will be plenty of competition for his spot come fall.
Although they've practiced almost exclusively at defensive end, Ray Drew and Cornelius Washington will occasionally still line up at outside backer, not to mention returnees Ramik Wilson, Reuben Faloughi and T.J. Stripling.
Come fall, freshman Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson and Josh Harvey-Clemons will be added to the mix.
But Vasser said anyone who plans to take his job will have their work cut out.
At 231 pounds, Vasser feels not only is he physically ready to handle the job of being an every-down player, but his knowledge of the defense is now such that he can basically serve as another coach on the field.
"When we go through walk through, you've got to make sure you pay attention, but it's not like you're intimidated with what' s going on. Now, you know what you're doing," Vasser said. "He (Grantham) can ask me checks now, and for example, I can tell him I'm dropping now so you're (another linebacker) coming inside. I've got to the point where I know what everybody else is doing."
It wasn't always that easy.
"I never thought I'd get to this point. I thought the system would be so complex I thought my mind was about to explode," he said. "The next year it was 'OK, I kind of get it' but as the season started l lost it again. But now, I feel much better. I understand what's going on."
No, he's trying to take his game a step further.
"I room with Austin (Long) and Kolton (Houston) and I told them I'm going to try and make them better every day," said Vasser. "I've got to the point where I've got a lot of confidence. I've just got to continue to get better."
Considering he's part of a defense expected to be one of the nation's finest this fall, there's pressure that goes with that, too.
That's certainly been the opinion of many during spring practice, which has seen the defense control most of the scrimmages, and the majority of the competitive drills.
"Me, Aaron (Murray) and Artie (Lynch) were talking about it the other day; no matter how we killed them in practice, they know they're going to get better because we feel like we're going to be one of the best defenses around," Vasser said. "We don't take any days off."
Apparently, neither does he.