KU football - Sept. 10 interviews
Since Jeff Spikes, Kansas University's red-shirt freshman offensive lineman, is currently preparing for the biggest challenge of his collegiate career, now would probably not be the best time to bring to his attention the following pieces of information about South Florida defensive end George Selvie, the man he will be charged with blocking come Friday:
1. Selvie was the nation's leader in tackles for loss in 2007 with 31.5 and was second in sacks (14.5).
2. He is part of a USF awards promotion campaign touting him, with seemingly good reason, as the "The Baddest Man In College Football."
3. When Selvie was an infant, a Buick rolled off a car jack and onto his head. The accident, according to the South Florida media guide, left a dent in his noggin' that remains to this day, but did not seem to affect him in any other way.
Despite the aforementioned snippets, however, Kansas coach Mark Mangino does not seem overly concerned with Spikes' ability to stop the freight train that is George Selvie.
"Jeff Spikes will be fine," assured Kansas coach Mark Mangino, who may or may not be aware of the specifics of the Buick incident. "I'm not worried about Jeff at all. He's a competitor. He's a tough kid, he's a talented athlete. And Jeff is not going to back down from anybody."
Which is good if you happen to be a fan of the Kansas football team, because perhaps no matchup Friday will be more important than the one between Selvie and Spikes.
It is no secret that more than a little success quarterback Todd Reesing enjoyed last season can be attributed to the play of all-American left tackle Anthony Collins, who provided ample time - and then a little more - for Reesing to maneuver in the pocket.
With Collins out of the picture, off to what figures to be a successful career as an offensive lineman in the NFL, the task of protecting Reesing's blindside has been placed into the hands of Spikes, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound behemoth from Painesville, Ohio.
And never will that blindside be more in need of protecting than during Friday night's 7 p.m. game at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.
Selvie headlines a defense that currently ranks first in the nation in total defense - the Bulls have given up an average of just 161.5 yards of offense per game in '08 - and enters this week's game having intercepted a pass in 13 of their last 15 games.
On Wednesday, Reesing - ever the consummate teammate - offered a vote of confidence in the youngster, two days before the Jayhawks were scheduled to play in their biggest game of the new season.
"Absolutely," said Reesing, asked whether he "I believe he can do it. I mean, Selvie's a great player, one of the best in the nation, so it's not going to be easy. But I know Jeff is going to go out there and work hard."
Now, though, comes the real test.
Although Selvie hasn't gotten off to a terrific start this season - he has yet to record a sack in two games - there is no denying the fact that he is a player Kansas cannot afford to ignore. He is a player many believe to be the best defensive end in college football, and a player who, as a junior last season, described his childhood trauma to the St. Petersburg Times this way: "I was 1 year old, outside playing. The car was on the jack, and my little cousin got in there. It fell on top of my head. That's about it."
"I've heard things from other teammates," said Spikes of Selvie. "Just the common things that you'll hear. But other than just studying him, and specifically saying 'This is my opponent, and this is what I'm going to go against,' I just study myself and try to do the best I can do in making myself better."