Aug. 11, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After playing in each of the Knights' 12 games at the linebacker position a season ago with nine starts, junior Derrick Hallman (Fort Pierce, Fla.) is spending preseason camp getting acclimated to a new position. With the departure of the entire starting secondary from 2008, the UCF coaches decided to switch Hallman to the safety position, where he is expected to start as a junior in 2009.
One thing that Hallman has shown he should do well from any position through two seasons as a Knight is tackle. In 2008, Hallman tied for fourth on the team in tackles with 57 and was named honorable mention All-Conference USA. That total came a year after racking up 50 tackles as a true freshman in helping the Knights to a C-USA Championship.
Order your tickets today to see Hallman and the Knights play seven times this fall at Bright House Networks Stadium. For more information, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000 or log on to UCFAthletics.com.
After wearing full pads for the first time on Monday, UCF will continue preseason camp Tuesday afternoon with practice scheduled from 3:20-5:30 p.m. also in full pads. With the Knights preparing up for their Sept. 5 season opener against Samford at Bright House Networks Stadium, UCFAthletics.com recently caught up with Hallman to get his thoughts on getting stronger, the upcoming season and the defensive unit's focus this season.
What was the highlight of your summer and where did you spend most of it?
"Highlight of my summer was being in the weight room. I got a lot stronger, so that was the highlight of my summer. The weight room coaches started a point system to build competition between positions. Our opponents were the wide receivers. I mainly stayed here, but I took short trips to Atlanta and Louisiana."
What are most looking forward to about the upcoming season and why?
"I am tired of hearing everyone talk about how young the secondary is. I just want to prove to the community, the conference and the nation that we are pretty good."
Where do you think you improved on the most over the offseason as an individual?
"I would say my footwork and my strength because I have gotten a lot stronger. I think my footwork has picked up quite a bit."
What do you think will be the biggest differences in the team this season compared to last season?
"Having that chip on our shoulder. Last year, we weren't complacent at the beginning of the year, but we were dwelling on the past too much. We thought we still had Kevin Smith and that is the mentality we had. We thought because we won the conference the year before we played at time like it was going to be given to us. This year, we have a big chip on our shoulders because that is not how we want to represent ourselves and our university."
What do you think the most important part of preseason practice is in preparing for the season and why?
"The most important thing is paying attention to detail, correcting the little mistakes before they progress into anything bigger. We also do not want to take any plays off. We need to play every practice as if it was a game."
What do you see as the keys to your team having success this season?
"Being stronger on defense first of all, and our offense having the confidence to play the way we know they can play."
What will be the key to replacing Joe Burnett and the rest of the secondary from last season?
"I do not think we fell off any at all. I think Justin Boddie can play just as well as Joe or Johnell (Neal) at cornerback. I think Reggie (Weams) and I are just as good as Jason (Venson) and Sha'reff (Rashad) as well. We have (Mike) Greco at safety too and Darin Baldwin at the other corner spot who improved a lot."
What are your goals individually this season?
"I do not really state any individual goals, but if I had to give you one I would say I want to lead the team in tackles and interceptions."
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