Aug. 11, 2010
Cort Dennison will be the first to tell you the intangibles matter in college football. The Salt Lake City native has worked tirelessly at improving his game, and that determination paid off last year when he started five games at linebacker. He has big shoes to fill this year, taking over for Donald Butler as the "Mike" linebacker, a.k.a. the quarterback of the defense. It's a challenge Dennison looks forward to each day he takes the field at Husky Stadium. Another motivating factor for the Utahan is a return home on Sept. 4, when the Huskies travel to Provo to face BYU.
GoHuskies.com: Has football always been your number one sport and what are some of your best childhood memories?
Cort Dennison: I didn't play football until the 7th grade. I grew up and basketball was my favorite sport, I played year round. But when 7th grade came along I decided to play football and I remember I started to get bigger in the 9th and 10th grade. I just have memories of when I had a couple defensive touchdowns and those are the things that motivated me to keep playing and I thought it was exciting and thought why not I could probably do this in high school. I had some defensive touchdowns in high school too, so the things that got me to keep playing football are those defensive touchdowns.
GH.com: What led you to UW and what sort of things appealed to you?
CD: Education first, I realized that you can't always play football, but you always need an education. It's one of the top 15 universities in the world. So, the education, and I love the city of Seattle. You've got everything, you got a great downtown, great culture, you can go out on the lake any day. So, I'd say the whole atmosphere of the city, the education, and then you get the football program and tradition that the UW has, it's unbeatable.
GH.com: What have you had to do in order to work your way up the depth chart since freshman year?
CD: I've tried to outwork everybody. I'm not going to lie, I'm not the most athletic guy, I'm not the biggest, fastest, strongest guy. But I take pride in outworking everybody. You're god-given those things, but you don't have to have god-given talent to outwork somebody and that's what I've come to realize. Whether it's from the weight room to the film room, I'm going to beat you, I'm going to outwork you and that's about it.
GH.com: How fulfilling has it been to go from a 0 win season to now getting national attention?
CD: It's good, but we have a long ways to go. We haven't really proven anything, we haven't gone to a bowl game for a long time and only won 5 games last year. As far as that goes with me I'm not satisfied with that and I know our team isn't satisfied so we got a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully these next 20-25 days we'll get a lot better as a team and get ready for BYU who is a really good team.
GH.com: What is the difference between the team this year compared to last year's team?
CD: I just think the confidence we have, last year we put in a new playbook on offense and defense and kids were kind of lost. Kids this year have a lot better understanding, they know what's going on and know the mindset of the coaches and their expectation of winning. We all as a team have gotten better at not only football but better in the classroom. We have an expectation to win at everything we do and I think that's carrying a good confidence, it's not a cocky confidence, it's a strong confidence.
GH.com: How hard will it be to move back to middle linebacker?
CD: I don't think it's hard, I think it's actually easier because you can see things easier. As an outside backer you're more out in space, but playing the middle linebacker you're more in the box and can read things easier. I like being able to make all the calls and checks so it's really an opportunity to show what I can do and I'm really excited to do it.
GH.com: What did you focus on in the offseason and how have you improved?
CD: I focused on getting better in every aspect. You're never perfect in everything or too good at something. I looked at everything, I got faster, I got stronger, I studied longer in the film room, and I looked at the tendencies better. I can get better at everything and that's what I will focus on this year, and I still want to keep getting better this season.
GH.com: What are your personal and team goals this season?
CD: My personal goals are just to be the team leader. I want to rank at least in the top 5 in the pac-10 in tackles, I know I can do that and you got to have that mindset or it's never going to happen. I don't really care about my personal goals, all I care about is winning as a team. If we get a 12-0 season and all I get is 20 tackles I'm perfectly fine with that. Our team goal is we expect to win every game we play and we have to have that mindset or were not going to win.
GH.com: How do you feel about going back to Utah for the first game of the season?
CD: It's going to be fun. I got a lot of family and friends going to the game. It's the first time I've gone back for a game so I'm really excited. It's going to be a really loud atmosphere; Provo is a loud place, it's going to be a fun game. I have some friends that play for BYU but were going to have to come ready to play because they are a really good football team.