Catanese Hopes for Good Showings in Hawaii

For some of the Sun Devils, the Hawaii Bowl marks the first time they've ever been to the Aloha State. For Zach Catanese this is second visit, with a third one coming in less than three weeks. But thoughts about the Hula Bowl have been put on-hold for the safety. After all, he knows he will have his hands full on Sunday. Devils Digest caught up with Catanese in a phone interview from Hawaii.

The first time Zach Catanese came to Hawaii was to visit family. These days he prepares with his football family to try and give Arizona State its third consecutive bowl victory in as many years. The senior might as well stay in the state he calls "paradise" to prepare for a game that will showcase his talents for NFL scouts. "I accepted an invitation to the Hula Bowl and it's a good deal coming back here in two weeks," he said. "It's a little more prestigious bowl than the one I was supposed to go to in Las Vegas. Hawaii is a great place to play a football game, and I'm excited to come back."

Even though the Hula Bowl ensures that the Hawaii Bowl won't technically be the last collegiate game he will play in, there's certainly a sense of finality for the transfer from Shasta (Calif.) Junior College. We caught up with him on Friday after his last ever practice for the maroon and gold, and he claimed it didn't feel extra special. "It's funny, because it hasn't hit me yet," he claimed. "It's not like I started to break down and cry today because it was my last practice (laughs). I'll realize it in a while, but right now it's a day just like any other day."

Indeed, for Catanese this is a business trip and the pleasure part of this venture has done nothing to overshadow the main purpose. "We know what we're here to do, and we're serious about it," he remarked. "We're in bed early every night before curfew. We do have our fun here, but we don't have that much spare time anyway." He admitted that the fact that this will be the last game for Head Coach Dirk Koetter does give extra motivation, but other than that "I'm going about this like any other game, and I'm serious about every game I play."

OK, all business talk aside, when they do engage in pleasurable activities, what has been the preferable pastime? "Being at the ocean is the most fun thing here to do," he replied. "We all love surfing here. It's something we obviously don't get much to do." Now it's a given that Hawaii native and offensive lineman Brandon Rodd is the most accomplished surfer on the team, but which player get the dubious honor of being the worst trying to ride the waves? Catanese says he doesn't have to look further for that answer than his fellow safety and roommate. "Josh Barrett," he said. "He was talking before we got here how good he would be, but he's pretty bad (smile). He's trying to stand up on the board before the waves even come…"

Conquering the waves of the Pacific Ocean may seem easier to accomplish than taming an explosive Hawaii offense on Sunday. This will be the biggest challenge Catanese and the rest of the ASU defensive backs have faced all season. "You have to be realistic about what you can do against them," the safety remarked. "Every week they put up a lot of big numbers against a lot of teams. At the same time, we expect to slow them down and if we can do it we'll be OK with that."

In 2006 Catanese was third on the team in tackles with 58, and overall for his two-year career at ASU he tallied 165 stops. "I'm very happy with how I played at ASU," he reflected. "I got to be with (defensive coordinator) Coach Miller for two years and got to see what the defense has become today. It's been very nice playing here, and I had a great time."

If the good times roll for his next two games in Aloha stadium he stands a good chance to continue playing and have a career in the NFL. A third game for him in this venue, the league's Pro Bowl, would certainly indicate that his brief time at Arizona State was time well spent.

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