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August 16, 2009

Southward's athleticism translating to field

MADISON, Wis. - Dezmen Southward is entering only his second year of organized football ever. So the fact he is a freshman on the Wisconsin roster speaks volumes about his athletic ability.

Sunday afternoon, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the Florida native. The following is a question and answer with Southward.

First of all, what's the story with your hand?

Southward: I broke my hand my freshman year playing basketball. I've never let it heal. My first year playing football, it happened again and I didn't have enough money for surgery so once I got a scholarship, they took care of it.

So how long is the recovery period and how long do you have to wear the cast?

Southward: I've been in the cast for about seven weeks now. I probably have one more week left and I'll be out. So hopefully it will let me go out.

That must be something to look forward to. It must be a pain in the neck to have that on.

Southward: Yeah, it's a little big. I can't really participate in everything I'd like to. I mean it's a good thing that I got it done this summer and not at the beginning of fall camp. So I'm happy about that.

You are a basketball guy. You've only played football for one year?

Southward: Yeah, the first thing I can remember is basketball. Everyone always begged me to play in high school. I was always like, no, football players are crazy. They're just getting their heads beat in. But, I wasn't getting recruited like I like for basketball so I just tried it (football) out. It turned out okay and I'm just happy to be here.

How has the transition gone for you playing your senior year of high school to where you are right now?

Southward: It wasn't a huge transition for me because I was like a real physical player for basketball. So, the physical part was pretty natural. But more so, technique, I'm trying to learn from the older guys, the Aaron Henry's and Niles Brinkley's. So, I'm just trying to play a lot of catch up.

Is it kind of nice to have a former high school teammate up here too?

Southward: Oh yeah, Conor O'Neill is great. It's nice to have someone that's coming from where you're from, especially from the same high school. So you can kind of relate to them and talk about the old days or whatever and kind of adjust with someone else. So that's cool.

Are you rooming with him?

Southward: No, actually, I'm rooming with Jerry Ponio and he's (O'Neill) rooming with A.J. Fenton, another linebacker out of Pennsylvania.

Just talk about your basketball experience. What can you take from that and bring to the football field?

Southward: I definitely like work ethic. Probably the most important thing is athleticism. That's what all these colleges saw in me is that athleticism. I had to turn that athleticism into a great player by using technique and learning the game of football.

They're projecting you at cornerback? They recruited me at safety and I played there last year. But when I got here, I guess they liked me athletic wise and they have me starting out at corner. So that's where I'm at now.

Are you enjoying that? Do you like one or the other better?

Southward: It doesn't really matter. I haven't been playing long enough to be picky so I'm just taking it as it comes and try to learn as much as I can.

This team, you wouldn't suspect it, but there's a ton of Florida guys on this team.

Southward: We're looking around and most of the skill positions come from Florida and Texas. So, that's not bad. We have a little rivalry on the team going. Florida talks a bunch of trash to Texas and vice versa. It's all fun and that's nice.

Who's better, the Florida guys or Texas guys?

Southward: Oh definitely Florida. There's no question about that.

Who's your guy in the NBA?

Southward: I'd have to go with LeBron (James). Everybody is going to say Kobe (Bryant), but I'm not a huge Kobe fan. He's a beast, but I'm gonna go with LeBron.

Who is your team?

Southward: I was originally born in Indiana so I'm gonna have to go with the Pacers.

Oh, okay, back in the Reggie Miller days?

Southward: Yeah, back in the Reggie Miller days. We're struggling right now, but we'll pick it back up.


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