At least when he’s the one playing it, anyway.
“Since I was young, it’s so boring to me to watch someone else do what you do,” said Montgomery. “It’s so boring to me looking at football. Looking at a sport, sometimes I’ll fall asleep. My mom would watch it all the time, but I really couldn’t get into it.”
“Sonic Sam,” whose nickname stems from a feisty cartoon character named Sonic the Hedgehog, doesn’t like to take his football with him into everyday life. He doesn’t want to get caught up in the hype of what he does between the lines on Saturdays. So he has a special hobby that keeps him humble.
“I just got into the whole Cartoon Network thing, and that’s just been a big thing for me. School would get out at 3, had to run home to watch Toonami at 4 o’clock.”
Montgomery understands the trappings the limelight of being an All-American can bring. It is why he is so insistent on turning off ESPN as much as he can. And it is why he is so quick to compliment his teammate and fellow defensive end, Barkevious Mingo.
“(Mingo) came in a speed guy, and now he’s working on his power. He’s trying to show his diversity, trying to show that he’s not a one-sided guy. He’s going to try to be the most diverse. He’s going to show people that he has the heart to play the run as well as the pass.”
Montgomery says Mingo shares in his desire to get away from thoughts of football when they’re off the field.
“We humble each other every day,” said Montgomery. “We don’t really worry about the football aspect. We worry about life and having fun and smiling and the simple things, the things you can enjoy without having to worry about the pressures of life. Doing that with each other helps keep our minds off of what’s going on around the world and what everybody else thinks. All we know is we’re just two guys who love football from two small towns, trying to make our dreams come true.”
What “everybody else thinks” is that these two stars are headed for greatness this year and beyond. Both have been selected preseason All-America, and NFL Draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both have them being selected high in the first round of the 2013 Draft.
Don’t let the cartoon watching fool you. When it’s time to strap on the pads, it’s go time for Montgomery, especially when he’s competing with his very own teammate, Mingo.
“There’s always a sack competition. There’s always a tackle for loss competition. There’s always who’s going to get the first sack competition. We do those things to keep ourselves ready to go, to keep us striving for greatness, to reach our highest peak.”
Mingo joked last season about Montgomery’s penchant for beating on his own teammates after they make big plays. Mingo said he’d tackle an opponent for a loss and immediately get up to run away because he knew his fiery teammate was on his way to pound on him.
Montgomery doesn’t see that changing this year.
“Hopefully I won’t get a flag. You can’t get a flag for hurting your teammate can you? Might get a flag on me for smacking Mingo on the back of the head.”
It is obvious that the joking off the field carries over in a competitive way onto the field. It is a genuine relationship that Montgomery takes pride in and works to cultivate as both a person and a player.
“We met each other at Michigan on our recruiting visit. As we got older our relationship grew, and as we played on the field our relationship grew. We have one of the strongest bonds in the d-line room. It’s just because me and Mingo understand each other completely which makes us the perfect duo out there on the field.”
Clearly this is a young man who knows how to humble himself in the limelight. Clearly this is a player willing to share that limelight with a teammate.
And clearly this is more than just a guy who loves football.