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October 12, 2012

Fifteen minutes with Eric Lefeld and Parker Ehinger

Back by popular demand are representatives of the University of Cincinnati offensive line, Eric Lefeld and Parker Ehinger. Without a moment's consideration starting left tackle Lefeld dutifully lined up to field multiple questions on Parker's left.

All questions are italicized.

Jason Kelce was at the game in D.C. Was that nice to see him on the sideline?
Eric Lefeld: Yeah. He 'Represented the C' than anybody I have known since I have been here. It was great have more support on the sideline and just seeing him again definitely helped pick up the morale and something about guys coming back is just really important to this program.

When you see an NFL player from your position, does that tell you that you can make it in the NFL?
Parker Ehinger: Yeah, definitely. Seeing other people that make it, you know, you have that feeling inside that you want to get there someday. I want to be in his same position. I want to follow in his footsteps.
Lefeld: You realize that the foundation is set here. You have great coaches, great program, a winning program. Everything is inline for you to be successful. All you have to do it do the right things and work hard.

How is Munchie (Legaux) coming along as a vocal leader? I know Coach Jones was requesting that he command the offense more inside the huddle and presnap.
Ehinger: He has been doing a pretty good job. I think he has stepped into the leader role pretty well.
Lefeld: He does a great job vocalizing. If we do have a loud crowd we look at him and he will get it right. We haven't really had to get on him about it. He is good with voice inflection.
Ehinger: He does a good job.
Lefeld: Hasn't been a problem.

Personally who are some of your biggest supporters?
Lefeld: Biggest supporters? You have got to say the family.
Ehinger: I definitely say family too.
Lefeld: They travel to every game.
Ehinger: My family travels six hours every game to see me play.
Who is that?
Ehinger: My family. Mom, dad, brother when he can.
Is he younger or older?
Ehinger: He is older. He coaches Division III football.
Oh, what school?
Ehinger: Albion College.
In Michigan, right?
Ehinger: Yep.
Beautiful campus.
Ehinger: Oh, yeah. He played there too, so it was nice for him to get a job there.
What position does he coach?
Ehinger: He coaches safeties.

How many times a day are you asked if you play football?
Ehinger: (Laughter)
Lefeld: (Laughter) You carry a jug with you on campus you get a lot of heads turning.
Ehinger: I don't even know. I couldn't give a real estimate to that. All the time. You get people looking at you or just people saying, 'Wow you are humongous or, Wow you are tall.'
Lefeld: Guys like us we look so good walking on campus so… (Smiles)

They say football player or model?
Ehinger: They say that or basketball player.
Lefeld: The thing is we can jump too. They don't want to see us on the basketball court. These handles. Yeah, you get a lot of people asking.

You guys ever use your football credentials to your benefit? Maybe cut in line at cafeteria?
Lefeld: Nah. That is illegal.
Ehinger: Nah, can't do that. I just try to blend in with the crowd when I am on campus.
Lefeld: People like being associated and you can't act like you are above everybody else. People like being around you and if you show people attention and you really listen to them that is just another follower of the football team. That happened to me in a couple classes where kids had some curious questions about football. You just give them a little bit of time and then they know that much more about us and what we are trying to do here in the football program.

You guys have any groupies? Any stragglers?
Lefeld: Haha.
Ehinger: No. No.
Lefeld: We don't have that much time outside of football.
Ehinger: Yeah. It's classes and football. If I have free time I am sleeping, trying to get my rest.

Do you wear your jerseys off campus ever? I'm referring to a not for profit thing or visiting a school or hospital.
Ehinger: We get to wear our jersey and stuff when we do charity events. Community service we wear our jerseys.
Lefeld: When you go to a kid's school.
Ehinger: They see a big guy in a jersey and it is kind of like we are their heroes.

How do they react?
Ehinger: It is like they are seeing a big NFL star, because they don't get to see that everyday. It is a pretty cool moment for them. You can tell. You can see it in their eyes.

Do you remember being that kid?
Ehinger: Yeah, definitely. We did that type of thing when I was real young in elementary school. They brought high school players in and I thought that was like meeting and NFL player. And meeting an NFL player when I was getting older that was even better. You just wanted to be one of those players in the future, be where they are at. Be all popular and all that.

Traveling secrets.
Lefeld: You gotta get in first class.
Ehinger: I haven't been so lucky to get into first class yet. I am going on my third start, well now fourth start and I still haven't been in first class but it is alright. Definitely get your rest. And you have to be focused on the game too. No goofing around at the hotel. You have to basically; we have a great offensive line coach. It is all about football, strictly football.

Do you get to sleep earlier than you would prefer probably?
Ehinger: Eh, I like getting my rest too. I am more attentive and more awake when I get my rest too.
Lefeld: You sleep great. You eat great. You get plenty of time. Most of our games seem to be late so you get to focus, you get notes from our offensive line coach, stuff to go over. You kind of zone out and focus. It is a big build up. It is unlike any other feeling.

Do you sleep on the bus and plane? Do you read or do homework?
Ehinger: Well, we get to watch movies and we get food on the plane. We get to listen to music. Sometimes I will go over my playbook, just getting ready for the game.
Lefeld: I think going to the game you are a little bit more focused. You don't want to be messing around, doing anything. Coming back you are a little bit more relaxed. You can watch a horror movie or something.

What is your GPA?
Lefeld: (Sigh) I am at a 3.5 cumulative.
Ehinger: I am about a 3.1 cumulative.

Do you like the difference between quarters and semesters format?
Lefeld: Can't tell yet.
Ehinger: It is hard to tell. I used to go on semesters in high school and then we switched to trimesters, which is kind of like quarters. I can't really tell the difference yet. It is just less classes to pick and you have bigger classes.

'Next man in' is a common principle used in football. My question isn't about the man being replaced or sitting with injury. Do you keep in touch with a guy like Sean Hooey or does he get ostracized when injured?
Ehinger: No, with Sean Hooey he will come in and watch film with us. We visited him in the hospital a couple times. He was down. At first they told him he might miss a long period of time, might not be able to come back so he was pretty down about that so we visited him in the hospital a couple of times to make sure he was doing alright. He has been around us the past week and you can tell he feels a lot better being around us than sitting in a hospital bed.
Lefeld: It is good seeing him run around. He is our senior leader no matter what if he is on the field or off the field. It is a core group here that we need everybody.

I always thought it was tough when you play sports and get hurt, because people almost treat you like your contagious.
Ehinger: Eh, our O-line group we are a pretty tight group through thick and thin. We don't have any individuals that try to go out on there own and stray away from the pack. We are always with each other. We hang out with each other outside of football.
Lefeld: It is not like it makes him poison. If anything it puts more onus on him to get around us more, check up on us more to make sure we are the best that we can be on Saturdays.

Who do you room with or live with?
Ehinger: I live in the dorms still and I live with Patrick Coyne, the quarterback.
Lefeld: Yeah. He is stuck up in a small dorm and I live off-campus with three other football players. Cory Keebler, Camaron Beard, and Brad Harrah. So I got a good house. Right off campus. Not far away.

So you started here as a defensive line. We talked about that before, but could you talk about how Chad West has made that transition?
Lefeld: I am pretty tough on him. He is starting to build the right mentality. It is not easy. He is a little bit further behind where I was when I got switched over, but you don't want to make excuses. Excuses don't get you nothing so I keep trying to be tough on him, making sure he is learning things every day. If he forgets something that seems to be common sense or should be common sense I will get on him. He seems to be taking it the right way and hopefully someday he can help us out.

What do you see from Cory Keebler?
(Lefeld kills a bee on Parker's chest) Lefeld: I got it.
Ehinger: (Hardly flinching) He is pretty smart. He has about a 3.5, 3.6 cumulative GPA like Eric does and he is very smart. He uses his hands very well with pass blocking and run blocking. He is a big individual too so he is good at moving people around on the defense.
Lefeld: Keebler is very athletic.

What about Sam Longo? This is really his first year playing for UC.
Ehinger: He does a pretty good job too. He was coming in fresh last year trying to learn the offense and everything. He has really caught on compared to last year when he got here. He was struggling last year trying to catch on with the offense compared to Ohio State with the bigger, power offense. He has come a long way, doing pretty well. He is a freak human being. He can run all day and he will move a 320-pound D-lineman from point A to point B like nothing.

So strength and endurance are really his skills?
Ehinger: Yeah. It is the way he eats too. He doesn't go out and have late nights. He always eats healthy. He will never eat the foods that they give us here. He will bring his own food from home. He is always eating rice and chicken. He eats his own stuff.
Lefeld: He makes you feel a little unhealthy.
Ehinger: The stuff he is eating makes you feel unhealthy.
Lefeld:I wouldn't say he is a good role model, but you know he has energy and strength and you see what he is eating…it kind of helps you make better decisions with what you are eating. It makes you consider what you put into your body before practice and to get every meal in you because if you miss a meal it makes practice a lot harder because practice is conditioning itself. We are always moving.
Ehinger: If definitely shows for him. He can run all day. He was first in running all summer long and he basically attributes to what he ate. He will sit down with a plate of lettuce with nothing on it and just eat that. He will pull out carrots and just eat those in a position meeting.
Lefeld: The first position meeting I saw him in he opened up a bag of, what was it, iceberg lettuce, and downed the hole thing.

Ehinger: Yeah. He is a pretty funny kid. He makes all of us laugh. I think he takes pride in being the comedian of the offensive line group.
Lefeld:He is good with his movie quotes like Parker here.

Ok, thank you. Have a good day.

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