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Auston English Q&A
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Sooner defensive end talks about past, present and future
Injuries have been a major source of frustration for Auston English over the past two football seasons, robbing him of precious playing time and forcing him at times to perform at less than 100 percent. Never was that more evident than in 2008, a season in which the 6-foot-3, 253-pound defensive end entered as the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
After being initially slowed by the leftover effects of a fractured ankle from the 2007 season, English suffered a major setback when he underwent an emergency appendectomy near the end of two-a-days in August. He returned in time to start the first nine games of the season, but struggled to recapture the form that made him a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore.
English was just beginning to make some strides ó recording four tackles and recovering a fumble against Nebraska ó when he suffered a knee injury that shut him down for the next three games. He eventually had knee surgery after the season and has been busy working his way back since.
As the 2009 season approaches, English is anxious to get back into the defensive rotation on a full-time, injury-free basis. Sooner Spectator caught up with English recently to talk about his comeback and hopes for the future.
Sooner Spectator: Can you talk about the 2008 season and the way it all unfolded for you with the injuries and setbacks and expectations?
Auston English: Reflecting back on it, I obviously wish I could have played a bigger role and been more of a contributor to the team. I didnít feel like I played at the high level I am used to playing at and that my teammates are used to seeing me play at. It was a bit of a disappointing season for me overall. The team enjoyed a lot of success, but I didnít feel like I was able to help them out like I really wanted to. Being dinged up here and there, and just not feeling like yourself, not being able to play at the level you know you can play at ó itís pretty disappointing. But in the end, itís not something I want to dwell on. I have to look forward to what Iíve got left front of me when I get healthy again.
SS: Is it frustrating not to have the opportunity to go through spring drills with your teammates?
English: It really is. I missed last spring and I was looking forward to getting a full spring in and it just hasnít worked out. The spring season is a good time for building confidence with your teammates and all the camaraderie that goes with it. Itís definitely disappointing to miss out on all that stuff.
SS: Your dad has been big into weight training and thatís been part of your history growing up. Is there anything you can do in that area to help prevent future injuries or is that just the luck of the draw?
English: Really, you just try to work and prepare the best you can. But injuries are just part of the game. When it comes right down to it, things happen in football, itís a violent sport. Iíve missed some playing time and obviously you donít want to have any injuries, but fortunately, none of my injuries have been too serious. Itís just something Iíve had to deal with and ultimately I feel it will make me a strong person in the long run.
SS: What do you love about football? What is it that drives you and makes you want to come back and be the player you want to be?
English: More than anything, I really enjoy being out there with my teammates, being part of a team with a common cause. Itís hard to explain, but I love those connections you have with your teammates, the relationships you form with each other and your coaches.
SS: You turned 22 recently. Did you wish for anything in particular for your birthday?
English: You what they say ó if you tell what you wished for, it wonít come true. So Iíd better keep it to myself.
SS: Can you believe your senior year is right around the corner?
English: Itís pretty crazy. Every once in a while, you reflect on when you got here and what youíve been through. I came in with a great bunch of guys in a class that included Curtis (Lofton), Malcolm (Kelly), Reggie (Smith) ó and all of those guys left what will be two years ago. There are only about five or six guys left here from my recruiting class. Itís gone by so fast. Iíll graduate in May. I was getting my announcements recently, along with my cap and gown, and it all seemed pretty surreal.
SS: You will be in graduate school this coming fall. But what is a planned program major?
English: Itís pretty much a deal where you pick from two disciplines that you can mix and match, like anthropology and psychology. Ultimately, itís a bachelor of arts. Iím going to try to get into the (Human Relations) program this fall.
(Editor's Note: This is a portion of an interview that appears in the April-May 2009 issue of Sooner Spectator. To read the full interview, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 and subscribe!)