Spencer Larsen, a former Arizona linebacker (2002-2007) and sixth round draft pick of the Denver Broncos is entering his second year with the NFL team. He is vying for a role on the team which would include playing time as linebacker, fullback and on special teams. The Daily Wildcat caught up with Larsen at the Broncos' training camp facility at Dove Valley in Denver, Colo., to talk about his budding pro career, Arizona's Las Vegas Bowl championship and his toughest training camp experience.
Daily Wildcat: You've gotten off to a pretty good start this preseason with nine tackles in two games. Are you feeling pretty comfortable out there?
Spencer Larsen: You know, it's hard. You never really want to feel comfortable, especially because of how good everybody is and you want to continue to improve every day. Nothing's ever guaranteed in this business so you have to keep up with that curve.
DW: What's been the toughest transition for you in terms of going from the college game to the professional level?
SL: As far as the game, it's the speed of everything. In my first year especially, that was a big surprise — how fast everyone was and how fast everything happens. You'll play against guys who've been playing at this level for 10 years so you really have to get used to keeping that pace. But the good thing is it's just football now. I used to have classes and different things going on over the summer, but now this is my job, so there's the offseason, training camps, working out all the time. It's definitely different. It's a career now.
DW: What's the difference between training camp last year compared to this year? Do you feel like a rookie anymore?
SL: No, you're a lot more mature as far as emotionally. We've had over 20 days of practice at this point and you have good days and bad days, good plays and bad plays. As a rookie I used to get down on my bad days. When I played good I was up and thinking ‘I'm going to make the team now'. But it's really not like that. You have to go day by day and take the good with the bad and try to minimize that bad stuff.
DW: Denver fired its coach (Mike Shanahan) after last season and hired Josh McDaniels for this year. How was that transition for you?
SL: I think everybody — even the guys who were the high draft picks — we all felt that we needed to come out this season and prove ourselves. Every training camp you have to pretend you're a rookie and go out and improve and impress everybody, because every year you're trying to make the team. You really can't take anything for granted.
DW: How do you feel about your chances at making the team at the moment?
SL: You know, I feel good. I'm healthy, and as long as I can stay healthy and try to do what I can things are going to work out. You don't know your chances, nothing's guaranteed. You just try to do your best and what comes, comes.
DW: One thing you never had to deal with at the college level that right off the bat you had to deal with was the whole Jay Cutler leaving the team situation this offseason. What was it like as a teammate - especially being new to the team — while that whole situation played out?
SL: You're very outside the situation. You don't get involved very much. People asked me a lot of questions but I just stayed out of it and didn't get too close to it.
DW: Now that you're in your second year is your family now (in Denver)?
SL: Yeah they're out here. We've made a lot of good friends and are really liking it.
DW: How was the adjustment to the altitude?
SL: I didn't even notice it. When you first get back from the offseason and you start working out again you definitely feel it for the first few days, but overall it hasn't really impacted me too much.
DW: How often are you in Arizona these days?
SL: In the offseason we have a house down in the Gilbert area so we're down there a decent amount still.
DW: The Arizona football team had a great year last season as I'm sure you know. Ten years without a bowl game and then a victory in the Las Vegas Bowl. What were your thoughts watching your former teammates win that game?
SL: I was proud of them. I feel like we were close the last two years I was there and we should have gone (to the postseason). But it just wasn't meant to be for us. But I'm glad it did. I knew it was coming eventually.
DW: Are you still in contact with many people from the team?
SL: (Former Arizona cornerback) Antoine (Cason) and I will text a little bit throughout the season and also (former Arizona linebacker) Dane Krogstad and I will talk some. But other than that not really.
DW: You and Cason are on two teams that are division rivals (Broncos and San Diego Chargers). Do you guys exchange any trash talk during the season?
SL: We play each other twice so not really any trash talk just ‘how are things going' and things like that.
DW: From your experiences — including college — what's been the toughest training camp — Mike Stoops', Mike Shanahan's, or Josh McDaniels' camp?
SL: I think I'd have to say the heat down in Arizona made it the toughest. It's a lot more physical in the pros, but down there and being in that heat was challenging.
DW: This season the Arizona team has two new quarterbacks vying for the starting role along with several new faces. Have you kept up with that situation at all and do you have a prediction for this year?
SL: Not really. I've heard about the new quarterbacks and all that but that's about it. I don't even know their names so can't really make any predictions on anything.
DW: So far in your pro career you've been used as a utility player of sorts, playing at linebacker, fullback and on special teams. Did you ever expect to be playing that role in the pros?
SL: No not really, but it's been cool. Linebacker is my natural position so I feel most comfortable there, but I'm just trying to learn as much as I can about how to play these other positions and just making it work. I've learned a lot about that fullback position from last season to this one so I'm getting better.
DW: What's one thing you miss most about college and the U of A?
SL: Um, the food. Sausage Deli, East Coast Subs, all those places, I miss that. The Mexican food is also amazing down there. There's not a lot of it (in Denver). But one thing I don't miss is having to do football and school.
DW: Think you'll make it to an Arizona game this season?
SL: Probably not just since it's so hard with my schedule. But if they make a bowl game or something I might just have to take a trip to see that.