College Athlete of the Week
Junior | Idaho | football
Hometown: Everett (Archbishop Murphy)
What he did: Had his third interception of the season in the Vandals’ 35-23 win over Hawaii, a victory that made Idaho bowl eligible for the first time since 1998.
What’s next: Keo and the Vandals (6-1 overall, 3-0 in the Western Athletic Conference) travel to Reno to take on Nevada in a battle of WAC unbeatens Saturday.
The two-minute drill
Congratulations on becoming bowl eligible after so many years. What does it mean to you to be a part of the team that ended that draught?
It means so much. I’ve been here for some time now. We’ve definitely put the work in. It makes me happy because all the older guys that taught me what to do and how to do it, they’re calling me now and congratulating me. They were the ones who put us in this position, so it’s great to be able to share this with them.
Part of the bowl experience is the trip. If you had your way, where would the Vandals be preparing for a bowl game?
If I had my way, I’d want to be in the national championship. But with the fact that most of my family is from Hawaii, I’d have to say I’d love to be there for a bowl game.
Your only loss this season was to Washington. The same can be said for USC. How about an Idaho-USC bowl game, since it looks like you’re both out of the running for a national title?
I would love to do that. Two years ago, we went down to L.A. and played them in the Coliseum, and we had a pretty good day. But we still lost. People were happy with the way we played, but we didn’t get the win. I would love to have another chance at them.
Easy for you to say. You wouldn’t have to face USC All-American Taylor Mays, who plays on the other side of the ball.
I wouldn’t mind going against him. That guy is one of the best safeties in college football, and you always want to go against the best. I wouldn’t mind going against him, or his teammates, because they’re the best out there.
So now that the Vandals are bowl eligible, I take it you guys are spending practice time playing hackeysack and watching the ALCS?
Nah. Not even. That was one of our goals: to make a bowl game. But another goal was to win the WAC. Right now, we’re at the top of the WAC all alone, but we’ve got a big game this weekend because Nevada is right there on our heels. So we’re still trying to win the WAC before we think about going to a bowl game.
The Herald ran a series last year counting down the most successful coaches in Snohomish County history http://www.heraldnet.com/section/NEWS010308 . You’re one of the only people who has played for two of our top three. So tell us: What were the similarities and differences between Terry Ennis and Dennis Erickson?
The similarities were that they’re both such player-coaches. They’ll do anything for the players. Their practices were similar in that they worked you hard, but they wanted us to take care of ourselves. They were always thinking about the players’ health first. The biggest difference is the coaching staffs. Everyone is always on you in college. It’s a different level; in college, they’re a lot more intense, always yelling and running around. There’s a lot more at stake. But the way Coach Ennis coached, it wasn’t that big of a difference. He paid attention to every detail, so it was like a college practice.
Are they still mad at Coach Erickson over there in Moscow?
I’m pretty sure they are. But no one’s worried about that now. Things are going well for us, so nobody’s talking about it.
Current Idaho coach Robb Akey grew up in Colorado, but we’ll count him as Snohomish County offspring since he played for Everett’s Mike Price at WSU. What do you like about Coach Akey?
His enthusiasm. He’s a great coach, and he understands what he’s doing and what needs to be done. And I like the fact that he’s a defensive coach. He’s always keeping an eye out for us defensive guys. And he’s a father figure. We always can go to him with anything.
You’ve already intercepted eight passes as a college player, including three this year. How come you always seem to be in the right spot?
Luck. (Laughs) I take the initiative to study a lot of film, so when I’m on the field I have a good understanding of what (the opposing offense is) doing. And the other 10 guys are a big part of it too. When the d-line gets pressure, that creates a lot of turnovers. And that’s what’s happened on every one of my interceptions: there’s been a defensive guy in the quarterback’s face.
If you keep it up, you might be in an NFL training camp someday. What would you think about playing for another Snohomish County product: Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable?
That would be awesome. It’s been my dream since I started playing this sport to play in the NFL. I’ve always wanted to be there. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’d love to. And Coach Cable would be awesome to play for because he was a Vandal. He went here and coached here, so he knows what Idaho football is all about. It would be awesome to play for him.
But that would mean Al Davis would be your boss.
If anyone is willing to sign me on their team, I’ll be the happiest man in the world. If they want to give me a chance to achieve my goal, I’ll give them 110 percent – whoever it is.
— Scott M. Johnson, Herald Writer
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