Potts gets recognition for AIC game
Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer
Redshirt junior Justin Potts of Southern’s football team has been playing at a level he has never seen before.
The defensive back tripled his interception total from last year in one game against American International College as he picked off three passes. That performance led to Potts being named Northeast-10 and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week, accolades he has never won before.
“It really means a lot to me,” said Potts. “Not a lot of players get that award in the conference.”
Potts was clearly the best defender on the field against AIC, but his swagger and enthusiasm helped the rest of the defense rally around him. That was on display during the final interception that Potts recorded as the entire defense mobbed him after he came up with the ball. He and the rest of the defense have made it a point to play as one cohesive unit this year.
“It’s a real different defense, we changed the whole defense,” said Potts. “It’s not just one leader, everyone is a leader. We tell everyone on the defense to try and be a leader. We really all just look up to each other.”
Head football coach, Tom Godek, was proud of the way his defense stepped up against AIC.
Needing a crucial stop late in the fourth quarter, Potts stepped in front of a curl route and picked off a pass that allowed Southern to kill more time off the clock, which eventually led to them winning. Godek was impressed with his cornerback’s aggressiveness.
“Justin thrives on that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Godek. “Those guys have to be able to make plays and he was able to step in front of a few throws they had.”
Potts has slowly improved during his time at Southern, and seems to finally be hitting his stride. One of the reasons why Potts believes his production has gotten so much better this year is because the game has slowed down for him.
The game slowing down for any player obviously comes with experience, but also good coaching. Potts made sure to give Godek credit for what kind of football player he has turned into during his Southern career.
“He’s just a great dude,” said Potts when referring to Godek. “He helped me a lot, and keeps my head on track. He makes sure I’m on top of my academics and is always on me on the field.”
Potts has always been on the field throughout his time at Southern. As “the best ability is availability,” a term that people like to throw out in sports. Potts clearly has that ability as he has never missed a game during his time for the Owls.
With football being such a physical sport it is rare for players to never miss a game for two full seasons. Potts has a routine that he believes helps him stay on the field no matter what.
“Ice baths are the key thing for me,” said Potts. “Every Saturday or even Sunday I go to the training room and make sure my body is right so I’ll be fine for the rest of the week.”
Not missing games is something that Potts shares in common with one of the cornerbacks he looks up to. That cornerback plays with the same over the top competitiveness that Potts does and has missed only two games since 2014.
“My favorite defensive back is Josh Norman,” said Potts. “I like to watch some of his highlights before games.”
The next time to catch Potts in action will be Oct. 8 against Pace University.
Photo Courtesy: SCSU Athletic Communications