Austin Wentworth is hoping a tough offseason will result in a successful senior season. Wentworth and the rest of the Bulldogs have been working tirelessly throughout the spring and summer to defend last year's Mountain West title.
As a junior in 2012 the offensive lineman had a career season in which his play earned him a first-team ll-Mountain West selection. Wentworth played a vital role in the Bulldogs' conference leading offense while opening holes in the running game and protecting quarterback Derek Carr's blindside.
Entering his final year at Fresno State, Wentworth is optimistic about the upcoming season and pleased with the way the team has performed over the summer.
"Summer workouts have been looking good," Wentworth said. "[Joey] Boese our strength coach has always been cranking things up with us. It's been really tough, but we've killed it all summer so I think we're all feeling good going into the season right now."
Although this offseason has been particularly tough, Wentworth believes that the offense is further along at this point than they were last summer.
"This season we have a whole year under our belt with [Tim] DeRuyter already," he said. "We're not getting thrown into the fire as you can say, so its definitely going to be a little bit easier, especially on offense, when we're in the no huddle. The main thing is just being more comfortable with the coaches and the system."
Coach DeRuyter's spread offense has also impacted the way Wentworth and the rest of the offensive line have been preparing themselves this summer.
"We've been trying to lose some weight," Wentworth said. "With this no huddle you gotta be skinnier, you can't be the typical 330-pound o-lineman. Besides that we've just been working on a lot of footwork and trying to solidify a couple spots that are undefined right now."
A huge part of Wentworth's role last season was opening holes for recently departed running back Robbie Rouse. Wentworth believes that the Bulldogs will replace his production by committee.
"If you look at our backfield I think we got a lot of guys like Josh Quezada, Marteze Waller, and Malique Micenheimer that are really going to surprise people. And if you look at our receiving core, we have the best one in the Mountain West so they're going to be a huge threat all season."
As a senior Wentworth has embraced his leadership role and spoke about the importance of setting an example for younger players.
"When you're a young guy it's easy because you know, the older guys are pushing you," he said. "Now you're the older guy and you've gotta motivate guys. I'm just trying to take the things that I've learned over the years from some of the guys that I've followed and shadowed and try to implement that with the young guys. Try to critique them hard, but also let them know when they're doing things right."
All his hard work has earned Wentworth recognition as one of the top offensive lineman in the country, and he has recently been placed on both the Rotary Lombardy Award and the Outland Trophy watch lists.
"Those awards are huge. It's great to even make the watch list, it's an honor you know, you work you're whole career to be recognized for things like that and you just hope you can get nominated for things like that and go far in the nomination process, so we'll see, if I have a good year hopefully things will keep going well."
With the daily trials of a long offseason, Wentworth is now simply looking forward to the season and week one in Bulldog Stadium.
"Fall practice is pretty much a grind," Wentworth said. "The biggest thing to look forward to is game one against Rutgers. I think we have a white out that game, should be a huge crowd turnout, and it'll be awesome to start the season off at home against a good team."
The season is right around the corner and soon Wentworth will again walk down the tunnel and proceed to be Derek Carr's own personal bodyguard. Until then, he and the rest of the Bulldogs are working hard to prepare themselves for the season ahead.
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the Bulldogs as Fall Camp approaches.
Steven Morehart is a new staff writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StevenMorehart.