Brandon Polk Speaks On 2016, Positive Outlook Ahead Of Big Ten Opener
“I tell all the running backs, if you get in the open field, I’m coming to get you.”
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brandon Polk is having fun out on the football field this year. An experienced veteran, Polk plays the game with as much passion and pride as anyone else on the team — primarily because his 2016 season was cut short after three games due to injury. If there’s anybody happier to be back on the field, I implore you to find him.
“I’m enjoying every second of it,” Polk said. “I mean, it was taken away from me, and I really missed it. Every time I’m out there, I’m playing like it’s my last play.”
Polk is having fun when he’s catching the ball; he’s having fun stalk blocking cornerbacks. But what Polk enjoys more than anything is having fun with his teammates — especially when they achieve success.
In watching Saquon Barkley’s highlight-reel touchdown scamper on Saturday, Polk’s exuberance was put on display. As Barkley blazed down the middle of the field, Polk was mere yards behind him, pointing in celebration.
It’s almost like Polk knew it was coming.
“I told [Barkley] before the game — it’s kind of funny — but I was like ‘I feel like this game, you’re gonna either catch or have some big run, and I’m gonna come get you,'” Polk said. “That’s why he kind of pointed at me, and we pointed at each other. I was like, ‘I told you.'”
But pointing wasn’t all Polk did on Saturday. His only catch (a 15 yard strike to the back of the endzone) went for a touchdown — his first since October 10, 2015. It was meaningful for a host of reasons; Polk began his college career as a speed-oriented player, but now he resembles a more complete receiver — one who can gain yardage after the catch, block, and get behind the secondary. “I’m probably about 10 lbs bigger [than when he started], but I feel stronger than when I came in here,” Polk said. “I feel like I can do a lot more — blocking, running routes, just anything.”
It’s been a long road back for the Ashburn, Va. native. A high school teammate of quarterback Trace McSorley’s, work ethic was instilled in him from an early age. But working back from injury proved to be difficult — but not too difficult to overcome.
“Last year, with football being taken from me, it was just a wake up call like ‘oh, when you get out there, you need to do everything to the best of your ability,'” Polk said. “I can say last year, sometimes, I would be down, and I’d let it affect me. So for me, I like our core values, so having a positive attitude really helped get me through that.”
Polk aspires to go to law school after his playing days are over. It’s a fitting career choice, seeing as both of his parents went the same route and sought law as their profession. But until then, it’s going to be fun watching Polk dish out some justice of his own on the football field. Expect the rebranded receiver to play a significant role as Big Ten play opens up this weekend in Iowa City.