When you were growing up in Northern Virginia, who were your sports heroes?
I would have to say I grew up a Redskins fan. I loved watching Sean Taylor. I would say he was my favorite safety in the league. I liked Sean Taylor a lot also because he was a man of faith, too, like me. I used to just watch him pray before every game. He was just one of my favorite guys.
But he was definitely different once he got on the field, wasn't he?
Yeah. He was a mellow guy off the field. But on the field, he would snatch your face mask off. Sean Taylor was probably my favorite athlete. As a young football player playing safety, I tried to model my game after him. He played football the right way. He played it how it was supposed to be played.
You like basketball. So are you a Kobe guy or a LeBron guy?
Man, I'm a Kevin Durant guy. Kevin Durant is from D.C., and he's a great athlete. And he's so passionate about the game. But if you know him off the field, like I do, he's a great guy. He does everything he does for the Lord, and he's always giving back to the community. One day, I want to be in a position playing this game to actually use my platform to reach kids and minister to them. We can't just take football for granted. If kids see a sports figure they admire, they really will listen to that message.
Durant is so clutch. Is there a guy in sports more clutch?
Well, I'm biased. I'm going to say it's K.D. I enjoyed watching (the Thunder) in the playoffs this year. I enjoy watching (teammate) Russell Westbrook a lot, too, and what he does at the point guard position.
Okay, here are our weekly questions. What's playing the most on your iPod right now?
Never Would Have Made It by (gospel singer) Marvin Sapp.
What website do you visit the most?
Does Twitter count?
It's a website, right? I would say Twitter.
What reality show do you never miss?
My girlfriend has me watching that show Top Chef, that cooking show. I watch it. I act like I don't like it, but it's actually all right.
I read that you majored in economics. What was the hardest class you took?
It was called International Economics 424. I ended up getting a C-plus. My dad is a teacher, so he don't play with the grades. If you bring a C home, it's not acceptable. But that class was one of the hardest classes I took in college, and when I came out with a C-plus, I was happy. I was just happy to get it over with.
What did your dad say?
I explained it to him. I told him that the highest grade in the class was a B-plus. I was like, 'Dad, it's my senior year. You've got to cut me some slack.'
What was it like growing up with a dad who was a teacher?
In my house, if your grades weren't up to par, you couldn't do anything. I don't mean just sports. I mean anything. You'd stay in the house until you got your grades on point. He was a disciplinarian. But at the same time, he would reward you when you did what you had to do.
You come from Virginia, so how did you end up at Nebraska?
Because of the Blackshirt tradition (on defense). I saw Nebraska play against Miami when Eric Crouch was the quarterback (in the January 2002 BCS title game). I thought that Blackshirt thing was kind of neat. When I took a visit, I fell in love with it. As a matter of fact, that's back when Raheem (Morris) was trying to recruit me for Kansas State. What he doesn't know is that Coach (Bill) Callahan beat him to the punch because he came to my house a week before Rah did.
Do you guys ever talk about you turning him down?
He still talks about it. When I got here last year, he told me, 'Yeah, it took seven years, but I finally got you.' He's always giving me a hard time about it, but me and Rah go a long way back. He visited a couple of times, and through phone calls and text messages, I got to know him a lot. It's just a blessing to be on this team and have a head coach I knew before. Not a lot of guys in the National Football League have that kind of relationship with their head coach.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]