Ten Questions Columnist Katie Schubauer caught up with senior Derek (Mo) Saddler to talk about his nicknames, his lucky shirt, his love for Animal Planet and his affinity for trash talking.
1) Mo, you are a senior on the sprint football team. What has sprint football meant to you over the course of your college career?
Well, I started playing sprint last year but I got hurt like two practices in. I broke my foot in a captain’s practice. I was soft. But I stayed on the team and I love it. I would say it definitely keeps you focused. I played sports all throughout high school and pretty much all my life and when I came here I stopped playing sports. Sprint offered me the opportunity to get back into that team environment. And this year, I can’t explain how much it’s meant to me to be back on the team.
Who is your favorite teammate?
I mean, I like everybody on the team, but I guess [junior defensive back] Riley [Scott]. Riley is the one who got me into playing sprint in the first place. I’m always with him. I room with him every time we go on trips and we get along really well.
Can you describe your relationship with Assistant Coach Fred Rothman?
Rothman’s a funny guy. He’s real quiet but all of a sudden he’ll start talking about these weird stories and he’ll go off on these weird tangents. Actually we all gave him the nickname Eeyore because he kind of mopes around all the time and he’ll mutter under his breath if he doesn’t like something, and he just seems like Eeyore. It fits him perfectly. But he’s a real nice guy. I like him a lot.
Can you please describe your contributions to the team last year?
Well last year, I didn’t do anything on the field per se because I was hurt, but I still played a vital role on the team. I’m always joking around and making fun of people. I like to keep the team environment lively. There’s got to be someone to joke around on the team and lighten up the practices.
Why haven’t you gotten any interceptions yet this year?
I haven’t gotten any interceptions yet this year because the other teams aren’t throwing the ball at me because they’re scared. That’s what it is. That’s why Riley got an interception. But Riley can’t talk because the only reason Riley got an interception is because they throw the ball at him because he’s fat and slow. But hey, he looks good.
2) Your real name is Derek, but everyone calls you Mo. Where did that nickname originate?
Umm….I don’t know if I want to tell you. I might lose my credibility (laughing). When I was a baby, my parents put me in a little hood—like a little furry hood and I looked like a little Eskimo so they called me ‘Baby Mo Mo.’ And I didn’t want to be known as ‘Mo Mo’ so it kind of grew into ‘Mo.’
Do you have any other nicknames?
I have a lot of other nicknames. Stromile is one. I don’t want to elaborate too much on that one, but I’ll just say it’s a guy everybody loves but doesn’t want to hang out with sometimes. It originated over Spring Break in Punta Cana if you know what I mean. I’ve had a lot of nicknames throughout my life, but right now in college its pretty much Mo and Stromile.
What about your nickname, Reggie?
This is probably the dumbest nickname. Someone somehow thought Reggie Rocket was the black guy on [the TV show] ‘Rocket Power.’ There were no black people on ‘Rocket Power.’ I don’t need to explain the rest but you can thank [teammate] David Duber for that one.
3) You are from a small town outside of Boston. What was it like being the star quarterback of your high school team?
It was nice. I definitely enjoyed a lot of perks. This one time, I got pulled over for speeding and instead of getting a ticket, they recognized that I was the quarterback for the high school team and it got me out of the ticket. That’s how big of a joke my tiny town was. Everybody knew who I was. My graduating class was only 100 people. But yeah it was good.
Is it true you still keep a highlight tape of your high school plays?
100%. I have it here, actually. I have it here because everybody doesn’t believe me that I actually played football in high school. You have to have proof.
Your dad is a cop in Boston, right?
Apparently, he gets you a lot of free stuff from being a cop. Is that true?
It’s unbelievable. I swear to God my dad is a dirty cop (laughing). I’m just kidding. But like we went to Punta Cana and I got this party pass. It was supposed to be like $250 — I got it for free because my dad knew someone. I have gotten so many free things throughout my life. Let’s say new Jordans come out. My dad gets them before they come out because he somehow has a “connection.” I don’t know what it is, but somehow he always gets stuff for free or gets a discount on it no matter what it is; a car, new sneakers, whatever. He’s probably a dirty cop (laughing). I don’t know.
4) Can you describe your TV habits?
I always get made fun of because of my TV habits. My friend, Adel, came home one time and it was probably like 4 o’clock in the morning. And there I was just casually watching TV like there was nothing weird about it. I watch TV a lot before I go to sleep. I watch weird channels, too. If you don’t know ‘Lizard Lick Towing,’ you don’t know good TV. I love watching Discovery Channel and Animal Planet—I always get made fun of for that, but sometimes you just got to watch a cheetah run around. I don’t think it’s that weird, but a lot of people think my animal shows are weird.
What about the pawn show you like to watch?
Oh, ‘Pawn Stars?’ That’s not even a weird show! I don’t know why people make such a big deal of that. It’s not weird at all. But yeah, I’ve seen a lot of episodes of ‘Pawn Stars’ because it’s always on when I’m going to sleep and I enjoy watching it.
5) Would you say you are a ladies man?
Uhhhh … I wouldn’t say I’m a ladies man. I wouldn’t say I’m not a ladies man either. But, I mean, obviously I’m good with words.
What would the ladies think of your favorite t-shirt?
Well my mom wouldn’t like it probably. But it’s legendary. It’s a bright pink shirt — probably a lot of people have seen it before — with a special phrase on it. I don’t want to say it helps me with the ladies, but it sometimes gets the ball rolling. Other times not so much. There are some funny pictures of me freshmen year wearing it. Random people would just come up and ask to take a picture with me because I was wearing that shirt. I want to thank [my friend] Michael Lieberman for that. He’s the one that gave me the shirt. He couldn’t quite pull it off the way I do.
Can you please talk about your illegitimate son, Andre?
(Laughing) Andre 3000! That’s my boy. It’s Coach Guccia’s grandson who looks exactly like me: same skin color, he has the same shoes as me. The only thing that’s wrong is his teeth are real messed up. So we’re waiting on the blood work to come back to see if he’s actually my child. It’s pretty conceivable that he could actually be my child.
6) Would you say that you are good at trash talking?
Definitely. It’s a talent I have; pushing people’s buttons. On the field, I’m always doing that. That’s another part I’ve had on the team. Whenever someone tries to make fun of me, they’ll soon wish they hadn’t. It’s just something I’m really good at.
Who has more swag: Riley Scott, Ben Greenberg, or “Bug”?
Ben Greenberg has more swag than both those two combined. Riley has zero swag so he contributes nothing. Actually, he has ‘Swag Deficit.’
7) Although you are a big football star, word has it you aspire to be the LSU’s Honey Badger mascot. Is that true?
(Laughing) What? I don’t aspire to be that. I mean, I’m just saying I try to be that on this team. You know because I try to make plays all the time, I like to be active a lot on defense, try to make plays. I try to lighten people up. I’m just trying to be that guy that’s always loud and getting people going. That’s what I would say about that one.
8) What are your thoughts on mentoring teammate Malcolm McKinney?
I am Malcolm’s older brother I would like to say. I like to teach him the ways of football. He’s not there yet, but he’s learning—learning fast. He’s like my little brother even though he was my TA. It’s kind of funny. I need help from him on my homework, but I teach him a lot on the football field. He’s my football boy.
9) Can you please explain the bus crash you were in?
Oh my gosh. This story is crazy. So we we’re all on the bus on the way back from Army or Penn. I think it might have been a Halloween game. It was snowing out and all of a sudden we crash and hit the side [rail]. Everyone else is freaking out yelling. Riley is passed out against the window sleeping. We crash and everyone’s like ‘are you OK?’ Riley wakes up and doesn’t even think there was a crash. He’s wondering why we’re stopped and why we’re not home yet for Halloween. And we have to explain to him that we almost just died while he was sleeping. We almost just flipped over the guardrail and this kid was sleeping the whole time and is mad because we’re not back at Cornell yet for Halloween.
10) Which other Cornell team do you like to hang out with the most?
All of them. All of the girls teams.
I know you practice next to the women’s field hockey team. How does that work out?
I mean, we get a little distracted sometimes. When we’re next to them, I know I’m not paying attention to Coach. There’s a couple of us that are just looking at the field hockey team, not paying attention. Hopefully they’re doing the same thing.