The Friday before a football game is always an important time for me. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on the past, but also a chance to look toward the future. We are about to go on our first road trip under coach Graham, so check back with next week to get my thoughts on traveling with the new staff. However, after being out all of last season, I was really looking forward to the 24 hours before our season opener against NAU. Below is my pregame routine for when we play at Sun Devil Stadium. Enjoy!
The night before the game, as I lay down in the confortable hotel bed, I run plays through my head and go over all the checks to different formations. After I am sure I have everything down, I then imagine myself making game-changing plays such as big hits, interceptions, and causing fumbles. Just thinking about making big plays gets me hyped up and ready to go out and take it to my opponent!
When I wake up on game day, the first person I always text is my mom, as she happens to always be more hyped about the game than I am haha. She always says, “SHOW TIME!” Once I get that text, I know it’s time to go to war and give it all I have to get the win! I then go to breakfast, which is my favorite meal on game day because I like to look around at my teammates and see the fire in their eyes and feed off the energy that they give off. At every meal, position groups sit together with their coaches and have little chats about different plays and corrections that we will be doing in the game.
After breakfast, we all load the bus and go to the game field for a pre-game walk through. At the pre-game walk through we always have an ASU alum come and talk to the team about his experience here at ASU and how much it meant for him to play here. I love listening to the stories the alumni have because they always express such a passion for ASU and the football team - that gets me fired up to play for everyone that played before me and to take this program back to the top where it belongs! The team then heads back to the hotel, where I attend the team chapel to get some good word in before the game and to apologize to the Lord for what we are about to do to the other team! We then have some rest time back in our rooms after chapel before we have a team meal and depart for the stadium.
Three-time All-American linebacker Vernon Maxwell
On the bus ride to the game, it’s a must that I listen to DMX because his songs get me ready to go out and hit somebody so they think twice about coming toward me next play! This is the time for me to get in that zone that makes me feel unstoppable and ready to go beast mode! As we start pulling up to the stadium, I love seeing our fans tailgating outside and showing their support. I truly believe that ASU has some of the best fans in the country and seeing them when we get off the bus for the pep rally and Devil Walk makes me feel like there is no way I’m letting our fans down. I’m going to make sure they get their money’s worth watching the game.
The team then enters the locker room and starts preparing for the game by getting taped and stretched out, among other things. During this time, most of the team likes to listen to music and start getting fired up for the game…but not me. I get fired up by channeling the anger, deep inside of me, that has come from events that have happened in my life. As I start putting on my uniform and get ready to walk out that tunnel, I think about all the bad things that have ever happened to me - all the things that really makes me want to destroy anything in a different color uniform! Then boom!!!!! Fireworks explode AND THE Sun Devils sprint out onto the field!
As a captain, I walk out for the coin toss in the middle of the field and the whole time I’m walking out there, I have a huge smile on my face as I look into the other team captains’ eyes. They give me a look like this dude must be crazy, which is exactly what I want them to think, because when I’m on the game field I am little crazy! I shake the other team’s hands, which is my least favorite thing to do, and then walk back to our sideline. Once I get on that sideline right before kickoff, I think about my best friend that was murdered due to gang violence in high school. I think about all the pain and all the hurt that his loss has caused others and myself till this day. This moment before the game always brings tears to my eyes and lights a fire in my heart to go out there and give 100 percent every snap. I make sure that every player on that team remembers the day that they played against Brandon Magee!
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