The Ohio Bobcats, under head coach Frank Solich, have had some excellent players in the past few years. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton (the star of an excellent piece by Sports Illustrated's Lars Anderson) and running back Beau Blankenship were as big of stars as a school like Ohio can have.
But both were very vanilla. The few times I spoke to them at practice or at a press conference, both men gave general, generic quotes. That's not to single them out; most athletes, once they've spoken to the media a few teams and get asked the same general questions all the time, shut down and start spewing phrases like "we are going to work hard" and "we will get better" and so on and so forth. The only time I ever say Tettleton crack a smile in an interview was when a coworker and I asked him about the Oklahoma City Thunder's playoff chances.
This brings me to Tarell Basham, a defensive end for the Bobcats. As a freshman last year, he had 7.5 sacks and was a freshman All-American. Heading into his sophomore year, with both Tettleton and Blankenship gone and no one else really standing out from the masses, Basham could very well be Ohio's biggest star this upcoming season. He plays a marquee position and with increased playing team, his sophomore campaign could be his breakout one I haven't ever interviewed Basham, but I plan to. And when I do, I hope to find an athlete that has a little edge to him. I hope to see a guy who embraces how good he is and doesn't play it off so easily.
For a team that lost a lot of its steam and popularity amongst the student population when they lost two years ago on Halloween to the Miami RedHawks, Basham, could provide the needed jolt—the kind of jolt that can convince students to skip the bars and watch a football game in the cold come November.
In general, that's what you want out of athletes. You want them to speak their mind, to talk a little trash and be aware of how good they are. More often than not athletes give the generic coach-speak quotes that don't provide insight into anything. The coaches often do the same thing and the end result is the same boring quotes being used week after week after week.
Part of this is on reporters to ask smart questions that actually make an athlete think about what they are going to say. It's why to date the best interview I've ever had as a student journalist at Ohio University is Stevie Taylor. Taylor, for instance, was the one guy on the 2013-14 Bobcats men's basketball team that could say something at a press conference to get a rise out of then head coach Jim Christian.
For my money, the three most quotable athletes at Ohio are a Taylor, Treg Setty and Daz Patterson. It's fair to note that I've done way more media for basketball as opposed to football, so take that as you will. And because I'm not overly familiar with athletes from other schools, I ask this question to you, the reader: Who are the most quotable athletes at your MAC school? And is it the star player?