‘OB’ brings much-needed energy

first_imgKRIS UGARRIZA/Herald photoAlthough the Badgers’ football season has been disappointing, a bright spot has emerged on the defensive side of the ball: the enthusiastic play of junior defensive end O’Brien Schofield. Anyone who was closely watching Saturday afternoon’s game against the visiting Fighting Illini could see the energy and excitement fueled by Schofield every time he sniffed the ball, things he — and the team — had been missing during their four-game losing stretch. But with five tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a key batted pass, there were certainly reasons for Schofield to celebrate Saturday.“I just felt free out there,” Schofield said of his performance. “We have been kind of dead as a team, and I just wanted to make sure I could provide a spark on defense and just keep the energy going on both sides of the ball. When we play with emotion, we are fantastic out there.”Playing with emotion has always been a huge part of Schofield’s game. He has tried to use his personality to become a catalyst on the defensive side of the ball since he first began his career in high school.“Ever since high school, a lot of my teammates were teasing me about it because I keep referring to it in the locker room,” Schofield continued. “That’s just who I am. I go out there to have fun and to play each play like it’s my last.”Despite what appears to be an emerging role as an emotional force for the defense, Schofield still respects the wisdom of the senior players and is hesitant to call himself a true team leader.“I would say that I am an emotional leader,” Schofield said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a big leader because those guys have a lot of playing time under their belts, guys like Jason Chapman and Matt Shaughnessy. But, just emotionally, I could say that I am a leader.”Schofield believes his preparation leading up to the matchup with Illinois allowed him to focus on enjoying all aspects of his game and to simply have fun on the field. He hopes to bring out the same enthusiasm against running back Javon Ringer and Michigan State this Saturday.“I think the focus on fundamentals and our technique at practice really let me play fast, and I didn’t really have to think that much, and I’m going to try to do the same thing to prepare for this week,” Schofield said.Although he was ranked among the top 25 defensive ends coming out of high school, the redshirt junior spent his first three seasons as a Badger playing mostly on special teams. He finally saw his first career defensive start last season in the Capital One Bowl against Tennessee. Although the Badgers lost, Schofield stood out as he recorded three tackles and a key forced fumble. Despite earning a starting spot this season, he has not forgotten the time he spent working to achieve his goals.“My journey to get to where I’m at (keeps me grounded),” Schofield said. “I am a firm believer in God, and I just believe that I play for him. I can’t let it get to my head. I was on the scout team for three years and the coaches kept putting me in positions to be successful. My chance finally came last year in the bowl game, and I capitalized on it.“When I’m out there, I don’t have a care. I’m just enjoying it.”last_img

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