BarkBoard's former Fresno State player series: Defensive lineman Nikko Motta (Preview)

See what former Fresno State defensive lineman Nikko Motta is up to these days and hear some of his favorite memories of being a Bulldog. Hello Red Wavers! is reaching out to former Fresno State Bulldogs to catch up with their life after football, reflect on their Fresno State experience and hear first-person stories to give you an inside look at some of the Bulldogs' biggest moments and favorite personalities over the years. We are very thankful to former defensive lineman out of Sanger, Nikko Motta, for being our very first guest. The entirety of our interview is available for premium members, but we want to share some of our favorite moments of the interview with you all.

Q: What has life been like after football?

Answer, Nikko Motta: "It’s been different. I missed it right when I finished against USC in 2013. It was a big culture shock for me. I’ve never experienced life without football at all, ever. It’s always been a part of my life since I played in second grade and that’s all I’ve ever known. After that I tried to figure out what I could do to stay around the sport.

"I got the call from (Clovis North Head) Coach (Tim) Simons. I kind of put my name out there to see what I could do with coaching or even volunteering. He set up a meeting ASAP and I got to coach over there for a year. Ever since then I’ve been coaching and working at (Sanger) High School while I’m getting my teaching credential. It’s been an okay process. I miss my teammates more than anything - I just miss everything about it, but I’ve been okay.

Q: What is your favorite Pat Hill story?

A: "...I remember my very first practice Coach Hill came up and was shaking my face mask saying, ‘We don’t flinch! We don’t flinch!’ He was hitting his forehead. I thought, man, this guy is going to break his nose or something I didn’t know what was going on - this old man is raging! He was fired up.

"If this guy can have energy like this at his age and doing what he’s doing, there is no reason I shouldn’t be taking care of business because I’m a young kid I’m healthy and this guy is busting his face with his hand. I thought, ‘What is he doing?’ But I liked that kind of stuff. He was crazy, I was crazy - I bought in. That was one of the most memorable moments."

Q: When did you realize how good the team could be in 2012?

"We always knew what type of guys we had. We had Phillip Thomas who goes out in summer workouts and runs a 4.5 in jeans after class. We had freak type guys. We had Derron Smith. We had dudes, we always knew, but we didn’t understand how good we could be until those coaches came and changed up the defense and we were moving around a lot more...

"Maybe when we played Colorado. I’m thinking, okay a Pac-12 school coming in here. They had guys and they were big, they weren’t a powerhouse by any means, but it was still a Pac-12 school that had respect. We came out just blazing - Robbie is breaking records, Derek is throwing bombs, we’re getting sacks - it was crazy! I thought, we’re legit and we could be something special. That’s when it clicked for me, that we could do some stuff. Not just that it was Pac-12 and Colorado, but it was just how we got after them and I don’t think we ever looked back."

Q: What is your favorite Derek Carr moment?

A: "We can go to the Boise (State) game in 2013. We gave up a touchdown for them to go ahead. Derek looks at me and says, “I got this.” When he said that and looked at me in my eyes - I was coming off the field with my head down, I thought, ‘Damn, I should have known that we’ve got No. 4 and we’re never out of a game with that guy.'

"He looked at me and said, “Neek, I got this.” I said, ‘Shoot I guess we’re going to go win this.' Sure enough, he drove us down there and got the go-ahead touchdown and then we got a stop on defense after that. I have tons of Derek stories, but that one right there, he wasn’t panicked or anything and said, “I got this,” and went out there and won us the game. I’ve got a lot of Derek stories but that is my favorite."

Q: What was your overall experience like at Fresno State?

A: "My time at Fresno State and on the field and everything was absolutely awesome. I shot myself in the foot my redshirt sophomore year when I was ineligible. I lost a whole year and it was nobody’s wrongdoing but myself. I wasn’t taking care of business in the classroom. I thought I was untouchable. I had played as a redshirt freshman. I lost the whole year and that’s the year when Coach Hill got fired.

"A lot of stuff wasn’t to plan and I didn’t like how things were going. I had a serious talk with my family and we had to figure out how to get stuff going. I wanted to make sure my last two years were something special. That was the majority of my playing time, majority of getting out there and having a good time, getting interviewed and playing in front of my family, here in front of these Fresno fans, was awesome. I can never substitute that for anything." premium members can access our full 30-minute audio interview with Motta, along with a transcribed written version, at the link to the left. We look forward to catching up with former Bulldogs from all eras on a regular basis. Next will be an interview with all-time leading rusher, Robbie Rouse. Click below to learn more about joining hundreds as premium members for exclusive Fresno State content. 

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