Such can be said for Fort Morgan high school defensive end Seth Jensen.
Not solemn, though, at least in his mind, but it could appear that way from the outside looking in. "I don't talk to anyone unless I absolutely have to," Seth said of his mindset on the day of a game. "I just kind of keep to myself, because I am trying to focus in on what I have to do."
There's a game plan, of course, as to just what that is. Your opponent has such and such weakness, therefore you have to do such and such things to exploit that, helping your team to win the game. Yeah, that's great, but Jensen takes his strategy within the game a little more simply. Within the Xs and Os, he's got one thing on his mind:
Or in Jensen's case, it's a combination of things: Dominate and obliterate
He's not a happy young man
"I get on that field, I don't care if I have known you for 10 years, I don't like you," he said. "I may help a guy up after a play, but during that play I don't like you and if you are in my way, mercy is for someone else, because I'm not showing any to you."
|Dick Butkus is to this day the ultimate|
example of ferocity on the football field.
A typical football player? Maybe, but from his dad's stories to those he's grown up with, Seth's mental methodology stems from the drive to compete, but the drive to beat your opponent into submission. Stories that tell of a man, who was anything but typical.
You could watch tons of classic films from the NFL. You could hear hours upon hours of interviews with both Butkus and those who played with and against him. All that would probably not even give you even an inkling as to just what kind of impact the former Chicago Bear had on the league and teams in general. If you wanted to truly understand what kind of impact he had, you only had to ask those that had to go against him.
"If I had a choice, I'd sooner go one-on-one with a grizzly bear," former Green Bay Packers running back MacArthur Lane said. "I prayed that I could get up every time Butkus hit me."
One strategy Butkus employed during his reign of terror on the professional league, was about making a statement. Many times it was the fullback that had the unfortunate title of "example" to everyone else on the opponent's side of the ball. On any run up the middle at the beginning of the game, the running back may have had the ball, but it was the fullback that usually got punished. Butkus once said on an "NFL Films" interview that he wanted to make sure the fullback knew what he was going to be experiencing for the rest of the game.
Sometimes the fullback didn't finish the game.
That was the legend of Butkus, one seemingly as strewn with expletives about him, both complimentary and those slightly more vulgar, originating from a game, year or career of frustration.
It's not hard to be inspired by that.
For Jensen, he's got a following of his own or at least one quote in particular that lets you know he is making an impact, both figuratively and literally. "I'm glad that kid is playing for Nebraska next year," Northridge high school head coach Jeff Fulton said of Jensen. "I don't ever want to play against him again."
Fulton was lucky he didn't actually play against Jensen, but such couldn't be said of the team he coached that day, who still managed to win, holding on to a 14-13 victory. There was a number that at the time probably seemed a little more significant.
That's how many players who started the game on their feet, had their game ended on their back, courtesy of clock-cleaning shots by Jensen. You can imagine that while the players themselves have a hard time remembering those events, Seth recalls them vividly.
"The first one was on a reverse, I came back on a guy and I think he was out even before he hit the ground," Jensen said. "The next was against their fullback, who came up the middle and I just drove my helmet into his chest and I think he was down on the field for like ten minutes. Then there was the one against the quarterback, where he just got rid of the ball and I came up and gave him a shot on his chin."
"He didn't get up for awhile either."
Butkus was asked ad nauseam if he was trying to hurt people on the field. Because of his ferocity, it was assumed at times, his only goal was to see as many people as he could leave the field of play………………….with help.
Butkus had replied many times to that accusation, saying that it wasn't true at all.
More or less.
"I'm not so mean, Butkus was once quoted as saying. "I wouldn't ever go out to hurt anybody deliberately - unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something."
In light of this politically correct world we live in, Jensen is far more reserved in his comments about his attitude on the field.
More or less
"It's not like I want them to leave on a stretcher," Seth said. "I'm not trying to end anyone's career."
|Chuck Bednarik was best known for his|
knock out blow of quarterback Frank
Gifford. Jensen seemingly made a living
knocking out players this last season.
Standing 6 foot, 4 inches tall, weighing around 275 pounds, Jensen dwarfs most of the competition he faces in his area. He's bigger than almost all, stronger than most and he's unusually quick for his size. If you think that inspires pity in the future Division 1-A lineman, think again. His advantages just make it that much easier to make the statement he wants to make, no matter who is across the line of scrimmage.
"I'm stilling going to beat on them if they get in my way," Jensen said. "It's frustrating to me when a lot of the guys I face aren't real big or all that, but that doesn't mean I am letting up. I'm not letting up for anyone."
He's ground players' heads into the ground after a tackle. He's stepped on the fingers and backs of players that he felt were getting a little too frisky with the blocks on him below the knees. He's been cordial to players before the game, simply to lull them into thinking he's a nice guy, then he makes sure they realize he's not after the game begins.
Jensen would say he isn't mean per se, but he would say he has a purpose.
"If you can get into their head even before the game begins that just makes it that much easier for you to be a problem for them during the game," he said. "I'll yell at them, stare at them, throw them to the ground – whatever I need to do to make sure they know I'm there."
Seth found that it works to his satisfaction, but also to his dismay. "I never saw one-on-one blocking or anything like that," he said. "It was always two guys at least, sometimes even more. That is frustrating after awhile, but when you can beat them even when they do all that, that's when it feels really good."
He found himself feeling pretty good most of the year, despite the constant attention, totaling almost 90 tackles on the season, 70 of those solo and 18 of those behind the line of scrimmage, seven of which were on the quarterback. Add seven forced fumbles and a few blocked kicks and punts, you have a pretty good year.
Well, up until the end, that is
There wasn't any one person that could stop him during the year, but an injury at the end has him all but incapacitated right now. A clean tear of the meniscus has had Jensen hampered, but only yesterday did he finally have the surgery, so that the rehabilitation process could begin. The timetable has him walking in a week, running in eight, all while exercising his knee with a special machine. For someone so active, that's too much time to just think, but he likes what he thinks about the future.
Unlike most of the positions, the Nebraska defense sports a pretty good compliment of defensive ends. They will go into the season with two returning starters; seniors Adam Carriker and Jay Moore. They will have experienced backing them up as well. At the defensive tackle position, it's a little different there as there will be two first-time starters, no matter who takes the field out of the talented group they have now.
Jensen said that is where defensive line coach John Blake sees him playing in the future days, wreaking havoc on the interior, rather than as a pass-rushing beast from the outside. That suits Seth just fine, because as long as it's on the field, that's all he cares about in the end. "I don't care, put me anywhere," he said. "Wherever I can do the most for the team and when, that's what I am going to do. It's going to take a lot of work just to get on the field, but when I am there, whatever they want done, I'm doing it."
You don't need to be incapacitated to ponder the future, though. You don't need to be asleep to dream. Jensen has done that aplenty since the day he officially made up his mind that he was going to be part of the big red. He's imagined himself in games, thought of what he would do and even thought of players he wanted to….ahem……..introduce himself to.
"I had this dream about playing Texas and Vince Young rolls out and I come up and just lay him out," Seth said. "You think about guys like that, because they are the best and those are the kind of players you have to face if you want to get better."
Point of fact, that is probably the one thing that Jensen feels the worst about regarding his prep career. He didn't have that game-to-game competition many get in states like California, Texas and Florida, where big-time players seemingly grow on trees. If you are a big-time player, don't worry about facing another, because there will be at least one each week.
One of Jensen's dreams is
to make a game-saving play as a "Blackshirt", in
Not for Jensen as he can count the number of physically equal players on one hand, physically bigger on a couple of fingers and when it comes to someone that was simply better, he's still trying to think of one.
That's one of the biggest reasons he's excited about college, because he knows that if he's "lucky", he won't be able to count them, there will be that many. "I always want to face someone better than me," he said. "That guy is going to make me better, try harder and do more to get to the point I can beat them."
"It's kind of funny, but someone might feel bad about getting run over by a Vince Young or someone like that. I don't, because maybe he beats me, but the next time I face someone like him, I come out on top. Maybe I don't even then, but I will tell you I won't give up until I am the one that wins in the end."
So Seth has thought about playing at Nebraska over and over. He's ran games in his mind, facing certain teams, certain players. He's thought about what would happen IF or what would happen when.
After visiting Nebraska numerous times, he's had one thought in his mind, one scenario that to him is a dream he's hoping can come true. It's that one fateful play:
"It's like third down and 10 for Colorado, the crowd is going crazy and I'm out there with the rest of the "Blackshirts" and everyone is screaming at us to make a play," he said. "They snap the ball and I shoot the gap and sack the quarterback for a loss. The crowd just goes crazy."
"That's a dream I have had about my first big play at Nebraska, but I don't care what it is or who it's against, I just want to make the play."
Seth is unlike some players that think what they do in high school will instantly translate to college. You know how it is: They think 125 tackles at the prep level will be 125 tackles in Division 1-A. They bring the same confidence, thus they expect pretty much the same results.
Jensen doesn't, because he knows that for the first time in his life he'll face guys just as big as he is, some much bigger. He knows that he'll face players that are just as quick as he is, some much quicker. They might even be stronger, faster and better, but Jensen doesn't let that bother him, because he knows no matter who he faces, he'll have something that they may be an equal to him with, but they will never be his superior.
"You might be better than me, but you'll never want it more than I do," Jensen said of wanting to win either as an individual or as part of a team. "I won't stop, I won't let up and I will keep coming at you all game long."
Dick Butkus' career ended with him going through as much pain as he probably delivered on opponents throughout his career. Knees ailing him for years, it was almost agony for him when he took the field, and a week of futility trying to recuperate, before he had to go out there and do it again.
The Hall of Famer never gave up on being an influence, though. He never stopped trying to be the ultimate menace on the field. If you were one of the other team's best players, you can bet that no. 51 was still going to be THE guy trying to hunt you down.
That's where Jensen would like to be someday, but mentally he's already there. Because if you are one of the other team's best players, Jensen has you in his sights. Unlike Butkus, though, Jensen might knock you out, but he'll just as quickly help you up. I guess you'd say he ‘s a nice guy in a I'll-take-your-head-off-if-you-get-near-me sort of way.
"Hey, after the game I think I am a really nice guy and I have lots of friends from other teams," he said. "But before the game, I just let them all know what's going to happen."
"It's nothing personal, but if you are a big part of what a team does, I'm going to try and take you out."
"That's not a surprise to anyone. That's just what I do."
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