Oct. 3, 2009
Meet the New Sack King
What does breaking Northwest's sack record mean to you?
SP: It's an awesome feeling. I was here when Ryan Waters broke the record back in 2006 and seeing the excitement on his face and then being able to do the same thing a few years later - there's no better feeling. I couldn't envision anything like this my freshman year.
You certainly picked the right venue to earn sack No. 25.
SP: It was cool breaking the record at home in front of my family, friends and the home crowd. I wouldn't have wanted to do it anywhere else.
What did you admire in Ryan's game when he was here?
SP: Ryan was an every-down type of guy. He wasn't streaky, he was consistent. Ryan excelled at transitioning into a pass rusher when initially reading run and that plays a big part in being successful. It's being able to get to the quarterback even if you don't know it's a pass play right away.
What has helped you maintain a similar level of consistency?
SP: I came in on passing situations and always had fresh legs my freshman year. I wasn't an every-down guy that season and split downs with Dallas Flynn. That certainly played a role in my initial success.
Now that I've grown as a player and teams have seen me 3-4 years on film, they have a better idea of what I like to do and that creates a challenge. You have to keep growing as a pass rusher and expand your repertoire. I've been trying to do that hopefully I keep getting better.
What's been the biggest difference in your game since you arrived on campus?
SP: My understanding of the defense. My freshman year I knew where I was supposed to be before every snap, but I didn't understand what was going on behind me or beside me.
Now that I've gained that understanding, I have more leeway in what I can do. I know when I can take a chance on the edge and when I need to focus on containing the middle. I've grown as a player, but the knowledge of the roles of my teammates has been where my biggest growth as a football player has come.
You and your teammates lead the nation with 24 sacks. What's contributed to that success?
SP: We do so many different things and bring pressure in so many different ways. We can get it done with four if we have to or we can let our linebackers make plays. Our schemes are important as well. (Scott) Bostwick does a great job of putting us in position to make plays. He spends all week trying to figure out how we can get to the quarterback, because we know rattling a quarterback plays a big role in winning games.
How did you find out about Northwest?
SP: I was called into the guidance office from class one day. I had no idea why. When I walked in, there was Coach Wright sitting there with a green jumpsuit on and he said, " They told me you want to talk a little football.
He told me how aggressive the defense was at Northwest and the tradition that had been developed in the last few years and he said I could be one of the guys that could help continue it. It was the first I'd heard of Northwest, but I came on a visit. I'd scheduled some other places, but once I got down here, I didn't even bother going elsewhere. I knew this was it.
What were your thoughts on redshirting a year?
SP: It's kind of funny. I knew Northwest redshirted most of its guys, but I was that young guy that thought I was going to come in and be different. I played linebacker at Pleasant Valley but didn't know what Coach was going to do with me. When they said I was going to put my hand on the ground, I knew I needed to grow physically. I was 215 pounds when I arrived, but the next year I was up to 245. That one year made a big difference. I couldn't have been half the player I was without that extra year.
You played linebacker, offensive guard and fullback in high school. Did you play any other sports?
SP: I played a little bit of everything really. I was a big basketball guy growing up, but I had some differences with our coach and that led me into swimming. I did that to stay in shape and to do something good for my body. Then I asked to work out with the wresting team and wound up getting myself suckered into a match, which I won. It was JV, but none-the-less. I played baseball for a few years, but decided I wanted to spend my summers doing football camps. I ran a little track and actually ran my freshman year, but after that I was just a thrower.
Paddock and the Bearcats take on 12th-ranked Missouri Western in a battle for first place in the MIAA Saturday. Game time from Spratt Stadium in St. Joseph, Mo., is set for 1:30 p.m.
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