This year was different though, the Scarlet Knights (7-5) will take on Ball State (7-5) in the International Bowl and Westerman will have many members of
his family and friends in attendance for the game.
"My mom is very excited," Westerman said. "I am excited to have them out there cheering me on and just to show off the great city of Toronto and to show off Rutgers to Canada. It is a chance to show what we are all about and hopefully Rutgers becomes Canada's team."
During his trip to Canada, Westerman was telling anyone he talked to that they
should go out to watch him in action. There is a buzz for the return of Westerman
who played three years of high school football in Canada after moving from Florida.
"I told everybody to come out to the game," Westerman said. "I know what kind of brand of football Rutgers play, it is exciting. If people get to see it they will be very excited by what they see. I just hope everybody comes out to the game and enjoys themselves."
The interest in college football is beginning to grow in Canada and is evident
by the growth in attendance since the inception of the International Bowl. It
is expected that 10,000 more people will attend this International Bowl than
the first one from a couple of years ago.
"Hockey is always going to be Canada's number one sport, but I think people are beginning to get into college football and football in general," Westerman said. "Football is a very great sport that has teamwork, but yet individuals can still stand out.
"It is competitive, fast, strong, power, everything that you would want in a sport. I think people are coming out and getting more interested with the more games they watch and the more they get to understand it."
However, on the field, Westerman was not happy with the overall performance
he had this season. He matched his sack total (eight) and got a half more tackle
per game (13.5) than last year. Through three seasons, he ranks fifth in Rutgers
history with 20 sacks.
"I don't think I played as good or to the potential I should have played," Westerman said. "This season I think I played alright, but I think I could have and can play a lot better."
While getting off to a slow start in the sack department, Westerman really exploded during a three game stretch between the Cincinnati and South Florida game, where he complied five.
The stats back up his teammates assessment that as the season moved along, he became a more active player.
"As the season went on, I think he got more mature," linebacker Brandon Renkart said. "Last year he really didn't sit back because he had (Ramel) Meekins and (Eric) Foster. Then Meekins left, so he stepped up into the leadership role."
Right now though, Westerman and the rest of the Scarlet Knights are focused on getting a victory against Ball St. The Cardinals are a technically sound team that will not beat themselves. The RU defense will have to be on their toes during the International Bowl.
"You have to bring everything you have," Westerman said. "You have to bring you're A-game and bring your fight because you know that they are going to come prepared for you."