Nerves no problem for Wolfe

By Steve Brown

Garrett Wolfe was just a 5-foot-7 backup running back before he had a breakout season last year, finishing as the MAC’s No. 1 rusher. Now, he’s gracing the cover of video games and answering media questions week-in, week-out. Still, he keeps calm – with the help of some neo-soul. The NIU back who ran for 148 yards against Michigan Saturday took time out after Wednesday’s practice to chat with the Northern Star about his new nickname, the seemingly-small “Big House” and his growing media attention.

Northern Star: On ABC’s broadcast of the NIU-Michigan game Saturday, they were calling you ‘Wolfman.’ What do you think of that one?

Garrett Wolfe: Wolfman. That’s kind of flattering. I happened to see a taped copy of the game and it’s flattering, the way those guys spoke of me. Wolfman? I’m not a big fan of that but if it gets those guys to talk about me it’s fine with me.

NS: You look like you’ve gained weight in the off-season.

GW: Yeah, I’ve gained about 10 pounds. Actually, at the beginning of camp it was more like 15, but as of now it’s about 10.

NS: When you first stepped into the ‘Big House,’ – the first time you stepped onto the field – what’d you think of the place?

GW: It was Friday afternoon when we first got there, and I imagined it being a lot bigger than it was. The Big House doesn’t go up too much higher than Huskie Stadium, but they pack more people into the seats and it goes all the way around. It’s a very nice stadium. On game day, the atmosphere was a lot different, but Huskie Stadium is just as loud. It was a great environment.

NS: Do you think it really felt like 110,000 people?

GW: It didn’t feel like 110,000 people were there. That’s what they say, but it didn’t feel like it.

NS: I thought Maryland’s stadium felt bigger.

GW: Actually, Maryland’s did seem bigger. It went a lot higher and it was a lot louder. That atmosphere was a lot different, I enjoyed that a lot more. Michigan’s atmosphere was more relaxed; I felt a lot more comfortable.

NS: You mentioned in the press conference after the game that you usually don’t get hit that hard because of your size, but even if you can avoid most of the hard hits, you have to have taken some big hits.

GW: The hardest hit I ever took in my college career was the hit I took at the last snap of the game against Eastern Michigan last year, and it wasn’t even a hit that looked that hard. I got hit in the back of the head. It was a doozy on the bus ride home, but I don’t really take those hits where a guy gets the wind knocked out of him or has an immediate headache or goes blind or anything like that.

NS: More than a year ago, before the Bowling Green game, you didn’t have too many people from the media talking to you. Now, it’s every week and every press conference. Do you ever get tired of answering the same old questions?

GW: The only time I got tired was answering all the questions about Michigan. There was just so much emphasis put on that game it was kind of annoying. That wasn’t our most important game. Our most important thing is to win a MAC championship and beat Toledo. The media coming to talk to me is very flattering though, and it goes to show what I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish [so much] with the help of my teammates. I never get tired of talking to them, they made me who I am.

NS: For your first press conference, after you rushed for 202 yards against Bowling Green last year, were you nervous?

GW: Being nervous is something I’ve never really experienced. Sometimes I may talk too fast because I’m kind of riled up, but being nervous in front of cameras is something I’ve never really experienced because in high school I dealt with the media a lot, being from Chicago.

NS: Do you have any kind of pre-game rituals? Anything you do to get you pumped up for the game?

GW: Contrary to everybody’s belief, I listen to music, but not that type of music that everybody may think. Everybody may think I listen to real loud rap and everything, but I listen to neo-soul music before the games. It kind of calms me and puts me in a different place. It helps me to realize what’s really important are my friends and family.

NS: So you’re more of a guy who calms down before the game instead of getting hyped up.

GW: I’m always calm. You may catch me before the game with a big smile on my face because it’s just playing football, it’s not something that’s going to end my life.

NS: Did you see that NCAA Football 2005 cover with your picture on it? Most of us played video games as kids, what’s it like being on the cover of one?

GW: I don’t even think I can put into words how happy I was – actually, I read it in the Northern Star – I was excited and very flattered.