Getting to Know...Ryan Tolar

April 12, 2007

Husky Spring football season is here and there are a lot of new faces around the Dawg's practices. was able to sit down with red-shirt sophomore Ryan Tolar to discuss his first year of participation with the team and the adjustments that he has had to go through to push for a starting spot on the offensive line. How has the off-season being going for you so far?
Ryan Tolar: 'Pretty good. I just did a lot of focusing on Spring ball so that I could be ready for when things started up.'

GH: There are a lot of new faces with little game experience on this years team. What kinds of things have you all been doing to become accustomed to one another?
RT: 'We've been doing a lot of working out together. Specifically on the offensive line, we have become a lot closer just by spending a lot of time together with our workouts. I am one of the newer guys with this being my first year, but it has been going well.'

GH: Do you think that you are all progressing at a good pace right now?
RT: 'I think so. Everybody is working hard and you can see that people are getting more comfortable.'

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GH: How important is it for all of you to get on the same page?
RT: 'It is pretty important. On the offensive line the only way that you can be successful is if you work together as a whole. We are just trying to get to that point so that we can be successful.'

GH: How have you enjoyed working with your coaches since you have been here?
RT: 'It has been a lot of fun so far and I like it a lot. They help out in every way they can and it is pretty easy to relate to them and take instruction. That is probably the biggest reason why I came here, because of the coaching.'

GH: What would you say are the biggest differences between your high school and your current college coaches?
RT: 'These guys remind me a lot of my high school coaches just because we are able to relate to each other so easily. They are here for me with anything that I would need to ask them. If I need something I can always come up to my coaches here and talk to them about it. They are very friendly and that makes it easier with our conversations and working to improve.'

GH: What are the differences with the level of play from high school to college?
RT: 'The game is definitely a lot faster and all of the guys are a lot bigger. I think that college ball is a lot more fun and everything at this level is a lot more competitive. They don't compare a whole lot to each other, but it is a whole lot different from everything that you did in high school because of the competitive level.'

GH: How have you liked playing for Coach Willingham so far?
RT: 'It has been a lot of fun. I really like to play for him because he cares about you. If you ever have any kind of problem he actually cares and he is willing to talk to you about just about anything. He will actually come up to you and tell you what you are doing wrong and how you can improve instead of just getting angry with you.'

GH: Has he helped you personally, one-on-one, since you have been here?
RT: 'Oh yeah. Every now and again we will be doing a drill and he will be behind the drill where no one can really notice him. He'll have some advice for something that you have done wrong and he'll help you fix it so that you can get better and not let it happen again.'

GH: Is that what you expected out of Coach Willingham when you came here?
RT: 'Yeah. That is a lot of the reason why I came here.'

GH: How did you end up at the University of Washington? Were there any other schools that you were considering?
RT: 'I was considered at a lot of different places. I liked Coach Willingham's style back when he coached at Notre Dame, so that is where a lot of my interest in playing for him started. I started noticing him there and I would look into the way he coached. When he came here he showed a lot of interest in me and between all the other schools that UW was the best fit for me.'

GH: Coach Willingham has been known to stress the importance of building a team around the offensive line. Would you agree that is where is starts?
RT: 'Well I think that it comes down to everybody playing well together. Every position is very important and you become a good team when you work well together.'

GH: How have the Spring practices been so far?
RT: 'They have been really intense and really competitive. Everyone is really geared towards the upcoming season and getting better. I like it a lot so far.'

GH: What kind of experience has it been for you so far to be a Husky?
RT: 'I like it a lot and I am really excited to get a chance to play here. It is about what I expected in terms of the amount of things we do. I didn't really expect to be starting the day out so early, but I have adjusted and it has been a good experience so far.'

GH: What does a usual day consist of right now?
RT: 'Early meetings in the morning that are usually followed by a workout. Then we will go to class and come back for practice. We'll have dinner as a team and then head off to study hall before we go home.'

GH: Is the competition at practices pretty friendly or are guys fighting for their spots?
RT: 'It is all a friendly competition, but everyone is working hard with each other make one another better. The biggest thing that we are getting out of this is that everyone is getting better because they are pushing each other.'

GH: Are the veterans on the team helping you out a lot?
RT: 'Yeah they are helping me out a lot. Whenever you have a question they will answer it. They are open to help guide us through anything so that we can get better as a team.'

GH: Would you agree that the offensive line is the most under appreciated position in football?
RT: 'I wouldn't say that. The backs, receivers and quarterbacks all appreciate what you are doing for them. They appreciate the times where we are able to help them out to make a big play.'

GH: How badly would you like the opportunity to grab a lose ball and carry it in for a touchdown this year?
RT: 'I always have high hopes to score a touchdown, but deep down I know that it never will happen. I really don't think about it, it's more of a joke. It's one of those things that would rarely happen, but it would be fun to do.'

GH: Would you rather lay out a great block for a game-winning score or somehow be involved in a play to get the game-winning touchdown?
RT: 'I would definitely rather lay out the game winning block. It feels great to know that you overpowered somebody. I like being able to know that I made a block that set up a big play like that.'

GH: Have you set the goal for yourself to be a starter on this team by the beginning of the season?
RT: 'Yeah, but there is a lot of really good competition on the offensive line for this team. That is the goal that you have when you are practicing because, ultimately, you want to earn that starting spot.'

GH: The schedule will be tough this year, what are your thoughts on that?
RT: 'It really doesn't matter to me that much. Everybody says that all these teams that we are going to be playing are so tough, but I honestly think that we can play with any of these teams. It doesn't bother us that there are all these BCS teams, we just have a great opportunity to try and prove ourselves.'

GH: What does this year's team have to do to be successful?
RT: 'We are going to playing physical and dominate every team that we play.'

GH: What goals do you have for yourself this season?
RT: 'Right now I am just working as hard as I can every day. I need to do as much as I can right now to prepare and try to push for a starting job by the time the season roles around.'

GH: Alright, well thanks a lot and good luck.

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