The Bootleg: You're going to be starting on the D-line this year. How are you transitioning into that role?
Terrence Stephens: It's tough, but I was playing behind Sione Fua, who got me more prepared than anybody. He's a great person to have played behind and to play for, and he was a motivator in all ways. Even when he was taking most of the reps, every little rep that I got last year was, ‘Make sure you do this, focus on the little things, make sure you come off on the ball.' That definitely translated over this year, and he's missed. Now I have to come in and step in, and he has humongous shoes to fill, literally. I'm very proud of him and I look to make him proud, because he made a legacy here for the D-line.
How have you enjoyed the first week of practice?
TS: Good. There are many more weeks to come, but it's very live. There are some tremendous athletes out there. We have Andrew throwing the ball all different types of ways, the running backs are making us miss, and let's not even go to the defense. Shayne Skov is back there just doing what he does as an athlete. I've got Ben Gardner and Matt Masifilo on my left and my right. The whole defense just seems to be clicking with everything that we're doing. It's kind of scary to think about the possibilities. We just need to come in and be cohesive as a defense and go from there. The possibilities are endless, but it's all going to depend on what we do and what we decide as a defense. I think it's an attitude: it's how we come onto the field every day, how we prepare for practice and walk on the field for games.
What's the biggest thing you've been working on to improve over the past week?
TS: Effort. Technically, I think a lot of that comes from coaching. We work a lot on coaching and our coaches do a tremendous job of making sure we get the little things. But you can't teach effort, you can't coach effort. That's the one thing Randy Hart and Chester McGlockton will tell us, and Jason Tarver and all of those guys, they'll say ‘You can't coach effort.' That's one of the things I've been working on, making sure I make the plays that I need to make in the backfield that come from effort, not the technical things…Effort is such a little thing that people don't really realize they need to put that much more into, because if you have the effort, you find yourself in more good situations than bad.
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Though Stanford will see four new starters in its defensive front seven this year, perhaps none is more important than Terrence Stephens. Stephens, a junior, saw limited action behind Fua his first two years, and will likely assume Fua's starting slot come September. In a Friday interview, Stephens talked about learning from Fua early in his career, as well as the defense's potential this season.