Cavalier Corner

December 2014

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"I fully expected to redshirt last year and I was only on the travel squad the first game because I had done pretty good in practice that week." With Valles showing a propensity to get after the quarterback, Tenuta decided to move the long and athletic playmaker to outside linebacker, allowing him to at times match up in space but keying on his ability to rush the passer. Though his coming out party was a stellar five-tackle, 2.5-sack performance against Pittsburgh in his first career start last season, he went through some growing pains at the position. "It was pretty different because I thought I'd come in and play tight end behind guys like Jake McGee and Zach Swanson," Valles said. "I came in thinking maybe I'd break out in my later years. Then I ended up getting the opportunity to play defensive end and outside linebacker. "It's been a weird process I wasn't really ex- pecting at all, but it's great to have a home at one position." The friendship that the two formed began early — Valles said Harold was one of the players he leaned on in 2013 when he started the arduous pro- cess of learning Tenuta's scheme. "Eli really took me under his wing a lot when I first started playing with the ones," he explained. "Those guys helped me out a lot. He's always the guy who would tell me, if I was down on myself or whatever, to just trust myself, trust my athletic ability, and that really helped me. Playing with a guy like him, I can watch things that he does and he can watch stuff that I do and we can sort of build off each other." "Max is a physical freak of nature, man," Harold countered. "The way he's so versatile, to be able to come at the quarterback but also be able to move in space. He can go from rushing the passer to liter- ally dropping back in three-hook and re-routing a very, very speedy receiver. He's a guy you don't have to say much to because he can just go do it. "I believe if we were to line him up on the other team's No. 1 receiver and said, 'Max you gotta lock this guy down for us,' I believe Max would do it," Harold added. "His hips are better than mine and he has that versatility and he can run. I'm a quick guy, but I'm a straight-line guy. Max can change direction and keep that speed, and it's fun to watch." Valles, though, remains impressed with Harold's ability to bring his power to the position. "I guess I can play the pass and drop back into coverage better than him, but man, he's so strong against the run now," Valles said. "I've gotten better at it but he's gotten so much better at the point of at- tack. That's an area where I have a long ways to go." The rivalry between the two continues to burn, at least on the field. Though they both like to put as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as possi- ble, Harold said off the field they are very different. "I'm more of an aggressive guy," Harold said. "He's more laid back. On and off the field, I'm in- tense. Max doesn't do things that way. But he does have some dog in him, don't get me wrong." "Coach Tenuta knows how athletic we are and so he doesn't hold us back," Valles added. "He can let us loose and it's easier for him to call the game sometimes because of that. That's what guys like me and Eli bring to the table. We're the same that way." ◆ "It's awesome because honestly I've never been in a situation where I had a guy like that, with a skill set like that, playing on the opposite side." THIRD-YEAR DEFENSIVE END ELI HAROLD ON SECOND-YEAR OUTSIDE LINEBACKER MAX VALLES

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