Q-and-A with Sutton Smith


Q-and-A with Sutton Smith

By Ryan Ostry

Sutton Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive end, has had a breakout 2017 season for the Huskie defense, and there are no signs of him slowing down.

Smith has recorded eight and a half sacks through six games, which leads Division 1 NCAA football.

He also leads the country in total tackles for loss with 16.

The six feet and one inch St. Charles, Missouri product came out of high school being recruited as a running back, however, has seemed to find his niche on the defensive side of the football.

Smith discussed his breakout season so far and his team’s recent success, especially on defense.

Q: The team is 4-2 and off to a good start. Now that the first half of the season is done what are some goals for the second half?

A: We just want to keep going and keep winning each game because obviously the end goal is to win the MAC championship, and that’s what we really want to get to.

Q: What are some things your defense is doing as a unit to be so successful and a defense most teams do not want to face?

A: Flying to the football. Everybody is getting to the ball really quick and everybody knows their job.

Q: You lead the country in sacks and tackles for loss. Was this something you knew you had in you; what has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

A: I just want to go out and get a rhythm for the game. I didn’t know this exactly would happen, but I knew I would do something like this.

Q: After the Kent State game you were named MAC West player of the week. There’s a lot of good defensive players in the conference, so how good did that feel and was it one of your goals coming into the season?

A: It was a pretty good feeling. I just try and go out there and do the best I can, and whatever happens, happens. I don’t take too much individual credit for what I’ve done because the guys on the inside have made my job a lot easier.

Q: Who else are you most surprised with the way that they are playing on the defensive side of the ball this year?

A: [Sophomore defensive tackle] Ben Leroy. I have been really happy with [our play], along with [the play of] Jack Heflin, redshirt freshman defensive end. [Both players are young] and doing great in the roles they’re playing in right now, which has been a huge contributor to our team’s success this year.

Q: Coming out of high school, you got recruited as a running back. What changed, and do you miss those days at all?

A: When I got [to NIU], I thought I would do [good] at running back. I just wanted to try it out, but I kind of screwed myself in some ways because I fumbled the ball one time and tackled a free safety who picked it up, and it just led to me being on defense after that.

Q: Are there any takeaways you use to your advantage from once being a running back, and now seeing the other side of the spectrum being a defensive end?

A: My footwork. The offensive tackles are constantly looking at how you’re moving and if you have really good feet and can be shifty, you can get them turned around. [Also] if you’re quick off the ball and you go one way and they go another, you can do some really good things.

Q: You are considered a smaller defensive end. What else besides your speed is your greatest strength, would you say, to get to the quarterback?

A: My strength [is a big factor]. My size [also] might be a little shorter than the usual, but I’m not the weakest guy on the field, that’s for sure. My speed and strength play into a big part on how I can get around tackles and how they can’t just push me out if I’m speed-rushing the [opposing]quarterback on defense..

Q: What are some things you guys are focusing on this week going to Bowling Green who might not have a great record, but it’s always a fight with this team?

A: We have to play this team just as fast as any other team we’re going to play, and we can’t overlook a team just because of their record. [Bowling Green] is still a tough football team, not taking anything away from them [so] hopefully in the end we will come out with the victory.

Q: What else should we expect the rest of the season from Sutton Smith?

A: A guy that’s going to keep playing fast and keeps getting to the ball. That’s my job.

NIU will face the Bowling Green State University Falcons 1 p.m. Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.