Editor's note: This is the latest installment of a feature in which the Las Vegas Review-Journal asks 20 questions of a UNLV football player. Today's Q&A is with tight end Kyle Watkins, a sophomore from Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Ariz., and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College.
Watkins and the Rebels (4-6, 2-4 Mountain West Conference) play at Air Force (6-4, 4-2) at 3 p.m. PST Saturday.
1. What's it like playing tight end in a spread offense?
We get to run a lot more routes than normal tight ends get to do. We're not in the whole game, but it's a lot of fun.
2. After playing receiver in high school, how much weight did you have to gain to play tight end?
Out of high school, I think I weighed 215 (pounds). Right now, I'm at about 240.
3. How do you put on that kind of weight?
I went a year to (junior college), and that's where I started playing tight end, and they started putting weight on me there. They got me on a weight program. I came in pretty overweight my first year here, and I had to lose weight.
4. How much did you have to lose when you got here?
I think I came in at 255, so I had to lose 15 pounds.
5. What's harder, to gain weight or lose it?
It was pretty hard to lose because I enjoyed eating a lot of food from putting on the weight. Right now, it's pretty easy. I just maintain.
6. When you were trying to gain weight, did you have to force yourself to eat even when you weren't hungry?
Yeah, pretty much like that to get as much protein into you as you can. My body was telling me I wasn't hungry, but I would have to force myself to eat.
7. You caught 21 passes in the state high school championship. How did that feel?
Nothing like it in the world. It was crazy. It was amazing. I don't know how to explain it, really.
8. How did you catch so many passes?
Me and my quarterback (Phillip Aholt) were best friends. We're still best friends. He plays at my junior college that I went to. The defense was giving us really short routes, so ... I had a lot of catches for 5 and 10 yards.
9. What was it like to win the state title?
My sophomore year, we started all sophomores. We went 0-10, and the next year we went 5-6 and lost in the first round. Then to go out our senior season 15-0 was pretty amazing.
10. Did you know as sophomores you had the talent?
We knew we had a lot of talent on the team; it was just young. Most of us didn't start playing football until our freshman year of high school, so we still had a lot of learning to do. But we definitely saw something special in that team.
11. When you're losing, how do you keep the faith that it's eventually going to turn around?
Our coaches kept telling us to believe. After our junior year, we realized we could go all the way next year.
12. Do you see parallels between high school and UNLV?
We have so much potential; we just have to go out and play our hearts out.
13. I understand you're involved in animal rescue?
My parents run a rescue in Arizona. It's a reptile kind of rescue. They take rattlesnakes out of people's houses and do stuff like that. It's getting really big. I volunteer there because my parents run it.
14. So you probably get some interesting calls?
People are freaked out, thinking they're going to die just because there's a snake in their yard.
15. Any scary snake stories?
I don't have any. My mom pretty much wanted me to stay away from all the deadly snakes, so I just messed with like the tortoises. I think reptiles are awesome animals.
16. Does your mom have any stories?
Nothing really has happened that major, other than my mom's boyfriend got bit by a Gila monster one time.
17. So you've seen your mom go to work?
Yeah. We've had alligators also on the property. Alligators are illegal in Arizona. We don't get funded by (Arizona) Game and Fish, but we work with them.
18. So people take alligators out to Arizona?
When there's a big drug bust, you usually get some crazy reptiles.
19. You're a management major. What would you like to do with that degree?
I'm going to plan on doing something in business; I don't know what yet, though. I'm probably going to plan on being a firefighter out of college -- I grew up with a stepdad who's a firefighter -- then maybe something in business because you have a bunch of time off while you're a firefighter.
20. Do you think you might go back to Arizona?
I'll probably go back to Arizona. It's been my home, and all my family's there.
• UNLV NOTE -- Linebacker Ronnie Paulo has an injured knee, but his status for Saturday's game is unknown.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Read the latest UNLV football updates at lvrj.com/blogs/unlv_sports.