The Taste of Dedication

Working hard throughout the 2007 season on scout team, junior end O'Brien Schofield got his chance to contribute when he was thrust into the starting lineup for the Outback Bowl. Three months later, Schofield wants to be a permanent fixture in that lineup.

MADISON - With all the bumps and bruises on the defensive line, O'Brien Schofield wasn't about to join the list of the walking wounded for long.

After all, he had gotten a taste of what a defensive starter was like last season and he wanted to have that taste again.

With injuries creating a void on the left end, then-sophomore Schofield stepped in against Tennessee and performed admirably, registering a career-high three tackles and forcing a fumble.

Now about to return to practice next week after suffering non-displaced fracture in his right hand on Tuesday, Schofield getting wrapped up in order to take full advantage of his placement with the first-team defense at the left end position, a position he wants to become very comfortable at for two more seasons.

BN: Talking to you after the Outback Bowl, you were obviously disappointed in the loss but you were pretty thrilled that you were able to get on the field and be able to play. Can you talk about what that game meant for you in terms of your progression?

O'Brien Schofield: Well, it meant a lot to me that my coaches and my teammates had enough faith in me to give me a chance to produce for the team and play. Being on the scout team the whole year and not seeing a snap and being able to come in and start in the bowl game, that gave me a little inspiration to know that coming into this year, I would have to work hard to try and get a spot and that I can play at this level.

BN: What's that one of things for you that showed that the hard work that you put into scout team over the year would evidentially pay off in the end?

O'Brien Schofield: I think each week on scout I looked to get better. It didn't look like I would ever get to play that season on defense but I kept the faith and kept working real hard and not given up and I think it paid off for me.

BN: Describe that game, not in the terms of the results, but just being able to be out there?

O'Brien Schofield: The feeling was amazing. I was in awe that when the defense went out there that I was on the field. I kind of had to look around for a second because this is what I came here for. And I wanted to accomplish my goals, which was to do well, not hurt the team but do my best to help the team. To me, it was just an experience that most guys come here and never get a chance to feel, you know, to play. They are always on scout team. I look back at how far I came from and just being a scout team guy, a special teams guy to actually being on the defense.

BN: With Kurt Ware graduating, do you have a pretty good idea that you have a pretty good chance at starting this year?

O'Brien Schofield: Where my mind is at, I would have a chance to compete. Kirk DeCremer is a real good player and I know that I will have to compete with him. Matt Shaughnessy, a three-year starter and all that, he's pretty much sewn up his position (laughing). He's produced so I knew that if anything, I would have a chance to get some serious reps.

BN: Taking that mindset, what does that do for you in terms of motivating you through winter condition and now looking here at spring ball to get you in that position to compete?

O'Brien Schofield: I felt that I had to work that much harder because I know what it felt like to be out there and I wanted to experience that again. I didn't want to have that taken away from me. So I made sure that I really focused on the details in the weight room, in the classroom, make sure when we have film that I really pay attention, learn and try to get better every day and improve.

BN: That having said is the most important spring camp that you have had in terms of making an impression?

O'Brien Schofield: I love the game of football. A lot of people say it's just a game but it's like life to me. There's nothing I would do. My high school coaches kept telling me to do whatever it takes to get what you want. I mean, if that's watching more film, staying after practice to run an extra lap or work on an extra drill, I am willing to do that.

BN: You look at this defense and there's been so many people that have had bumps and bruises, you included now. What have you done to avoid anything major and stayed mostly healthy?

O'Brien Schofield: I guess I have to say is that I eat right. I make sure that if I have any knicks or bruises that I get it looked at right away. I also try to tough it out. I play through most of my pains and nagging pains. You don't want to show weakness if you don't have to.

BN: How much weight have you put on in the weight room? Was there a set goal for yourself as to what you wanted to put on to get ready?

O'Brien Schofield: I really wanted to work on my strength and my speed. I mean, the weight, I believe, will come on its own. I don't want to force any weight on me and be slow because my speed is a great attribute that I contribute to this defense. I make sure that I got faster and much stronger.

BN: How has your new line coach (Charles Partridge) really helped you absorb the position and help you to continue to improve?

O'Brien Schofield: We have a pretty good relationship already. He's teaching me how to be a student of the game and I am actually learning more than just doing something. I am actually understanding what I am doing out there on the field.

BN: When you look at this defense, you have a whole bunch of people that return with a lot of experience. How good can this defense be at the end of August whether you are on the field or not?

O'Brien Schofield: We could have a really good defense if we continue to improve everyday. We have a lot of talent, a lot of speed, a lot of strong guys on our defense but each day we've got to come and play and can't just be wishy washy, we have to be consistent in what we do. I think we have a great chance.

BN: What have you taught Louis (Nzegwu) and Ricky (Garner) behind you? A couple very young guys trying to learn the position that are looking up to you now for leadership when you were kind of the one in that position last year. What have you seen from them and how have you taken that leadership position?

O'Brien Schofield: It was kind of funny because it felt good to teach somebody under me because I was being taught last year. Ricky and Lewis, they both have very great potential and are very athletic and are willing to learn and sometimes I don't ask them, I just tell them what to do either way because sometimes you are scared to ask that question because you don't want nobody to know that you don't know. I think they both have a real good chance to be special players here.

BN: If you don't mind me asking, what are the stories behind your tattoos?

O'Brien Schofield: On my right arm means stay focused. My brother is always telling me to stay focused, even when I was in high school. Stay focused on my goal of what I am trying to achieve in life, which was to go to college and hopefully go to the next level and play in the NFL.

On my left arm came from the Michigan game my freshman year when I redshirted (2005). I was actually on the front cover of the paper celebrating. It was just a real amazing picture and I guy in my dorm drew a picture for me and I was like, ‘Wow.' I want to feel that experience when I am on the field. I want to celebrate out there.

BN: So you have one which is a great memory and the other which reminds you to stay focused. Obviously two very good messages. How important is that when you're out there battling to look down and have those two messages and know what hard work can do?

O'Brien Schofield: Staying focused is like my main thing. I look at it everyday and I say it. There are a lot of things out here that can take your mind off of what you're trying to do – going out and not really focusing on your studies, not really focusing when you are out on the field. You want to become a better person and a better player, you always want it to carry over off the field.

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