Coming off the 2008 season where he had 68 tackles - 23 solo - and was a Second-Team All-WAC selection, senior defensive end Justin Cole knows the San Jose State defense has some significant shoes to fill as two of his First-Team All-WAC mates are no longer lining up with him. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Cole took a moment after Sunday's San Jose State football Spring Practice to share some of his thoughts with Inside Sparta on what role he'll have on this years team, and how he's progressed since coming to SJSU.
Mike Morgan - Inside Sparta: How does the defense compare at this point to last year?
Justin Cole: "We lost a lot of Corvettes last year, so we have some guys that gotta step up and make some plays for us. But, I think a lot of the guys have been waiting for their opportunity, so their excited. I think we have some guys that can really step up and just fill those roles and make a lot of plays for us, just as the guys that left. We can’t replace any of the guys that left, but we’ve got some guys that can do their own thing and make their own plays in their own way."
MM: How has your role changed from what it was last season?
JC: "It hasn’t really changed. I’ve just gotten more comfortable in the defense. I’m still playing linebacker and some defensive end in certain situations, which is what I did last year. So, I think it’s just us playing together as a new defense. We have some guys returning and we also have some new guys, so we’re just trying to build a cohesive unit and be as good as we were last year, or better."
MM: Who are the defensive leaders/captains?
JC: "You can’t really point out guys. I think leaders just kind of emerge, in the heat of competition and the workouts that we do when no one is looking. So, that’s when the leaders will emerge. I think the leaders will emerge and the guys will rally around those guys. So, whoever emerges, we’ll rally around them, whether it’s a senior or (an underclassman)."
MM: What are your goals for the year both personal and team?
JC: "My goal, No. 1, is for the team. If I have one tackle but we go to a bowl game or win the WAC I’ll be happy. So, I just want to win. However we get it done. Whoever is out there. Either way. If it’s myself or if it’s someone else, I’m going to give my heart and soul to the team, and I think team is going to do that for each and every player that steps out there. I think our goal is just to win. Be cohesive, play hard, and come out with victories."
MM: With your senior season now before you, how has your experience as a student/athlete at San Jose State been?
JC: "It’s been great. I’ve seen this program grow leaps and bounds since I first started here. My first redshirt year here we were like three and eight, and it was kind of embarrassing. We didn’t take a lot of pride in being on the football team. But that’s all changed."
Mike Morgan is Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org