PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Lining up at linebacker with Steve Beauharnais to your right and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene the next spot over can be a bit intimidating.
"Yes," Kevin Snyder said before deadpanning when asked if he feels the pressure of lining up at linebacker along with those two.
After all, Beauharnais and Greene are two of the best linebackers in the Big East. So what's that pressure like for the sophomore to line up alongside those two seniors?
"You really just have to come in every day focused and compete, so you're not that weak link," Snyder said. "And if you're focused every day, you're not going to make the mistakes to let the team down."
And the two make sure to stay on top of Snyder, the promising young pup of the linebacker corps.
"Steve's more vocal about it," Snyder said. "Steve's the middle of the defense and the leader, so he's on me when I don't make plays or do things wrong -- he's on me more."
And the mistakes have been a bit more abundant for Snyder in the first two weeks of training camp than he'd like.
However, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has an excuse for his blunders. With Greene recovering from surgery, Snyder spent spring practice learning weak-side linebacker. So he's still getting himself re-acclimated to the strong side.
"Coming back to the [strong side] after the spring at [the weak side], I'm still picking everything back up," Snyder said.
While he said he talked with coaches about taking some reps at weak-side linebacker this past week, they felt it was in his best interest to play exclusively at strong-side. All the while, he's got a position battle on his hands. He's vying for reps with fellow strong-side linebacker Jamal Merrell.
"I mean, I take most of the first-team reps," Merrell said "The coaches feel as if I'm established...We both split reps, but I feel as though I have the spot."
Head coach Kyle Flood said the two would split reps and that each would get a significant amount of playing time in each game. While both would like to take a bulk of the reps, they understand that likely won't be the case.
"It's whatever coach sees and however he thinks we can help the team the most, whether it be me, or Jamal or both of us," Snyder said. "Obviously, everybody wants to play the game and start the game, but if he wants us to split, I'll work with that."
So will Merrell. While he would like to start and take a bulk of the reps, he knows there are benefits if that's not the case.
"Of course everybody wants to get all the reps," Merrell said. "But I mean, I'm on kickoff, I'm on kickoff return, I'm on PAT, so I'm trying to get all the reps I can but the coaches know what's best. If it benefits the team, it's for the better."