At 6'8" and over 250 lbs., Joseph Fauria sounds more like a small forward in the NBA than a college football player.
Fauria just happens to be the next big, athletic tight end who should make an impact at the NFL level.
After an average 2010 season, he established himself as a starter in 2011; hauling in six touchdown passes and 445 receiving yards.
He torched Houston for over 100 yards, his 110 being the most for a Bruins tight end since Marcedes Lewis seven years ago.
Fauria played in a system the last few years that didn't get him the ball enough.
He also suffered from quarterback issues, whether it be poor play or injury.
Jim Mora headlines a new UCLA coaching staff that should find many ways to get Fauria even more involved in the offence.
Fauria was happy to do a small interview with me and here are the results. Enjoy.
Colan Lamont: How do you look back on your time with Notre Dame?
Joseph Fauria: I look back on my time at ND as a positive one. Yes, it was an untimely departure, but I made many friends that I still have to this day. it was a great experience to be away from home. It made me appreciate UCLA that much more.
CL: Are you excited about the new coaching staff at UCLA?
JF: I am extremely excited. It's going to be a great end to my career at UCLA playing under these coaches and in this new offense.
CL: What do you think about the quarterback competition going on? Do you have a preferred starter?
JF: I have no preference, and luckily the decision is not up to me! It's going to be up to the coaches and I trust that they will put the best guy at the position for us to win. All I care about is wins and getting the ball in my hands!
CL: What have you been working on during the offseason?
JF: Flexibility. I've been doing a lot of yoga. but I've also dabbled in some MMA workouts just to keep my body guessing and to become a complete athlete. My strength is always getting better and my football skills will improve once fall camp starts up again.
CL: You made a pretty big impact last season. How much more effective do you expect to be?
JF: I was effective in an offense that wasn't made for me to be effective! So now being in an offense that is made for me to get the ball a whole lot, I expect plenty more production.
CL: What do you feel was your best performance last season?
JF: My favorite game was the season opener against Houston. That game just showed everyone what I was capable of and how I needed to be utilized more! I hope to have more games like that.
CL: You led the team in touchdown receptions with six. Do you see yourself as the biggest red-zone threat on the team?
JF: Well, I am the biggest receiver/tight end....so ya.
CL: Have you ever been frustrated with the previous pistol offence? Would you have liked to run more routes and see more passes thrown your way?
JF: Yes and yes.
CL: You are ranked as the No. 1 tight end for the 2013 NFL Draft by a number of analysts. Do you agree?
JF: I am not going to come out and say that they are wrong! But I will say that I am never satisfied; I can always get better and I plan to do that. I do want my name to be the first of the TEs in the 2013 draft, because that'll mean I worked and I deserved it!
CL: Did you think about entering the draft last year? Why did you stay?
JF: It crossed my mind, but after talking to some pretty knowledgeable people, it got shot down REAL FAST. I mean, I only have one year on my resume, really. So it was wise to stay.
CL: Do you feel more pressure now that people are noticing your talents even more?
JF: Yes! But pressure is good! I am going to embrace that I am no longer a surprise and that teams will game-plan against me. It will only make me better!
CL: At 6'8", do you look at guys like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski in the NFL and think you can have a similar impact?
JF: Of course! This is THE BEST TIME to be a tight end going to the NFL and especially at my size. I know I am capable of producing like those guys one day in the next level if I am given the chance.
CL: What do you see as your biggest strengths as a player?
JF: My pass-catching is the strong suit. My mean streak is what makes me a great competitor on the field—I refuse to lose. And I would like to think I am a good blocker. I proved that last year blocking in a run-first offense.
CL: Favourite NFL team?
JF: Whoever wants to draft me!
CL: What are both your individual and team expectations for the upcoming season?
JF: Pac-12 championship! Rose Bowl! And breaking some UCLA TE records would be nice!
Thanks to Joe Fauria for his responses and to Stephanie Sampson for setting it up.
Colan Lamont is a contributor for Bleacher Report. All quotes for this interview were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.