Off the field, Chaz Hine believes you might not find a more kind, gentle person than University of South Florida senior center Sampson Genus. Between the lines, however, is a completely different story.
Hine found that out firsthand during a 2008 practice when the Bulls were conducting board drills, a one-on-one test of might. Then a redshirt freshman, Hine set his sights on Genus, then a sophomore working with the Bulls' defensive line, and called him out in a challenge. He realized quickly, though, he had made a serious misjudgment based on Genus' off-field personality.
"He really got after me and blew me up pretty good," Hine said with a chuckle.
Between the lines, Genus is a 6-foot-1, 314-pound ball of aggression itching to explode on an opponent.
"You're not going to find many players more aggressive than Sampson," said Hine, now a junior who lines up each game next to Genus as the Bulls' starting right guard. "He gets on the field and he gets very passionate, and it shows in his play. He's a dominating player."
Behind a veteran offensive line, USF has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success running the football the first month of the season. The Bulls, averaging 216.6 yards per game, rank first in the Big East Conference and 22nd nationally in rushing offense entering Saturday's home game against Florida Atlantic.
Considering the Owls rank last among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing defense, yielding an average of 275.6 yards per game, it would stand to reason the Bulls would again emphasize the run game this week.
"We look forward to it," Genus said. "The running game is our time to shine."
According to Bulls offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler, Genus has played a significant part in the success of the ground attack because of his ability to use his strength and technique to excel in one-on-one blocking situations.
"If your center can handle the nose (tackle) by himself, you now create a whole different world for a running back. Now you allow the guard to get on the linebacker easier. ... He's special in that regard," Shankweiler said.
One thing that Genus believes helped give him an edge at center was that 2008 season, which he spent working as a defensive tackle for the Bulls. It was the only year since Genus started playing organized football at the age of 7 that he didn't play center. While he certainly felt out of place during that time, the temporary position switch also had its benefits.
"I'm able to read some of the defensive linemen's tendencies and stuff like that. I pick up the defenses a lot better, some of their verbiage I kind of understand. It really helped me out a lot," Genus said.
It would be hard to argue against it. Last season, Genus was a second-team All-Big East selection and was voted USF's offensive lineman of the year by the coaches. But Genus knows there is always room to improve.
Shankweiler believes Genus is capable of playing on Sundays, provided he maintains the work ethic and desire he displays now.
"He's the kind of kid as a coach you get excited about because you can take a really good player and turn him into a great one, not just because of me but because of his attitude towards wanting to get better," Shankweiler said.
Genus is never short on attitude, especially when he gets between those white lines.
"When it gets time to get on the field, you've just got to get that mind-set that you've got to get it done," Genus said. "It ain't going to get done trying to be passive."