During a pass-blocking drill in a recent practice, Joe Lockley slammed into his blocker and pushed him backward like he was wearing roller-skates. They lined up again, and Lockley pushed his guy backward, turned him sideways and moved him a few more yards.
Watching nearby, Bill Curry turned on the bullhorn and reminded Lockley the goal was to get to the quarterback, not win the wrestling match.
Lockley, a true freshman from Portal, has proven to be a a block of granite on the defensive line and could see playing time this season in coordinator Anthony Midget’s 4-2-5 scheme. Because Lockley is so strong and plays with good leverage, he is hard to move inside, which could help a running defense that allowed an average of 180.5 yards per game last season.
Lockley, who weighs 290 pounds, suffered a slight injury to his shoulder, but has returned to play in most of the drills.
Q: How’s your shoulder?
A: It’s getting better day by day. We’ve got an excellent training staff. They are working with me very day. I’m coming in for treatment and taking little strides day by day. I’m coming back to full potential. They added something new I can do.
A: [Laughs] I would say neither nor. It’s just the work we put in this summer. My numbers in the weight room don’t really reflect me as a person. It’s just the work we put in the weight room. I just happen to be at this level at this point starting off my career. There’s a lot of strong guys on the team. But to play football you can’t just be physically strong, you’ve got to be mentally strong also. That’s something I’ve got to build on.
Q: Where does the strength come from? Have you always been a weightlifter or are you just naturally strong?
A: Kind of both. I had an excellent weightlifting coach in high school. Whenever Georgia State sent me their workout, I jumped on it and didn’t turn my back on it and kept going. When I got here, Georgia State has an excellent weightlifting coach in coach Pollard. He took me under his wing and helped me get where I am.
Q: Were your dad or uncles or anybody like that strong? Did you lift with them?
A: No, it was always on me.
Q: Any summer jobs?
A: No. The only thing I did was summer football.
Q: Give folks your numbers. How much are you lifting?
A: My bench press is 455, I squat 600 and my hang-clean is 275.
Q: The coaches say you are more than a weightlifter, you can play football. You stay low, you have good leverage. Did you develop the fundamentals in high school, or are you just naturally low?
A: I’m not the tallest defensive lineman. I’m not 6-3 or 6-4, I’m 6-1 and I use whatever I can to my advantage to beat my opponent by staying low and getting off the ball.
Q: What about off the field, what do you like to do?
A: I like to get some rest time, get some me time. I spend a lot of time with my brothers on the defensive line. We call ourselves the “Dog Pound.” Dogs travel in packs and we travel in packs. We’re always hanging out with each other, playing video games or going out to eat or going to the mall.
A: Well, there’s not much to do in Portal. You can go to Statesboro and go to the mall, or go to Savannah. There’s a lot of surrounding areas that you can go and find something productive to do.
Q: Anything that Portal is famous for?
A: Not really. It’s just a small town.