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How did you settle on Hillsdale when you were choosing a college?

“So, I wanted to play football in college and I had a couple of schools recruit me, but they were mostly D-III schools. After my last game my senior year, Hillsdale contacted me and one of the coaches called me up. I met him, took a trip to visit the school, they offered me a little bit of money. I said, “You know what, this is definitely the place for me.” I kinda fell in love with it right when I came to campus.

What do you enjoy about being here?

“I feel like I’m a true student-athlete. I feel like if I would’ve gone to a big university I would just be a number, or if I were to play football at a bigger place and just walk on, I think I’d just get lost into the mix. Here I really feel like I’m able to be my own person, learn more about myself, and have the opportunity to develop phenomenal relationships with both guys in the team, in the dorm when I was an RA, the student body, and the professors I’ve been able to work with in the chemistry and biology departments.”

What dorm were you in?

“I was in Simpson for four years and an RA for three years. It was a lotta fun, lotta stress, but I’m very thankful that Ms. Wilson gave me the opportunity.”

How do you feel about the football team this year, especially the past few games?

“I’m excited. I mean, we lost a tough one last week to McKendree but we’ve got a lotta good guys on this team and we’ve worked our butts off since early in the winter. The fifth-year seniors like me, we’ve been working our butts off since 2013. I think we’ve got great senior leadership, I think we’ve got great guys, guys buying into what the coaches are trying to teach. At the end of the day, we’ve just gotta get out there and keep doing our thing. I think we’re gonna continue our run.”

What are you studying?

“I’m a biochem major and I might minor in biology if they let me. I wanna go into medicine. I’ve applied to medical school this summer for classes beginning next summer. I have a few interviews right now, a few more schools I have to hear from. Yeah, I’m excited for it. A little anxious but excited.”

Why’d you choose biochemistry?

“I just figured it was the best of both worlds. I always liked chemistry in high school, I liked a little bit of biology. I was interested in learning about the human body and its metabolic pathways, including the different reactions between biological molecules and how they contribute to how we break down fat and carbs. Stuff like that.”

Have you had any influential teachers or moments?

“I’ve got a few. I’d definitely say, across the board, chemistry faculty and biology faculty have just been phenomenal. Dr. Baron, Dr. Hamilton, Dr. Meyet, Dr. Steiner, I could name honestly all of them. They’re just two quality departments, and it’s just been cool to develop a great professor-student relationship and get to know them really well. I think I’m a much better student and a much smarter individual. It’s always nice when you know the professors are working their butts off for you too.”

What do you think about the core?

“Well, I understand why they do it, and I do actually really respect Hillsdale for it. My first class here was Western Heritage. It was a great class, super hard though. I was never really like a history, philosophy-type person coming out of high school. But after I’ve been here for a couple years and I’ve had a few classes, I think especially the one class was the leadership class with Dr. Jennings. Now, going back, I’m definitely appreciative I was able to study a little bit of theology and learn a little bit about the Constitution. Just for the sake of  having the experience and knowing what they’re about.”

Can you tell us anything about Coach Otter that someone might not expect?

“The dude is horrible with technology. He’s not good with the computer. If he does something cool like bring up a Powerpoint or switch over a slide, he always brags about it. Like, come on man. He’s not that good with technology. The Zac Brown Band, with the song toes in the water, I think that’s still his ringtone. That part is pretty cool.”

In the four years you’ve been playing, what’s been the most challenging moment?

“I’ll just go big picture on this one. Being undersized, I’m a defensive tackle, 5’11” and 260 pounds. Against most players, I’m pretty undersized, and I’m not that tall, and I’m really not that fast. So coming in was actually really difficult because I didn’t look like a freak athlete. We’ve got some guys on the team and you just look at them and say ‘wow, that guy’s a stud,’ and that’s just not my body. I’ve always had to work my tail off, do extra reps, in the weight room, on the field. I think that was the challenge, trying to overcome the adversity of predisposed judgements because of how I looked as an individual. I’ve been able to push through it, and now I’m starting at defensive tackle, playing 30, 40, 50+ plays a game, contributing to the team, the way in my mind, from day one, I knew I would. It’s been hard, a real journey, and the journey continues to go through that adversity and go through that fight. And to be surrounded by the teammates, I couldn’t ever do it without some of the guys in my corner. I think that part’s definitely been the most challenging, but at the same time, that’s the part I’ve been most thankful for.

Does the football team have any special rituals?

“Honestly, it’s another week. You wanna go 1-0 every week. Our mind is set on our opponents every Saturday. After we play the game, we watch the film, then put our focus on Kentucky Wesleyan. Whether it’s homecoming, a title game, it’s just another week of preparation. We’ve gotta continue to embrace the process and just work our butts off.”

What would you want to tell your parents?

“Honestly I love them. Couldn’t do it without them. I’ve been a pain in the butt sometimes, but it’s only because I love them. Honestly without their support I wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now and will be in for the rest of my life.”

-Compiled by Cal Abbo