For our latest Chatting With segment, we were able to meet up with basketball star Benny Parker. Parker is a 5’10” point guard for Summer Academy. Parker, a Nebraska commit, is a nightmare on the defensive side of the ball. Along with his defense, Parker is able to penetrate and kick extremely well. Parker managed to put up gaudy numbers in his senior year in which he averaged 24.8 points, more than six assists and nearly four steals per game this season. Parker shows elite leadership skills that led his high school team to 2 state championships. Furthermore, Benny’s talents did not go unnoticed when we won the DiRenna Award, an award for the top boys basketball player in Kansas City.
1. How did your love for basketball come about? Is it something you have always played and excelled in or did it take a lot hard work to get where you are?
BP: My love for basketball came when I was little and always carried around a Balla DN playing on the little kiddy goals. I have always played basketball but at the same time put a lot of work in t get where I am today.
2. Is there any one person who helped your game on the court with advise? If so, who is that person and how did they help you?
BP: The person that has made a major influence in my game is my AAU coach Victor Williams, he puts in overtime with me in the gym to get my skills better.
3. Has it always been a dream to play basketball in college? Was it always a goal to play Division 1 basketball?
BP: It has always been a dream of mine to play college ball and a goal of mine to play division one ball. I have always wanted to play with the best players in the country and I am extremely excited to have been given the chance to play against the best.
4. What was the deciding factor to you committing to the University of Nebraska?
BP: My deciding factor to commit to UNL was the coaching staff and great facilities. I got along great with all the coaches and Nebraska felt like a place I could see myself playing at.
5. Have you spoken with newly hired coach Miles? If so, how has your relationship grown?
BP: I’ve spoken to Coach Miles and I was already familiar with him before and I look to having a better relationship down the road, not only with Coach Miles but all the coaches at Nebraska.
6. What is the one thing you look most forward to while playing basketball at the next level?
The one thing I look for forward to is playing in front of everybody and achieving a victory. Hopefully, I can help lead Nebraska to new heights.
7. What are the strong points of your game? What are things you can improve on?
BP: My strong point are my speed and defense ability, I can improve more on my 3-point shooting. I put a lot of work in the gym on my shooting everyday.
9. Do you already have goals set for when you get to Nebraska as far as being a basketball player?
BP: My goal at Nebraska will be getting good chemistry with my teammates and help improve the basketball program.
So that’s it. We want to thank Benny Parker for completing this interview. Also, if by chance you missed our previous Chatting with… segment, check out our interview with Derek Hall, a 49ers practice player. We want to wish Benny a successful future at Nebraska and possibly a follow up interview. And remember, if you know someone who should be recognized for the week in our Chatting with… segment, email Spencer Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this week’s edition of Chatting with… we sat down with the two time Boy’s Gatorade Runner of the Year Zach Herriott. The All-American, coming off a State Championship his junior year, had a historic senior season for Rockhurst High School, winning most of his races, setting numerous course records, and helping the Rockhurst Cross Country Team finish its best ever at State with a second place finish. He continued this success into the latter stages of the season, placing 4th at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regionals, which was good enough to qualify for the NXN meet (Nationals). At Nationals, he finished 9th place out of 200 in a race filled with some of the best runners in the country.
kcyoungguns: Thanks for taking the time Zach. Let’s start with the beginning of this season. After winning state last year, how did you deal with the expectations heading into this season as the State Champion?
Zach Herriott: Obviously, there is a lot of pressure being a defending state champion. But most of that pressure came from myself. After winning state, I set very high expectations for myself. But my downfall was that I couldn’t live with anything less than first. Of course I want to win every race I’m in. But the reality is you can’t win every single race, and being able to accept that was a big part in my maturation as a runner.
KC: I think it’s hard for someone who isn’t familiar with cross country to understand how cross country runners motivate themselves to run every day (sometimes even twice a day). How did you motivate yourself to become better when you already were the best in the state?
ZH: If anything, state motivated me to work harder. After state, there was a huge target on my back. I knew that everyone was gunning for me. Because of that, I had to work even harder than I was before, because I knew all my competition was doing the same. And I also realized that in the huge world of high school running, there are hundreds of state champions because there are multiple classes per state. So instead of being a state champion, I had to take it to the next level and work to be an All-American. KC: It seems like the Rockhurst Cross Country team was a really close knit group of guys, almost like a family. What do you think attributed to this closeness as a team?
ZH: Our team was so close because we all wanted to be great. We all wanted to win state. To do that, everyone understood we needed to forge a trust between each other. That trust includes things like always thinking of your teammates before yourself and making sure that everyone is always making the best decisions. As teenagers there are obviously a lot of opportunities to do stupid things that could be detrimental to our training. But we made a commitment and promise to each other that we would stay out of situations like that, and for the most part we were successful. KC: Throughout the season, you won most of your races and set numerous course records, what are you thinking about before a race, and can you tell before a race if it will be a good or bad one?
ZH: Before a race, I just remind myself that at the end of the day, that’s all it is: another race. I’ve done all the hard work and I’m always physically ready. I just had to go out there and execute. That’s something Coach Dierks always stressed. He reminded me the hard work was already done, I just had to go out there and do my thing. Sickness, lack of focus, and nerves are the three bad signs for me before a race. Sickness is obvious. If I’m not focused and ready to race, then I might go out too fast or slow and that can ruin the rest of the race. I learned that lesson my junior year and that wasn’t an issue this past season. Nerves can be good to an extent. But at State this past season, I was so nervous that I was having difficulty talking and breathing. That’s when I knew that wasn’t going to be my day. It’s important to be able to channel those nerves into positive energy
KC: I’m sure you’ve explained this countless times, but I must ask. You were in the lead at State this year with 2 miles left. Can you describe what happened after those 2 miles?
ZH: I felt the shutdown coming. Even after one mile, I knew I was going downhill. But at the two mile mark, my whole body basically locked up. My arms were incredibly weak and my legs felt like concrete. It was the worst feeling in the world because I was pretty conscious of what was going on, but I couldn’t do anything about it. People just kept flying past me and I couldn’t pick up my legs at all to stay with them. At that point, I knew I just had to finish so that I wouldn’t let down my teammates.
KC:Despite the tough race, the Rockhurst Cross Country team placed 2nd at state. What did that mean to you?
ZH: Getting second as a team was better than winning individually. It would’ve been even better if I had done better individually of course. But once we found out we got second, we huddled together and were just so happy. I can’t even explain the feeling in words. We just looked at each other and knew that we did something very significant. We left our mark on the Rockhurst cross country program, and no one will ever forget our class, because we started a tradition of excellence. That is something really special to all of us that we’ll treasure forever.
KC: After the State meet, you bounced back with a 4th place finish at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional? How were you able to look past the previous meet and succeed at the Regionals Meet?
ZH: To be honest, I think the failure at state led to my success at Nike Regionals. I realized that I was way too tense at state. So at Regionals, I simply relaxed. Instead of focusing about the race too much, I just focused on enjoying the time with my team. Before the race when we huddle up to pray and wish each other luck, it’s normally really serious. But at Regionals, we were all joking and laughing the whole time. That took my mind off the race and forced me to focus on simply enjoying the moment because I knew that might have been my last high school cross country race if I didn’t get top five. But I raced very patiently and before I knew it I found myself in second place with 400 meters left. I fell back to fourth but I didn’t care. I qualified and that’s all that mattered.
KC: After Regionals, you qualified for the NXN meet (Nationals) and placed 9th. What was it like running in that kind of big time setting?
ZH: Nike Cross Nationals was one of the most memorable experiences of my high school career. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by the number of good runners there. But I got to know a lot of them, and realized most of them are just like me. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the race. I used the patience that I learned at Nike Regionals to my advantage at Nationals. The race went out really fast but I stayed at the very back of the race and slowly worked my way up. With about one mile left, I looked around and realized that all of the top runners were around me. That was when it finally hit me that I was having the race of my life. So I just stayed up with them until the end. Finishing and being able to say that I got 9th out of 200 of the nation’s best runners and can now be called an All-American was an amazing feeling and I’m proud of it because I’ve worked incredibly hard and have had to sacrifice a lot to get to this level.
KC: Looking toward the future, what colleges are you considering, and is there any one college you’re leaning toward?
ZH: The college process has been very hectic but it is definitely almost done. I visited Georgetown and Notre Dame in the fall, and have visited Oklahoma and Wisconsin this winter. All are great programs and schools, so the decision will be very difficult. I’m not leaning towards any one in particular at this point because I just finished my visits, so I’m going to sit down and evaluate them all and hopefully have a decision in a couple weeks.
KC: You were just recently named the Boy’s Gatorade Runner of the Year for the second year in a row. What does it mean for you to win that award for a second time in a row?
ZH: Winning the Gatorade award was very important to me because it only recognizes all-around student athletes. Simply being a good runner is not enough to win the award, as the award’s history shows. Recipients must be good students and contributing citizens in their communities. Because of all the factors that are considered when deciding a winner, I am especially proud of this award and to be a two time recipient is incredible. I am very grateful to everyone that’s supported me in my running, especially my parents and Coach Dierks. Without them, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today and I am proud to say they have been huge influences in my life.
We want to thank Zach again for taking the time to complete this interview. Also, if by chance you missed our previous Chatting with… segment, check out our inteview with Blue Springs South do-it-all football standout Connor Harris. And remember, if you know someone who should be recognized for the week in our Chatting with… segment, email Blase Capelli at email@example.com or Spencer Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this week’s edition of Chatting with… we managed to get ahold of the do-it-all player out of Blue Springs South, Connor Harris. Harris, the Kansas City Star’s Boys Football Player of the Year, played quarterback, safety, kicker, and punter for Blue Springs South. He managed to help lead his team to a Missouri 6A State Championship, outshooting CBC in a game that saw big plays all over the field, especially from Harris.
kcyoungguns: Alright Connor, thanks for taking the time. After losing to Rockhurst in your 3rd game of the season, what did you tell your teammates after the loss? And how did that loss help you and your team later on in the season?
Connor Harris: I told them that we’re okay we didn’t play a bad game we just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. I also told them that we new to work harder and move on and get better if we want to play them again in the playoffs
KC: Later in the season, you guys beat the Missouri 5A defending State Champions Lee’s Summit West. What did that win mean to you and your team?
CH: To beat Lee’s Summit West, that was a big accomplishment. They are such a great team and have really good athletes and coaches. It also opened a lot of people’s eyes and we proved we were going to be a good team
KC: Incredibly, for our readers who don’t know, you play quarterback, safety, punter, and kicker. Do you ever get a play off or time to rest during the game?
CH: Haha not really. I don’t play kick return so that’s my rest, but at the beginning of the season I came out a couple more times because I wasn’t in shape but as the season went on, I rarely came out.
KC: It seems like more and more players are specializing to play one position. How did you manage to play all these positions at a very high level?
CH: You know, I just want to help my team out the most I can, and I kicked and played safety as a sophomore, and as a freshman I played QB. So when senior year came, everyone wanted me to play it again. Luckily I got to do all three.
KC: Let’s move on to the State Championship game. Can you describe the emotions you were feeling before the game?
CH: I used to get a little nervous before games, but before State for some reason I wasn’t. I just told my self and my teammates that we have nothing to lose, because nobody in the state of Missouri (the media especially) picked us to win or believed we even had a chance, but we all believed in each other and so did our fans. I also think I didn’t get nervous was because I knew that this was everything we have worked for and I was just going to enjoy it no matter what happened. It was just the best feeling in the world.
KC: After working your whole high school career to win a State Championship, what were your emotions like at the end of the game against CBC?
CH: After the game, to see all of our coaches smiling and laughing and everyone hugging each other and just knowing we did what we had dreamed about since freshman year was the greatest feeling. Also, seeing all my family standing there at the hotel waiting for me (I have a lot of family who live in st louis) after the game was a great feeling. For them to come see me play was amazing.
KC: Many would argue that you were the best football player in the Kansas City area. Could you describe your reaction when you didn’t win the Simone Award?
CH: You know I was a little disappointed, but I knew that it was going to be a toss up between all four of us. And Evan deserved that award. He is a great player and did a lot for his team throughout his career there. I was just satisfied to even be a finalist and to even be apart of that ceremony.
KC: Although you didn’t win the Simone Award, you did win the Kansas City Star’s Boys Football Player of the Year award. What does that award mean to you?
CH: That award meant a lot too me, there are so many great athletes in the KC metro and to be named the best, it was a great feeling because there are so many great players.
KC: Now that high school football is over, as of now, do you have future plans involving football?
CH: Yeah, I plan playing football in college, but I still don’t know where I am going, but I do know I want to major in Criminal justice and have a future in law enforcement.
So that’s it. We want to thank Connor Harris for completing this interview. Also, if by chance you missed our previous Chatting with… segment, check out our interview with Derek Hall, a 49ers practice player and Rockhurst Alum. And remember, if you know someone who should be recognized for the week in our Chatting with… segment, email Blase Capelli at email@example.com or Spencer Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For this weeek’s segment of Chatting with…we have a gem. With the 49ers soon to face off against the high-scoring New Orleans Saints in the playoffs, we thought who better to interview than a 49ers player. Yes, that’s right, this week’s interview is with Derek Hall, a Rockhurst High School graduate, former Stanford player, and currently a 49ers practice squad player. The 6’5, 307 pound tackle has been working hard to make the active roster and was apart of the Stanford football team that beat Virginia Tech in the 2011 Orange Bowl.
kcyoungguns: How difficult was the transition from Rockhurst to the Division 1 powerhouse Stanford University?
Derek Hall: It was a pretty difficult transition just because whenever you go up a level in competition the guys get bigger, stronger, and faster. You know it takes a while to get used to it to find your role. It took me a while; I didn’t end up starting until senior season because that’s when I finally figured out that offensive tackle was the best position for me. It’s just really challenging because you’re in a new environment and you’re at the bottom of the food chain and you just have to work your way up.
KC: How did you climb through the ranks to eventually become a starter at Stanford? What did it take?
DH: I actually ended up having to change positions because it just took me a while to figure out that I was better served playing offensive line then defensive line just because of my natural abilities. Therefore, I had kind of a slow start and eventually as I got better and guys ahead of me graduated I was presented with my opportunity and I found tremendous motivation to fight my up to getting the starting job. It actually all started after I lost my mom; I made a vow to myself that I would not graduate without her getting to see me play again. It just all fueled me to play harder than I ever had done before. Eventually when I was presented with the opportunity to start at tackle I just did everything I could to take the position. I was then able to have a really good senior year, and it all turned out well.
KC: Last year, you guys beat Virginia Tech in the Orange bowl in your first bowl appearance since the Sun Bowl in 2009. What was that feeling like?
DH: It was incredible. It was one of the biggest senses of accomplishment I’ve ever had in my life. It was just a super euphoric moment when you just feel the ultimate joy of everything you’ve worked so hard for culminating in an eruption of a really happy moment. You’re just really happy; you just want to hug everyone especially your teammates and celebrate in the moment together. It was just an amazing moment, one of the best moments of my whole life.
KC: Now we understand you declared for the draft last year and didn’t get drafted. What was the next step? How did you handle the adversity?
DH: You know I didn’t get drafted and it really hurt me. It just hurts your pride when you see guys getting drafted ahead of you that you feel like you could have played better then. But eventually I just shook it off and told myself that I couldn’t let anything break me. Now I kind of have an extra chip on my shoulder because I feel like I should have been drafted, I feel like I was good enough too. I just use that motivation that whatever team picked me up and signed me I was going to prove them wrong and prove to them that they should have drafted me. So I just kept working really hard and training with other guys and once the lockout ended two teams called including the 49ers and they really wanted me. It was good situation because I already knew the coaches there and I loved the Bay Area and it just felt like the right fit for me; especially since I already knew the offense so it would be a much smoother transition playing for the 49ers.
KC: Could you briefly talk about your relationship with old Stanford coach and now head coach of the 49ers Jim Harbaugh? How did that play into your decision?
DH: It had a lot of say in my decision. As an undrafted free agent I enter into the league in a much tougher role. No one is going to give you anything. Therefore if I go to a team where no one knows me I have to work with that team just to try to get them to like me to get them to want to keep me around. Whereas coach Harbaugh and the staff already know me, they know what they’re getting in me. They like me and they care, and therefore they’re willing to coach me up and get me ready. Whenever you have a personal relationship with somebody, you’re going to want to invest more in him or her, so I just knew that it was going to be a better fit.
KC: Currently what is your status on the team and what does that entail?
DH: I’m currently on practice squad trying to get better every week. Practice squad is where you’re apart of the team but you’re not on the active roster list so you’re not technically under a big, binding contract. Therefore, they can replace and let people go as they please throughout the season. Pretty much I practice with the team. I’m there to help give a really good scout look for the defense and get better because the ultimate goal is to train us and get us playing at a high enough level to get on the active roster and eventually play for them. They’re not going to keep practice squad guys around who they don’t think can eventually contribute to the team.
KC: How has the transition from Stanford to the NFL been? How is the competition and intensity different?
DH: The change is incredible. It’s the absolute highest level of football you can get too. The guys are way bigger, stronger, and faster; especially the defensive linemen. It’s absolutely incredible the kinds of athletes these guys are and that was my biggest transition: just playing against guys that are so much better than what I was used to playing with in college. It’s hard at first especially because you’re just so stressed as a rookie because of the environment. They can cut you whenever they want if you underperform so it’s a high intensity environment. But eventually I was able to get my mind right and get used to the conditions and not think about if I were going to get cut today. I just work my hardest and I know that in the end I gave it my all in camp and I just keep telling myself that and it has helped me transition much easier into the NFL; and I’m just working my way up.
KC: Who is your biggest inspiration?
DH: I’d have to say my dad. He’s such a great example of strength and responsibility and taking care of business. I’m so proud of him and all I want to do is emulate the strength and responsibility that he demonstrates everyday, like still raising my family without my mom. He’s just so supportive of everyone, especially me, when I’m handling all of the stress of the NFL right now. Yea, I’d definitely have to say my dad.
KC: When football is over, what’s the next step?
DH: I guess I have to go find a job! I want to work at a technology company because I studied communications and specifically how people interact with media and virtual reality at Stanford. I’m a technology guru so I see myself pursuing some kind of technology job eventually!
We would like to thank Zac Hardwick, who conducted the interview, and Derek Hall for completing it. If you missed them, check out our interviews with the Nebraska commit Mike Rose and the Kansas City Star’s Girls Golfer of the Year Baile Winslow. And remember, if you know someone who should be recognized for the week in our Chatting with… segment, email Blase Capelli at email@example.com or Spencer Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are hundreds of high school athletes in the Kansas City Area, and we here at kcyoungguns do not think that they are given the proper coverage. So, we’ve decided to interview one outstanding local athlete a week in what we will call the Chatting with… segment. We’re looking for the KC Young Guns that are making a difference in their respective sports.
This week, we’re here with Baile Winslow, the Kansas City Star’s girls golfer of the year and the Class 5A State Champion. The St. Thomas Aquinas golfer beat out the competition at State by 4 strokes and helped Aquinas win its fifth straight 5A State Championship in a row—as a junior. She plans to start her own blog, called bwinslowgolf13.wordpress.com, which will highlight her experience with golf.
KCyoungguns:To start things off, Baile, we wanted to ask you about your name. The spelling is very unique, is there some significance to that?
Baile Winslow: My mom always liked a show and the main character’s name was Bailey, but when she looked in the name book it was spelled this way…sometimes I think she might have overlooked that one.
KC: Alright, now on to golf. Baile, you won the individual 5A State Championship by 4 strokes. Can you describe what playing those last few holes were like?
BW: The last few holes were rough. I didn’t know where I stood in the tournament so I had no idea I was in the lead. The weather got pretty bad and I had a hard time keeping my hands warm and dry, which is important. The pin placements on the last few holes were tough, but I kept in mind the rest of the field would be struggling too. I tried to only focus on staying in the moment and taking it one shot at a time.
KC: St. Thomas Aquinas has a very strong tradition in girls golfing (the last five straight seasons a Saints player has finished first individually. Former State champions include Ali Kruse and Gianna Misenhelter). How do you think that strong tradition affected your game at State?
BW: People always expect Aquinas to win therefore that only motivates our team more. We work on setting goals throughout the season and are constantly working on how we can improve weaker parts of our game. The weeks leading up to state, Coach Best told us we needed to be the best short game team in the field. We worked longer than ever before on putting and chipping. As for pressure; I don’t really notice it I guess. Walking into state my goal was to win not only as an individual, but as a team. I think goals are the most important part of avoiding outside pressure because only you can determine what you expect from yourself.
KC: Was there anything important that you learned from Misenhelter or Kruse that has helped you with your game?
BW: Where do I start? Ali and Gianna are the first girls I met when I walked into Aquinas they have always been huge role models to me. I had only been playing golf for a few months before I met them so they were able to teach me so much about the game while at the same time we became very close friends. They have inspired many of the girls on our team to work hard and become the golfers we are.
KC: You just were honored with the title of “Kansas City Star’s girls golfer of the year.” What does that mean to you going forward?
BW: This title is really exciting for me. It shows me how much I have improved in a short amount of time which can sometimes be overlooked playing golf. It only motivates me more to see where my hard work will take me in the coming year.
KC: When did you start playing golf in the first place and why?
BW: That’s a tough one but my parents always were trying to get me to play golf but at first I hated it. Then I met some of the girls who played on the team at Aquinas and decided I wanted to do that too. And I had nothing else to do in high school. So, by the end of 8th grade I started practicing and worked at it all summer and was able to make varsity freshman year.
KC: Golf is an interesting sport in that you can win individually and then also win or possibly lose as a team. How do you balance both the individual and team aspects of golf?
BW: The most important thing to me is my team. They come first no matter what. At practice I know I need to be there to help and support them by giving them drills to do and different ways to work on their mental games. But by helping them, I learn a lot myself and discover new kinds of shots and ways of doing things. Plus golf is associated a lot with competing by yourself so I love being on a team working with other people.
KC: This year was your junior year, so you still have one season left. How are you preparing for next season, and what are the expectations?
BW: I’m preparing for next season by working on new shots, gaining distance and working more on my mental game. Golf is a never ending series of practicing and trying to get better. By gaining strength and endurance this winter I will be able to work harder and longer during the season to reach my goals for high school golf this fall. Unlike other sports, I’m not able to take the winter off; I need to keep practicing and working on fundamentals in order to be ready for a strong spring season. As for expectations, I will put myself in the position to win every tournament I play. I come to win and to improve myself from one year to the next which I feel I was able to do well in 2012.
KC: Not that we want to promote a competitor’s blog (we’re kidding), but you’ve told us that you’re soon going to start a blog yourself. Could you describe what the blog will be about, and why you started it in the first place?
KC: Haha, I have been thinking about doing something like this for a couple years now. It will start Jan. 1 and will be a daily update of something golf related for the entire year (bwinslowgolf13.wordpress.com) things like the tournaments I’m playing in and results from that, things that I have practiced that day, or something that just inspired me. Oh, and maybe I’ll put a link to kcyoungguns on it too…hmmm
KC: Well, we would greatly appreciate it. Since you are a junior, the college recruiting process is probably starting or has started. What has the recruiting process been like thus far and how have you handled it?
BW: The recruiting process isn’t easy; it’s a lot of work. Visiting schools is fun and I am starting to get an idea of what I am looking for in a coach and a school, but I am still nowhere near knowing where I am going to go. Being organized is important; my dad and I are working on a spread sheet that includes the schools I’m interested in, the coach, team averages and statistics along with some other things too.
KC: Spring is fast approaching, and let’s just say we here at kcyoungguns aren’t the best golfers. Do you have any tips for us and for our readers for the upcoming spring season?
BW: Practice! It’s the only thing you can really do to improve. Creating a good work ethic and setting goals for yourself is the only way you can reach your highest potential. Plus by doing those things and writing your experiences down you are able to see how you are improving. A few lessons never hurt anybody either!
KC: And finally, any last words or comments?
BW: I want to thank my family for all of their support this season especially my dad for teaching me how to play the game, as well as my teammates for being some of the best people I have ever met! On behalf of the entire team we want to thank the NHSCA coach of the year, Coach Best. Go Saints!
We want to thank Baile for taking the time do this interview. If you know someone who should be recognized for the week in our Chatting with… segment, email Blase Capelli at email@example.com or Spencer Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you missed last week’s interview, we sat down with Mike Rose, Nebraska linebacker commit, to discuss his upcoming Under Armour All America High School football game, which will be played on January 5th.
Although the high school football season has been done for quite a while, we decided to bring in Rockhurst senior linebacker Mike Rose, who will be playing for the University of Nebraska next year, to talk about his upcoming All-America game on January 5th.
Thegreatdebate1:So Mike, the Under Armour All-America High School football game is on January 5th. How do you feel going into the game?
Mike Rose: I am excited to go down there and play in a pretty prestigious all American game. I just hope I do my best and play well.
TGD: How did you react when you learned that you had been selected to play in the game?
MR: I was shocked, I called ESPN and talked to Tom Luginbill and told him they sent it to the wrong guy. He laughed and told me I was chosen. I was very honored, and I still am.
TGD: Have you been preparing for the game in a certain way? If so, how?
MR: I have been working out, running, staying in shape lifting. I realize the competition is going to be better, and there are going to be some bigger guys so I am preparing for that. That is what I am most excited about, is the challenge this game will bring.
TGD: This year, as a senior, you’ve been regarded as a top 150 recruit in the rankings (by both ESPN and Rivals). What does that mean to you?
MR: I don’t really buy in to all the rankings. You have a lot of guys that make these rankings and honestly some have favorites, some I don’t think have played football, and some are bios to certain schools. So to put a lot of stock into a guy because he is ranked, is not a credible source. I have hoped that people would know me by how well I played, not solely on my ranking.
TGD: We know that this year’s finish to the season was a disappointment for the Hawklets football team. As a player, how do you rebound from that?
MR: Well it is not that disappointing for me, because I have been given the chance to play at the next level. My heart goes out to my teammates who will not be able to play at the next level. We had the goal of winning a State Championship again and we did not achieve that goal. Though I have one ring, I am sorry, and I am greedy. We worked very hard but just came up short.
TGD:While this year’s finish was disappointing, last year the Hawklets won the State Championship. What was that like? And can you describe your emotions throughout the game?
MR: That was an amazing feeling, especially the way that game played out with that last drive and the incompletion. We played hard, we had a lot of guys go down with an injury throughout the game but we still prevailed. Just getting ready and coming in and being in a NFL locker room and all the hype around it. Then when the final 0:00 hit the clock, it was just all that hard work finally came to surface… It was amazing
TGD:The start of this past season was a little bumpy. For our readers, can you describe what happened, and how that experience has helped you grow as a football player and a leader?
MR: Yeah, we replaced some key guys from our State Championship run at QB, RB, OL, TE, WR basically every group on offense and some key special team positions. Our defense came in as ranked #1 in the nation, which proved to be too lofty of expectations. We were a team with great individual talent, but at times we could not bring it together to be the best team possible. That is no certain person’s fault; we all had our flaws and our mishaps. We didn’t put it all on the field and we lost because of that. That is my biggest regret, I became a better leader as time went on, but in the moments I look back, when my team needed me the most, I could have done more. I hope to go into Nebraska remembering from this year, that you only have a certain amount of time to accomplish your goals.
TGD: As you begin your career at Nebraska as a linebacker, what do you think of the legendary status of the Nebraska’s starting defensive players nicknamed the blackshirts?
MR: Right now we have not lived up to the legendary expectations, but those are some tough expectations. One of the best defenses ever, some say, came from the national championship Nebraska team (95′). I think as we get more familiar with the Big 10, we will play better. With the changes going on in the coaching staff, I think the intensity will come back. The expectation will not hide, so neither shall we.
TGD:We here at the greatdebate1 have heard that you are a big help to Bo Pelini on the recruiting trail. Can you describe how you try to persuade players to go to the University of Nebraska, and maybe give us some information on some players your hoping will decide on the University of Nebraska that you’ve been talking to?
MR: At this point I talk to a lot of guys, and you know it’s more than just about coming to Nebraska. It’s all genuine. I talk to some pretty good players that I have met from going to all the combines and camps over the past four years. I just talk to them about football, about how great the tradition is at Nebraska and the people. The people at Nebraska are some of the best people I have known, I love the Husker fans and coaches and players. People will be interested; I’m just a bridge from the players to the university. If you are genuine about what you’re talking about and you’re not giving these guys a bunch of fake stuff then they will listen. I’m talking to Jordan Diggs, Quanzell Lambert, Devin Fuller, Brandon Beaver, Alonzo Moore and a bunch of other guys. We have a chance at all of them. Hopefully we will be getting some good news here soon.
TGD: Any last comments you want to make to readers?
MR: Go Big Red!
Alright, well that’s it from Michael Rose. We wanted to thank Mike for his time and wish him the best of luck as he continues his football endeavors at the University of Nebraska. Who knows, maybe we will have another interview with him in the future.