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In the Trenches with Ben Mahdavi
Release: 08/10/2002
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Aug. 10, 2002

Recently, we caught up with senior inside linebacker Ben Mahdavi to discuss his offseason workouts, goals for the 2002 season, and more. The team's leading tackler during the 2001 season, Mahdavi has come a long way since arriving at Washington without a scholarship in 1999. Here's what the Mercer Island, Wash., native had to say:

GoHuskies.com: What did you do this summer?
Mahdavi: "Actually, I flew to Texas and worked out for two and a half weeks with [Husky tight end] Kevin Ware. I wanted to let my body feel what it's like to be in the humidity. Down in Texas, that's just about as extreme humidity can get. I realized what my body will be like when I'm playing in that climate, and from that gained knowledge as to how to prepare, how to warm up, and how to be ready for those conditions."

GH: What are your personal goals this year?
Mahdavi: "I want to win the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. To do that, I'm going to have to accomplish every one of the smaller goals on my goal sheet - such as leading the team in tackles, earning All-American honors. I feel like if I accomplish every one of those goals, I'll have done the best I could."

GH: What Husky defensive player do you think will surprise people this season?
Mahdavi: "Defensive lineman Terry Johnson. He's just a creature. I'm really happy to have the guys in front of me that I have. Some people might think that we're going to take a step back on the defensive line, having lost guys like Larry Tripplett and Marcus Roberson to the NFL, but I think that as a whole unit, we'll be stronger there this year than we were in 2001."

GH: Washington is ninth in the preseason AP poll. What kind of stock do you put into such rankings?
Mahdavi: "I think that we're in a pretty good spot right now. It doesn't really matter where you're ranked at the beginning of the season, because a lot is going to change after the first game. Basically, preseason polls are like picking from a hat. That said, I'm comfortable in the position we're in right now."

GH: What's the worst thing about two-a-day practices?
Mahdavi: "Nothing. I love two-a-days. I'm a hard worker; that's my way of life. The camaraderie, the hard work - this is all stuff I love doing. I'm just enjoying it."

GH: What do you think about Washington's depth at linebacker?
Mahdavi: "It's unbelievable. We've got a lot of players on this defense that can play."

GH: What advice do you have for walkons trying to make it at a major program like Washington?
Mahdavi: "Obviously, anyone who is willing to come to a big-time program as a walkon is someone who doesn't doubt themselves. They know that they can succeed here. The challenge is to keep that optimism throughout."

GH: Who is your favorite non-football Husky athlete to watch?
Mahdavi: "Honestly, it would have to be a past guy, [former UW point guard] Bryan Brown. He and I grew up together. We used to call him 'Booty' - everyone in the world called him Bryan 'Booty' Brown."

GH: Do you favor the bowl system or a playoff?
Mahdavi: "I personally think that the bowls are special. That's how college football has been from the get-go. I think that, sure, the BCS makes mistakes, but for the most part, it's doing its job. I mean, Miami was definitely the best team in the nation last year."

GH: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Mahdavi: "It would probably surprise people to find out that I read a lot. I love action novels, authors like Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler. I have so many favorites, I don't think I could name just one."

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