It has been a long ride through college for center/guard Dan Wenger, who spent five years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before receiving a waiver to spend his sixth year of college playing football for the Florida Gators.
His sights now set on the NFL, Wenger sat down with me for a pair of interviews before and after he participated in the Battle or Florida showcase in Boca Raton, FL. We discussed his time playing for Florida, his thoughts about the Gators program and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Going into the bowl game there appeared to be two main motivations for the team: finishing the season above .500 and sticking it to Urban Meyer. Some guys were a bit vocal about this to the media but for the most part it was kind of it in the background. Which motivation do you think fueled the team more – avoiding the losing season or showing Meyer that Florida was still the better team?
DAN WENGER: “For me that whole Urban Meyer thing wasn’t an issue. I know guys that were upset about the situation and wanted to kind of prove their point – whether it be that they didn’t want Urban to leave or they had something against him for leaving. Whatever the case may be that was never an issue for me. It was one of those things that’s talked about in the locker room but it was a conversation I didn’t get involved in. I had no experience playing under him. He recruited me but at the same time I didn’t spend five years at Florida before Coach Muschamp came in. That was not even a thought in my head. As far as the whole losing season, I’ve been 6-6 going into a bowl game at Notre Dame – once we went to a bowl game and won and the other time we didn’t go to a bowl game. There’s something about going into a bowl game and winning and coming out at that 7-6 and ending with a winning season. That sparks the fire again and the drive and the energy to be better and work harder going into the offseason. When we were 6-6 at Notre Dame in 2009, we didn’t go to a bowl game. Staying stagnant at 6-6, knowing that we couldn’t do anything else about it was terrible. We felt deflated. It was only the second time I had a full winter break. It was something I wasn’t used to and I didn’t know what to do with myself with that time. I was used to watching film and getting ready to prepare and fight that fight one more time. To me, it’s very important and I think that was mostly my motivation going into that game against Ohio State. To come out on top and more than anything I wanted to do whatever I could to help the other guys be ready and prepare them for the game.”
AS: Well I know it wasn’t a motivation for you, but Meyer taking the Ohio State job before that bowl game had to be on the mind of a lot of the other players. Was it something they just brought up here and there or was it a topic that you heard plenty about and thought was a real motivator for the other players?
DW: “You could say there was all of that going on. It was on everyone’s mind. Guys wanted to see if he was going to be there or on the sideline. It was very evident that it was going on in the locker room, all of that talk. A lot of those guys just had a point to prove. That’s fine. Everyone is motivated by different things. Whatever gets you going and gets you ready to give your best effort in a game, by all means use it. It might not be what motivates me, but hell, if it motivates you then let’s go into this game together both highly motivated and play to the best of our abilities.”
Photo Credit: Associated Press