Playing football at the University of Alabama and, consequently, for coach Nick Saban can be tricky. He's a coach who demands a lot of his players and has gotten a lot in return.
When former Brookstone star Brian Vogler joined the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in 2010, the tight end said it felt like he was on pins and needles, trying to prove to Saban he belonged.
"You feel like you're on pins and needles because you want to play fast and smart, but you're also trying to prove to him you have the wherewithal and the knowledge to be on the field," Vogler said.
Fast forward three years, and the redshirt junior's career has picked up a furious pace. From the final weeks of the 2012 season to now, he has gone from a backup to making key blocks against Georgia in the SEC championship game to earning the No. 1 position on the depth chart and being named on the Mackey Award watch list, which names the nation's top tight end.
And he's caught his coach's attention.
"Brian has got a really good attitude about things," Saban told reporters.
"He is one of the guys that can sustain. You create your own standard of superiority whatever you're trying to do.
"But the challenge is can you sustain that? Can you continue to do it with consistency and consistency in performance?
"That's one thing that he has the mental toughness and maturity to do so it allows you to continue to improve. He's done a really good job so far."
Vogler, more or less, gave the same assessment of himself as a player right now. Sure he's happy with his role on a team that has won three of the past four national championships and is a favorite for the title again this year. Absolutely, it's an honor to be recognized as one of the top tight ends in the country heading into the 2013 season.
The concern for Vogler, however, is consistently improving and making sure he helps his team win.
"Just because you earn that No. 1 spot doesn't mean you can't lose it," he said.
"In a program like this, you have to constantly prove you deserve that position. When we started in the spring, it was a brand new slate and a brand new team. Everything from last year is thrown out the window.
"It's an honor to be thought of as a guy of that caliber, compared to the rest of the great players on (the Mackey watch list). Honestly, though, I just need to focus on how I can do my job better. Like coach Saban said at (SEC) media days: "The media doesn't always predict the right things, so you still have to get out there and prove yourself."
That means on the field and in the locker room, Vogler said.
"Taking more of a leadership role isn't an easy thing to do," he said.
"It's not easy to be out there and be vocal, so there's a little extra pressure.
"Once you get out there, though, all that kind of goes out the window and you're just focused on doing what you need to do."
Speaking about his game, the 6-foot-7 Vogler said he was a bit of a hybrid of Alabama's three most recent tight ends: Preston Dial, Brad Smelley and Michael Williams.
Dial was "in your face 24/7"; Smelley was more of a "finesse kind of guy"; Williams, known for his blocking, could still "slip by you and get a touchdown."
"Each year you have a different mold of a guy," Vogler said.
"When you watch film on each guy, you try to take something they do and bring it into your game.
"That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to pull everything I see out of their talents and try to mix it in my game."
It's a wise practice, considering each of those tight ends have helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national title. Asked if that was on his mind, though, Vogler wouldn't bite.
Taking a page out of the Nick Saban Approach to the Season, the tight end was clear about what was on his mind.
"I'm trying to get better each day in camp, so we can beat Virginia Tech in the opener," he said.
What about Texas A&M?
"Like I said, I'm just focused on getting ready for Virginia Tech. Whatever happens in that game or at the end of the year -- that's just how it goes."
-- Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star contributed to this story.