Your path to the NFL was anything but a straight line. How did you overcome adversity to get to this point?
Starting out at Oregon and then making the transfer back to junior college at College of the Canyons, in Southern California, and really taking a step back. It was really humbling because you're kind of taking a step backwards to take a step forwards. When I did that, I was just really focused on my goal. After that, I was fortunate enough to go to the University of Tennessee. I went there for three years and here I am today.
As a California native, how does it feel to be playing back in your home state?
It's a dream come true. The state of California, in my opinion, is the best state in the United States. I'm just happy to be in the Bay Area.
What is particularly special about playing for the Oakland Raiders?
Playing for Oakland is so special just for the rich history that they have, all the legends that have come through here, and the fan base. The fan base is amazing. Raider Nation is strong.
After waiting until the sixth round, can you describe how you felt when you were finally drafted by the Raiders? **
Just a sense of relief, man. Just your dreams finally coming true. You know that there's a lot of work ahead, but it's the start to something great.
What has been the most challenging aspect of transitioning to the NFL?
Just continuing to work on my technique and continuing to get stronger every day. The game develops, guys get stronger, guys get bigger, and you've just got to hang along with them and you've just got to continue to get better every day yourself.
Is there one aspect of your game that has evolved most since you entered the league last season?
My blocking technique and also my route running. You come here in the NFL and you've got to do everything full speed – crisp routes. You've got to be on your depth, be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there, so it's really intense.
Can you point to a single player or coach, past or present, who has had a huge influence on you throughout your career?
I would say [tight ends coach] Mark Hutson and [senior offensive assistant] Coach [Al] Saunders. Both of them, I work in hand in hand with them every day and they bring something different, each. They help me out with everything I do, so the player that I've become is a direct result of them.
How do you keep yourself in peak physical condition in terms of your diet and workout regimen?
It's a full-time job, 24-7. You've got to eat the right foods all day, every day. You've got to go to bed with the right nutrition in you and you've got to wake up and put the right nutrition in you. Then you've got to do the extra things. You've got to stretch at night. You've got to take Epsom salt baths, a lot of stretching, and you've just got to always be focused on your goal and just continue to do the little things.