Gophers senior defensive tackle Cameron Botticelli always provides reporters with quality material during his weekly appearance at the Tuesday media access.
Botticelli is personable, intelligent and thoughtful. And quick with a one-liner. So we asked the Milwaukee native -- and devoted Packers fan -- to sit down for a Q&A that included some not-so-serious moments:
Q: I heard you want to become a lawyer after your football career?
CB: I have some aspirations for law school. If football doesn’t work out, I’m going to take a year and study for the LSAT and begin applying to law schools.
Q: What kind of law do you envision practicing?
CB: Originally, I wanted to get into criminal defense and the criminal justice system. As I’ve spent more time thinking about it, I’d really love to end up as general counsel for a business somewhere, however far down the line that is.
Q: One of your teammates told me that he hates arguing with you because he can’t win. He said you never lose an argument. Is that true?
CB: Outside of a discussion with a coach, at least in the locker room, I’d say I’m undefeated in disagreements.
Q: Describe the day or moment that you received your scholarship [as a walk-on]:
CB: It was the summer after my redshirt freshman year. We had just finished up spring ball but summer workouts hadn’t started yet. Coach Kill called me up into his office and he said, ‘Cameron, I think you’ve been doing a really good job for us at defensive tackle. You’ve got Coach Claeys endorsement. Just as soon as we can get you on scholarship, you’re going to have a scholarship.’ That summer I was awarded an athletic scholarship.
Q: Did Kill have a meeting with you?
CB: It was a private meeting. It was absolutely one of the most powerful moments that I’ve experienced in my life because, since the age of 16, 17 years old, all I wanted was a Division I scholarship. Some guys got those out of high school. I didn’t. Part of me is pretty grateful that I didn’t because I had to earn it the hard way. There was no cutting and editing a highlight film to make me look better. It was right here. I was 20 feet in front of the coaches doing my work and if I didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t have got it.
Q: What's one thing as a player that you would change about college football?
CB: I would change some of the NCAA’s legislation around graduate student and graduate work. I’ve been fortunate enough to graduate in 3½ years. I’ll have 1½ years to finish up and start a master’s program. I’m in my second semester of a master’s of education with an emphasis on youth development leadership. It’s really tough on grad students who are playing college football because you get a Pell Grant, which is some grant-in-aid. You don’t get that as a graduate student. Really, the only assistance you get is your scholarship check and you use your money diligently. However, for some guys who don’t have the family infrastructure back home, that can be a real struggle. So that’s probably one thing that I would change.
Q: Your favorite college player to watch?
CB: I like watching Marcus Rush from Michigan State. He’s a fun player to watch.
Q: One college player that you’d like to face in the Oklahoma drill?
CB: I’ll do one better. It’s always fun to go back and play the University of Wisconsin, having been from that state, and most of their team, having been on my recruiting trips and visits. And having some sort of relationship with those guys. It’s fun to play against them and compete against those guys. To hell with the Oklahoma drill. We’ll do it in the game.
Q: Best play of your career?
CB: It’s not a real sexy play, but it was Syracuse in 2012. I had forced the quarterback out of the pocket. Ra’Shede Hageman had a strip-sack. The ball squirted out in front of me and there was Syracuse offensive lineman right next to me who was about to jump on the ball. Instead of jumping on the ball, I tackled the Syracuse offensive lineman and trusted that one of the other defenders would jump on that ball. Not an ESPN Top 10. But a smart play that ultimately set up someone behind me to secure the turnover.
Q: Hardest hitter on your team?
CB: I’m going to say that’s a tie between [linebacker] Jonathan Celestin and [linebacker] Jephete Matilus. Those guys will come downhill with little regard for their own bodies.
Q: Favorite place that you’ve played besides TCF?
CB: My favorite place that I’ve played would probably be at the University of Wisconsin, not because I have any fond feelings for the University of Wisconsin. But I actually played my state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium. Our locker room was the away locker room my senior year at Marquette High School. So there is some familiarity there.
Q: What is your pregame routine?
CB: Usually I browse through the pregame program. That’s kind of my time to relax and decompress, reading the program. I usually just listen to some music. Keep to myself in the locker room. I enjoy rap music. Pregame meal, I’ll have a few chicken breasts, some pasta, some broccoli, some berries and some Powerade.
Q: Worst thing that has happened to you at the bottom of a pile?
CB: The worst thing that’s happened to me at the bottom of a pile didn’t happen in any game. It happened in spring ball. And it involved – I won’t go into detail – but it involved our guard Zac Epping, who is a friend of mine and has been the past five years. But it included me getting seven staples in my forehead to stop the bleeding.
Q: Jug, Axe or Pig?
CB: Axe. Not even close.
Q: Heard you love Brett Favre and the Packers?
CB: As a young man and as a boy growing up, some of the best memories that I have of my childhood are around NFL football and the men in my family gathering around watching NFL football. Packers in the ‘90s, Brett Favre. So, yeah, I’m a big Brett Favre fan. Grew up as a child watching him. In middle school I was Brett Favre for Halloween three years in a row.