From time to time I miss a player. Last year I missed this guy, Alex Hoffman-Ellis. Good size, competitive edge. The Great Rabbino likes this linebacker. He has gone up against some of college football's best and here is what he has to say:
1) How did you get into football?
I guess the abbreviated version of how I got into football is that a lot of my friends from my freshman basketball team at Santa Monica High were playing, and I wanted to play that year, but my parents wouldn't let me. When they finally said it was okay to play my sophomore year, I became academically ineligible, and that lasted through my junior year. When I transferred to Hamilton High, I changed my outlook on how I approached academics and became eligible to play for senior year. Been playing since then.
2) How is Washington State shaping up for next season? What are your expectations for the team?
This coming season, we expect from ourselves nothing less than a bowl game. A bowl game victory really. We've got some solid leadership and some really good developments on the field as well as in the weight room and conditioning-wise. Guys are starting to develop more of a chemistry, as we've been getting together more frequently to sort of build up that camaraderie amongst ourselves. I expect this to carry over on the field in terms of us trusting each and every person on this team to get their individual jobs done so that we can accomplish our goals and get W's as a team.
3) What will your role be?
I expect myself to lead this team if nothing else. I have as much experience as just about anyone on this team, and I feel like I'm a very dependable person for guys to look to in tough situations for guidance. All in all, I'm on that field to be both a vocal and physical presence, so I know what I've got to do, now it's just up to me to do it.
4) What is the highlight of your career?
I would have to say the highlight of my career was getting my first interception ever against SMU in 2009. I took it back 54 yards for a score, and it was also my first touchdown ever so it was a very surreal moment standing in that end zone with the ball in my hands and Martin Stadium going nuts.
5) Who is the best player you played against and what was going through your head when you saw him play?
I'd have to say the best player I played against was my redshirt year in '08 when we played against USC and their linebacking corps of Mauluga, Maiava, Cushing and Matthews. I just remember watching those four play the LB position that game (and that entire season, really) how it was meant to be played, straight downhill with an attitude and a purpose.
6) What is your Jewish life like? Did you grow up with a strong Jewish identity?
I never really felt that much of a connection to Judaism growing up. Having a Bar Mitzvah and playing in the Maccabi Games were the most Jewish things I ever did, but I never have been very spiritual. I attended Sunday school and Hebrew school up until 8th grade, but to me it was more of a place I was being forced to go. Being Jewish was more of something I identified with once I got up to Washington. Everybody up here is so religious and everything is prayer this, Jesus that. The team actually says a prayer in Jesus’ name before and after games, so I feel almost pushed towards my Jewish identity more than as a voluntary thing. Although I am proud of my heritage, I don't have as big of a connection to it as I might like.
7) Did you get a chance to play against Taylor Mays? What was that like?
Yes, I played against him. I don't really remember much of him as an opponent, just that there was a lot of hype around his physical attributes and him falling to the second round in his draft class. Other than that, I don't remember much.
8) What are you goals when you graduate?
When I graduate, I want to keep training and hopefully (knock-on-wood) keep playing ball. Outside of sports, I'm thinking of writing. I write some poetry and short fiction every now and then, though I haven't made a move to get any of my work published. I guess I'm kind of going with the, "I'll just cross that bridge when I get to it" attitude.
9) If you could play for one pro team and/or coach who would it be?
That's a tough question, so I'm just going to go with my favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. Coach McCarthy seems like a very levelheaded, smart coach, Coach Capers has that defense really coming together, and seeing Coach Greene coach up the linebackers just gets me fired up.
Not Packers fans at The Great Rabbino, but big Hoffman-Ellis fans.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine
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