By Ellie Lieberman
Athletic Communications Intern
The Washington University in St. Louis football team hosts Millikin University Saturday at Francis Olympic Field, as the Bears celebrate Senior Day. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (CT).
Why did you choose to come to WashU? I chose to come to Washu because of the opportunities I saw to develop both as a student at a prestigious university as well as an athlete in one of the best football programs in the nation. When I came to visit I fell in love with the campus as well as the collaborative culture here. Though I could live without the bipolar Midwest weather.
What O-Lineman do you model your game after? To be honest I never really watched any football until my senior year of high school. I guess if I had to pick one, many of my friends have told me that I remind them of Ryokan Kurita. However, most of my game comes from a lot of trial and error on the field over the years. I have been very blessed with some great coaches over my football career who really helped me develop my technique.
How do you think your game has most improved at WashU? Primarily my focus on technique. My freshman/sophomore year I was weighing around 320 pounds and my game plan was more or less just to fall on top of someone and hope that they fall too. However my junior year I came into the season much lighter at 240 and had to basically relearn the fundamentals now that I could no longer just rely on being bigger than the guy across from me.
What is your biggest takeaway from Coach K? Coach K has been way more than just a coach to me. My freshman year I was seriously considering quitting the team and I remember sitting down with Coach K and he told me that I could just quit, but he saw that I had an opportunity to really do something special here in this program both on and off the field. His faith in me is one of the main reasons why I decided to stick with the team. During my time here he's been an exceptional coach, mentor, and role model to me. He has helped me develop as a football player as well as a person overall and for that I am eternally grateful.
What are your post-graduation plans? Currently I am pursuing a career in marketing and eventually want to start my own business.
Why did you choose to come to WashU? I was searching for an excellent MBA program where I could also focus on Entrepreneurship. Olin School of Business was recently ranked #1 in the USA for its Entrepreneurship program, so I am honored to be here. Growing up in St. Louis, everyone knows that the school on the hill is a center of excellence, and so I was very happy to have been accepted.
You're a rarity in that you came from a Big-12 program at Oklahoma State. What are your takeaways from playing football at such a high level D-1 institution? It's a privilege to play football at any level – the odds are astronomical when you think about all of the high school kids who play. So, I am extremely fortunate to have been a scholar-athlete at a D1 school, and one as competitive as Oklahoma State. My takeaways were that it's definitely a different ball game in D1, but the players and staff are just as dedicated to winning here as they are there.
How do you think your game has most improved at WashU? I have become close with the coaches and the players, and in the case of the players, I am kind of the old man of the team. In some cases, I am as much as seven years older. Still, it's a very tight-knit team here, and we honestly all have one another's backs. One thing that was big for me is that the players have such a heart for the game. With how rigorous the academic program is here, to add football to the mix can be a grind, but these guys bring it to the field and give it their best every day. When I arrived at WashU, I had not played in three years due to an injury and taking a year off to work. So, I really had to rediscover my game. The coaching staff and players were very supportive as I worked to get back to the sport I love.
You clearly have a big sports family with several college members having played at the college level. What have they taught you? The most important thing they have taught me – and each athlete in my family performed at a very high level – is that football will end someday. It's important to prepare for what comes next. That has guided my decision-making every step of the way.
What are your post-graduation plans? I have plans to launch a business with a friend that I met here at Olin, George Teslovich who is also a former WashU Bear. We are very excited about it, and WashU gave us some start-up funding to get going this summer. I guess you could say that I really am a product of the entrepreneurship program.