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Odds and Ends: Players’ Comments at Northwestern Media Day: Clayton Thorson, Matt Harris, Anthony Walker, Justin Jackson, Jaylen Prater, Tyler Lancaster

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After Pat Fitzgerald’s press conference concluded, several player were made available to the media, including Anthony Walker, Clayton Thorson, Matt Harris, and Justin Jackson, who spoke to the cameras. We were able to speak with a few of them.

Matt Harris

  • Matt Harris on the switch to No. 11: “My father’s birthday was Nov. 11, which is 11/11, and he passed away in 2007, so just to honor him. Looking down at number 11 and just realizing all that I’ve come from and how much my family has been involved. It’s really just what I’m about, and that’s acknowledging my family the best I can.” Here’s more on Harris’s story.
  • Anthony Walker came up and asked Harris, “How is Anthony Walker as a roommate?” Harris responded, “Who’s that?”
  • Harris on Walker as a roommate: “He’s a good roommate, he cleans up after himself, he cooks. I can’t complain. He cooks chicken, pasta, shrimp, basically everything.”

Jaylen Prater

  • Prater, who is coming off a season-ending knee surgery, has been able to go full-sprint this offseason. “I’ve lost a lot of body fat. I feel good; I feel fast; I feel strong.”
  • “Our athletic training staff does a great job giving us time to rest time to recover, but also have active recovery and make sure you’re full ready, full go before we get out there.” He said he feels some soreness after practices but diligently getting treatment post-practice has helped him a lot.
  • Prater has focused on improving his coverage skills so he can play more on third down this year. “One of my goals this season is to be out there on third down... It’s definitely not outside of my skill set, it’s really just more about personnel.”

Tyler Lancaster

  • Lancaster is part of a very deep defensive tackle rotation that includes a lot of veterans. “There’s really good chemistry in there. We’re all very loose with each other. we goof around all the time; we hang out outside of football. We just know we have to be savages (on the field). We just go out there like we’re dogs. We embrace that, we accept it, and then we go show out.”
  • Lancaster has been very impressed with Joe Gaziano this offseason. “He lived with me during the summer, so we did everything together. We lifted together in the weight room, and he’s incredibly strong. So I’m excited to see what he does.” Lancaster is regarded as one of the strongest guys on the team.
  • Lancaster expressed a desire to play at the next level, and he knows his impressive weight room numbers won’t be enough. “The biggest thing is in the film. I think how I do this year is gonna be crazy important, because last year I was unknown, and I came out, and I did my job, and I performed pretty well. This is gonna be my official putting the blip on the radar.”
  • Lancaster has shown impressive mobility for his size, something he credits the training staff for helping him with. “We’ve definitely made it important to be runners first,” he said. “Our strength staff—Coach (Jay) Hooten—he runs us, and he gets us big at the same time. So we focus on getting real strong but we’ve been running and running and running, so it’s definitely showing on the field.”