Sept. 30, 2004
By Bridget Veihmeyer
Some players might find it intimidating to start in the first college football game that they play in. But sophomore John Sullivan, who did not play during his freshman year, just wanted to get out on the field.
“It felt like a long time coming. It was great to play football again against another team. It was exciting,” says the 6-3, 295 lb. center.
Sullivan spent the winter and spring getting in shape and polishing his game mentally. When fall arrived, he felt ready to take on the full responsibility of playing center, undaunted by his age or lack of experience.
“It’s a level of respect. Once you get out on the field, the guys realize that they depend on you and you depend on them. It’s not really about class–everyone’s here to play football.”
Though young players can be susceptible to getting caught up in the moment and losing their composure, Sullivan handles the pressure well. This control is a trait that Sullivan started to develop during his sophomore year of high school. After a run-in with a coach, something clicked in him.
“I started to make sure that I would play to the whistle on every play, every time I stepped on the field,” he says.
“You can be aggressive and in control at the same time; you just have to know how to handle it. That comes from practice, where we work on being aggressive, but also being penalty-free even though there are no officials. You have to be mature about it.”
This maturity has enabled Sullivan to make marked strides in the first four games.
“I have a few parts of my game that are inconsistent at times, but I feel that against Washington, I put together my most consistent game, in terms of pass blocking and run blocking,” he says.
“I know that I can go out there and complete any type of block that you give me, it’s just whether I can do it time after time. That’s where the progress has to come.”
In addition to Sullivan’s personal development, the offensive line as a whole has provided better pass and run protection in recent games. He attributes this improvement to increased confidence in each other.
“After the BYU game where we were a little hesitant, we came out against Michigan knowing we had no choice but to trust the guy next to us. Right now we’re on a roll, and we feel good playing next to each other.”