August 29, 2007

Mortensen had to be tough growing up

Some people love college football for the high-scoring offenses, others enjoy it for the trick plays, but for Kansas junior linebacker Joe Mortensen it's all about the big hit.

"You are always looking for it," Mortensen said. "I live for the big hit, it's about putting your pads down low and knocking someone down, that's why I play the game."

Saying Mortensen is tough is an understatement. Mortenson, who grew up with his mom in the inner city of Oakland, said his toughness was developed in the neighborhood that he grew up in and the kids he played against in high school.

"I was a minority where I lived, plus in my high school league, we had some of the greatest teams in the country like De Salle," he said. "So it definitely made me a better player and a tougher person."

Last season was Mortenson's first as a starter on a young defensive unit that allowed too many big plays in the fourth quarter. Mortenson claims the Jayhawks are much better prepared after a tougher and more rigorous off-season.

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