A new beginning

Senior linebacker Joseph Lobendahn will be the leader of the Husky defense in 2005. As a captain, he is excited about a new beginning in more ways than one.

"We have more experience. I'm really excited about this year because of the returning players on defense. We lose two great ones in Sam (Cunningham) and Derrick (Johnson), but I'm pretty sure we can fill their shoes. I'm really excited to get back onto the field because of the guys we have returning," said Lobendahn of the Husky defense.

"It all starts up front, of course. O-line and D-line. But if we get pressure and stay in our gaps, I'll have a BLAST making plays in this defense."

Lobendahn will be the anchor inside from his linebacker position, as he was before going down with an injury last season

One thing very different about Jo-Lo this year will be the length of his hair. He took a trip to Gene Juarez Salon and had his long mane cropped short. "Coach Willingham doesn't want hair past our shoulders, so we can look nicer," said Lobendahn.

"It was kind of hard," he added.. "I went to where my girlfriend has her hair cut. I was sitting in the chair and everyone was looking at me, asking me, "Do you really want to do this?" I began to have second thoughts after that, and after she cut it, I asked myself, "WHY DID YOU DO THIS???"

When told he looked younger, Lobendahn warmed up to the shorter hairstyle. "It's a new start, and it's time for a new look," he said.

Lobendahn donated the lengthy clippings to "Locks for Love" to make wigs for children fighting cancer.

And now he begins each football day with 6:30 AM meetings. It doesn't bother Joe. "Hey, I'm a morning person, that doesn't bother me. I'm happy about it," he said.

Of his new coach, Lobendahn has effusive praise. "This guy KNOWS HIS STUFF, front to back," he said of Willingham. "He's amazing. He has great knowledge of the game. I go in and talk to him sometimes, and tell him my problems with the team last season, and he gives me advice. I wish I had more than just this year with him, but I'm going to make it worth while.

"I'm pretty sure we can win more than one game this year."

The 5-10 235-pound senior would love to have a big season that could lead to bigger aspirations. "Everyone's dream is to make the NFL," said Lobendahn. "I would love to play at that level, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But it's something to shoot for. I'd love to be there."

Lobendahn has come a long ways from the senior in Hawaii who hated answering the phone during recruiting. "I was shy, but now that I have the knowledge of football and I've been here, I feel much more comfortable speaking about things," he said. "And now I'm a captain, so I have to speak positively, and to say the right things at the right time."

Will new defensive coordinator Kent Baer's new defense a new twist for Joe? Yes, but he's more than ready for it. "It will be great," said Lobendahn. "There is a combination of UW terminology and what he used at Notre Dame, but it's a similar defense to what we were running."

Joe Lobendahn Scout Profile

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