Lobos passionate about the future

SEATTLE - When Erick Lobos left Venice, Calif. to go away to college, many in his family weren't thrilled with how far he would have to travel. But when they now see the senior defensive tackle, distance is not an issue. Because in many ways, you can't measure where Lobos is going - as well as where he's been - with an odometer.

"Being a momma's boy, everyone thought I was playing so far away, but in the Pac-10 we get to play USC or UCLA at least once back home a year, so they got to see a game," Lobos told Dawgman.com. "They supported me 100 percent. I wanted to stay in the Pac-10, and when I came on my recruiting trip, there was just something about the city, the school...it just felt right for me. My teammate Mesphin (Forrester) ended up coming here and he felt the same way. It was just something that clicked for me, it was perfect. It's the best decision I ever made."

It wasn't an easy one, however. Lobos is the first generation in his family to be born in the United States. His mother and father - Margarita and Jose - both came to America from El Salvador 25 years ago. They went through the hardships to make life better for their three children.

"Coming in illegally, they had so many battles to overcome," Lobos said. Now both Margarita and Jose are naturalized citizens, and even though they wouldn't trade their citizenship for anything else in the world, they never forgot their roots. Erick is bilingual, and only Spanish is spoken in the Lobos home.

"Like my Dad says, if you can speak both languages, you can work twice as much," Lobos said.

True enough, but even having the ability to speak multiple languages would have its drawbacks, as Lobos would find out early in his career at Washington. "Coach Hart would always give me a hard time about it," Lobos said with a laugh. "If I stepped with the wrong foot, he'd go, "step with the right foot. The right foot! El Righto!! He would always ask me, 'how do you say 'the left foot' in Spanish'?" So I go ahead and say everything in Spanish."

"He's famous for his spin move," added fellow DT Wilson Afoa. "He has these motor feet that he always has going, but he's not going anywhere. It's like he's doing the salsa or something. Coach Hart always gets on him for that."

Apparently this also means in the meeting rooms, where Lobos has become infamous for moving his lips faster than his feet.

"Still to this day, if he gets a question from the coaches and he doesn't know the answer or he's made a mistake, he'll talk so fast in that crazy Spanglish, you won't know what he's talking about," defensive tackle Jordan Reffett said.

"He's a character," said Afoa. "You can't forget a guy like Lobos. He'll make your day go faster. He's just a funny guy - especially his motor mouth. It's fun, because not too many can understand him, but I can."

That also applies to Afoa's pidgin talk, which Lobos said he has gotten to know well. "I find myself talking with a little bit of their accent sometimes," Lobos said of the Hawaiian linemen. "They have their little '808' clique going. They also try to teach us the culture and they play their music all the time in the locker room."

Even though Lobos is a defensive tackle, he probably has his strongest ally right across from him at center. He clicked with fellow senior Juan Garcia the minute he met the Yakima, Wash. native for the first time in the fall of 2004. "When we first met here, he was so happy to meet me," Lobos said of Garcia. "He said, 'man, it's so nice to have another Mexican on the team', and I was like, 'Mexican? I'm Salvadorian, man!' But Latino is Latino, and we've always been cool, and we always talk Spanish, especially behind someone's back - we'll throw a little Spanish in there to mix things up.

"I've been to Yakima with him, and when my family comes up here he'll come to have some food. We're like cousins now. There are so many similarities."

Their fast friendship has helped Lobos through long road trips and brutal practice sessions - but it hasn't helped either one of them get their fair turn DJ'ing the music in the locker room. They'd like to mix things up with stuff like salsa, cumbia and reggaeton. "It's like a Puerto Rican-style of reggae," Lobos said when asked about reggaeton, a style made famous by artists like Shabba Ranks and Daddy Yankee. "It has similar beats, but it's all in Spanish and it's high tempo. It's good stuff and we love it.

"But there's just the two of us, so we get overruled. Some of the other guys (on the team) from LA, they like it - but usually it's just me and JG."

But on the road, the Lobos' do what they can to make sure he's always around family. "They travel to games as much as possible," he said. "They went to Oklahoma and they are coming out to Syracuse. They've been making the rounds. And I have my cousin and his family that come up for games too. Everyone supports us. They are all really into the Huskies now."

And Erick wants to do everything he can to make his final season his best ever. So far he's played in 27 games his first three years on campus, racking up 22 tackles. "I'm really excited about this year," he said. "It's my last go-around. Being here for so long, I have a little bit of everything. So you can just put me in and I'll come up with a play, make a tackle. I can play nose, I can play tackle. I just try and make plays."

When Lobos graduates this coming spring - with a degree in sociology - he plans on staying in Seattle and finding a job. Before he does that, though - Lobos has some other work to tend to. He will be going to South Africa as part of Anthony and Tonya Kelley's group through the University's CHID (Comparative History of Ideas) program this winter. Anthony is a former Husky linebacker that now runs a non-profit organization with his wife to help kids in South Africa.

"I've met a lot of great people out here, and hopefully they can help me find work," Lobos said. "I don't think it'll be a problem. I've been tutoring kids. Mentoring is what I'd like to do."

He's already off to a buen comienzo.


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