Nate Velichko takes the San Jose State football practice field on August 7 as one of the 16 returning starters and one of four starters in the offensive line from a year ago ready for the first day of full contact, padded drills.
"We're going to come out hitting. It will be a good time," says the third-year Spartan who started every game at right guard in 2014, but was moved to tackle before spring practice. For the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder, it's like returning home.
"I came in as a tackle. When coach told me I was moving back to tackle, I was real excited. I feel a lot more comfortable at tackle. I like working with more speed.
"During walk-throughs, I've been getting a few reps on the left side, but mainly this camp, I've been on the right side. I'm really comfortable at right tackle and I could go in at left tackle if need be."
With Adam Stenavich as his third offensive line coach in his three years as a Spartan, Velichko gave an overview on practices so far.
"We're doing `pods' for the first time. It's like drive-block work vs. the defense. We are doing a lot of sled work this year, a lot more sled work than we've ever done before. There's definitely a focus on technique and perfecting the run game. All offensive line coaches are fired up when we execute the run game correctly. Coach `Teno' is definitely fired up when we break a good run. He loves working with it obviously," says the Redwood City native.
"It's been very exciting. Our offseason work is showing up a lot. It's going to be an exciting year. For the O-line, we bonded a lot as a unit. We put it on ourselves to be in check, get our work and our drills done by ourselves and do everything we can to get to that December 5 Mountain West Championship."
The kinesiology major was one of the top San José State male student-athletes in 2014-15. He was one of two Spartans named to the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete team and was named Academic All-Mountain West.
"My family's very proud of me. They also know I worked hard in everything I do. They weren't surprised I have a great G.P.A. As a football player, I love how the body works together to make us who we are. It's amazing how we were created. I want to learn about that and be able to help people when they get hurt," Velichko said about his choice of academic majors.
"There are times when you must balance putting in work on and off the field. You have to put in the work off the field to concentrate putting in the work on the field. When you don't have to worry about your academics as much and when you put in the work and have a high G.P.A., you can have a comfort zone and not worry about it when you're in season."
You can see Velichko's comfort level with his offensive line mates and the rest of the Spartans during the August 22 FanFest and at any of the six home games in Spartan Stadium. Season and individual tickets are available by calling the Spartan Athletics Ticket Office at (408) 924-SJTX or by visiting sjsuspartans.com.