Meet Alex Linnenkohl
April 21, 2009
The center isn't usually recognized by fans until something goes wrong, but Alex Linnenkohl knows there is a lot more to being the center than snapping the ball to the quarterback on a specific count. Linnenkohl is in charge of nearly everyone on the field and has to make sure he knows every play so he can instruct his teammates where to stand and where to block if they are in the wrong position. Football is not the only thing Linnenkohl works hard at. Last season he also received Pacific-10 All-Academic honorable mention for his work in the classroom as well.
Tell people about the center position...
The center position is tough because you have to know the defenses and you have to know all of the plays. You have to know who is blocking who for pretty much everyone on the field. You have to know who the tight end has, especially on a pass play; you have to know who everyone is responsible for. That way when they are bringing an overload on a certain side or up the middle, you have to be able to redirect protection; that is all up to you. It is pretty tough to come in and learn. It would be really hard to learn in just a year, or even two years. I am still learning things today after three years, going into four years. It's a tough spot.
You were Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention, how important are academics to you?
I have always been ok to pretty good in school. To me academics are important because they keep you eligible and it gives you a future. I never really had a problem keeping up with the work, studying a little bit here and there and staying on top of things. As long as you don't fall behind, it's not that hard.
Describe what it feels like to run out of the tunnel on game day...
It's fun. We spend about an hour warming up before so we can see the fans start piling in. Then we go back into the locker room and get the speech from Coach Riley. The whole team is in there and you start to get the feeling that it is time to go. Then we run out and it is a great rush. You have fireworks going off and everyone is cheering. I don't try to get up in the front, I try to stay in the middle so I don't get too overexcited because I still have to make calls and play smart. I can't get too emotional.
What should fans expect for this upcoming season?
They should expect a pretty fun ride like they have had the last couple of years. They should expect a better start. We have had some pretty bad starts, but even if we have a bad start, we will be able to keep our mind on the goal like we have done the past three years. We have had 2-3 starts, but then ended up with a couple nine win season.
You were the runner-up for Biggest Eater on the team last season, is that an honor?
It's an honor. We had some big eaters last year, but this year I really have my eye on the number one spot. I think we should have an actual competition because then it would be more of a solid stat. Kevin Frahm has these stories about how he has taken down Tommy's Fourth Street Challenge. I am going to have to find out about that. I can't eat that many pancakes though, that is my weakness because that Challenge has about eight pancakes and two omelets with gravy all over it.
Favorite pro team...
I have always been a Seahawks fan. I grew up in Olympia and I have been to plenty of games. When I was in sixth grade my football team and I sold enough raffle tickets to be able to play against the other top selling team for a fundraiser and we got to play in the Kingdome before the Seahawks game. They got killed by the Lions, but that's not important.
Favorite football movie...
Favorite football movie is 'Any Given Sunday' or 'Remember the Titans.' It is a draw even though they are two totally different movies.
I tried a lot of sports in my life. My first sport was basketball when I was four. Then I started playing t-ball when I was five. I even did a little Tae-Kwan-Doe when I was third grade. I did flag football in second grade and I practiced with the fourth and fifth grade tackle teams when I was in third grade. I played tackle football from fourth grade on. In between there I stopped playing baseball and did track for a few years, and I stopped doing basketball and wrestled through ninth grade. After that I stopped all of those to train for football.
What is it like to play for Coach Riley?
It's great. I can't imagine playing for anyone else. He does such a great job at keeping everyone goal-orientated and together. He is really involved and he is kind of like a father figure for the team; everyone looks up to him and everyone loves him. It couldn't be a better situation.