Known for his long hair and game-changing plays on defense last year, senior defensive end Bobby Erskine has gone through quite a change in this past year.
First off, the hair is gone. Secondly, he hasn’t been able to play after he tore his right Achilles earlier this year against San Jose State which caused him to sit out for the rest of the year.
Erskine was set to make a big impact for the Aggies this year after coming off a huge campaign during his junior year where he made All-Great West Conference first team after leading the Aggies in tackles for loss (9.5) and fumble recoveries.
However, the injury hasn’t stopped the captain from making an impact on the team in any way possible. Erskine sat down with Aggie Sports Writer Jason Min to discuss his memories playing for UC Davis, what he’s up to now and what he plans to do in the future.
Starting from the beginning, why did you choose to play football at UC Davis?
It had to do with the traditions of the football team. It was a very successful program, a great school obviously and the coaching staff. I got to know Coach [Bob] Biggs, Coach [Mike] Moroski and just saw what type of guys they were. Overall, it was a very easy decision for me.What are some proud moments you have had individually and as a team?
Individually I’ve had a great experience here at Davis. I was elected two-time captain by my teammates, which was a huge honor and very humbling, as well knowing that I just had to step up for the team.
Team-wise, it’s just being around the quality guys around me and grinding with them every day. More of the behind-the-scenes stuff that others don’t really see is what I appreciate most. We’ve gone through a lot, including some good seasons and some not-so-good seasons, but just the friendships we solidified over the years is something I’m proud of.
Are there any particular games that exemplify “the grind” that you went through with your teammates?
Yeah, the game against Cal Poly two years  ago at their house. Coach Mark Johnson, our defensive coordinator, just delivered a huge motivational speech that kicked our butts a little bit and we responded by coming back from a huge deficit and ended up winning the game.
Another one that stands out is the game against Sacramento State the same year, where there was a huge downpour, the worst conditions I ever played in.
It was so bad we couldn’t walk through the tunnel because it was flooded. The game was just a brawl, no one could really pass the ball so it was a battle of the run game and who could drag it out the best and we were able to come out on top.
How’s your injury and can you update us on how your rehabilitation process is going?
I tore my right Achilles against San Jose State, which is determined to be around a four-to-six month recovery, so I’ll be missing the entire season. The rehab facility and the people involved with it have really helped me along.
It’s kind of been a waiting period to actually be able to start rehab and start moving the tendon, but the surgery went well. It’s always a bummer to miss your senior year due to injury when you know you have so much more to give, but to have other people reach out was a huge thing for me. It just made me realize how good I really do have it.
Is there any positive you can take from this injury?
I’m hoping some aspect of my attitude and just being out there with my teammates will show how much I want to be out there with them, just battling with them.
I just try to be a mentor to the younger guys and try to help as many people as I can. It’s also given me an opportunity to focus on other areas of my life that I couldn’t really pay attention to in seasons prior. I’m graduating soon so I’m just trying to figure that all out and just all the friendships that I have been better able to recognize.
What are your plans after you finish up school in Davis?
I’ve been heavily involved with the UC Davis campus and just being in a bunch of committees, including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Title IX Committee. I’m hoping to get involved in sports administration of some kind and possibly getting my master’s degree, so maybe more school.
My older brother is a Navy Seal, so I’ve thought about going down that road as well. I know a bunch of Navy Seals from my hometown and grew up in [a] Navy family so that might be a path that I want to take as well.Can you talk about being part of the committee to select the next football coach for UC Davis and what qualities you seek in Coach Bigg’s successor?
Being a part of this recruitment committee has really opened my eyes on how important this decision is and what direction athletics will take here. Football is such a huge sport and can spearhead the direction of an athletics program.
It’s been very fun and enlightening meeting some of these coaches. I’m very honored that Mr. Tumey would choose me and see me in that light. It’s a very small group, so it’s pretty much a few people very high in administration and then me, so it’s just a humbling experience. I just hope I can do justice to what they want me to do and provide that player perspective on what I would think is necessary in the next coach.
In terms of what a potential coach should have, I believe our next coach should be a man of integrity, a humble man, but at the same time knowing what it takes to win and not being afraid to challenge the players. Just knowing what Aggie pride is about and playing with that chip on your shoulder are very important qualities that a coach should have.
There are huge shoes to fill when you are talking about Coach Biggs and his staff and what they have done over the past twenty years having numerous successful seasons. It’s not going to be an easy role to fill, but it is a very exciting time for Davis and this hire will be a huge marker for where we want to go with athletics.Can you talk about your experience with Coach Biggs personally from the recruiting process to now just being his last year.
Coach Biggs is a father figure to many guys on the team. When I first started in the recruiting process a lot of coaches would make promises and then go back on their word, but Coach Biggs wasn’t like that at all. He was very upfront and honest from the very beginning.
Two words that come up when I think about him are humility and integrity. He’s maintained that through his entire career here and while being very successful. All you hear about him is true, and he deserves every accolade and compliment he gets. I just hope we can send him out the right way with some wins.JASON MIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.