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Football Q&A: Spencer Larsen

Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Cardinal quarterback Trent Edwards is hit by Wildcats Akin Akinniyi (38) and Spencer Larsen during Stanford’s win on Oct. 15. Larsen had a career-high 17 tackles in Saturday’s win over OSU.
By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 3, 2005
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Linebacker talks about successes after long layoff

If you notice someone with the Arizona football team showing more exuberance than usual during Saturday’s game with undefeated No. 7 UCLA, chances are it is sophomore linebacker Spencer Larsen.

And who can blame No. 51 if he seems a bit giddy to be in action for Wildcats head coach Mike Stoops? He’s waited three years for it.

Larsen played his first full game in an Arizona uniform Oct. 15 against Stanford after leaving Tucson for a Mormon mission in Chile in 2003.

Upon his return to the team in March, Larsen suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during spring workouts and was sidelined for more than six months.

He has since bounced back, despite suffering a hamstring pull in September, to average 10.3 tackles in Arizona’s last three games, including a personal-best 17 Saturday in Arizona’s 29-27 win at Oregon State.

Larsen spoke with the Arizona Daily Wildcat yesterday about returning to the football field, using his missionary work on the field and finishing the season strong.

Wildcat: How is the adjustment after three years away from the game?

Larsen: It’s been a long road. There was the two years in Chile, (then) one more waiting around to get going with my knee. The game’s the same. If you play hard, things work out for you, and that’s basically what’s happened. As soon as you learn the system, you’ve just got to play as hard as you can.

Wildcat: How did you stay in shape in Chile?

Larsen: I didn’t stay in great shape. I could have done better. I didn’t lose much weight. I did a lot of push-ups, a lot of stuff with my legs, ran a little bit, but I didn’t do much. Most of it was on (strength) coach (Corey) Edmonds to get me ready.

Wildcat: Which is tougher to you, missionary work thousands of miles from home or a practice with Stoops?

Larsen: “It’s different. In Chile, it’s more mentally demanding. You’re walking around all day, getting rejected all day. Here, it’s more physical. You’re getting pounded on every day. So, it’s a toss-up. The rewards are the same.”

Wildcat: Is there anything you took away from your mission that you try to apply on the football field?

Larsen: “There’s a lot. Determination, never giving up, because out there you get 500 doors slammed in your face, but you know there’s always one waiting for you to listen. That’s how it is here. You’ve got to keep plugging away even when it’s going tough. You’ve got to keep getting up and going after it.”

Wildcat: Stoops has talked about this team needing to “learn to win” through the close losses. Do you see OSU as the team to use to get over the hump?

Larsen: Yeah, but we can’t look at it as, “We got one done, so now we can relax.” The (Pacific 10 Conference) is loaded. We’ve got to keep playing. OSU was a great win, but now we’ve got UCLA, a new challenge and a great football team. We just have to go after them the best we can.

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