Of all the savage LSU football Tigers, junior defensive end Sam Montgomery is arguably the most intimidating.
Montgomery catalyzes a vicious cycle: the superhero strength generated by his shredded frame terrorizes offensive tackles, who are then demoralized by incessant taunting and screaming sack celebrations. Rush, sack, repeat.
Much like with his beloved microwaved pork chops, Montgomery’s hunger for quarterbacks is insatiable. You’re well-warned not to walk behind Montgomery on campus this week, as just the thought of Florida’s generous offensive line has a saliva slick trailing him, one that could send you careening Mario Kart-style to the concrete pavement.
Because he’s known for that on-field ferocity, you’d be surprised if you pulled up beside him.
“I talk to more random people and they’re just so shocked at how humble I am and how much I take the time to get to know them,” Montgomery said. “I tell them all simply, ‘What you guys don’t understand is, if you take away this football, I’m no different than you.’”
On Tuesday, fellow Reveille Sports Writer Chandler Rome quoted LSU swimming coach Dave Geyer as saying, “… being here [at LSU] as a student-athlete is a lot different than being here as a general student.”
And he’s right.
Those hulking footballers and slender swimmers? Their coveted bodies are sculpted by world-class strength coaches and dietitians provided by the athletic department. You can always pick them out, decked in free purple and gold Nike swag every day.
In the ill-natured culture of collegiate football, to which I concede I am a contributor, the athletes are glorified by fans and media as if they were professionals.
All of that makes it easy to forget student-athletes are just that — they’re students who also happen to be athletes. We define them by these games they play, a fallacy for which Montgomery supplies the perfect remedial reminder.
When he kicks it with other students, which he said is always a good time, Montgomery “hates” talking about the sport that consumes so much of his time. He’d like to be asked how his day, rather than football, is going. When not at practice or on the sidelines, he’s not even a fan of athletics.
“There’s so much more to life,” Montgomery said.
And after he indulges his inner monster, you can find him shaking hands and signing autographs for those he warmly considers peers.
“It’s really building a family bond. It makes me feel closer when I play, like I’m actually playing for the people instead of just playing for the fans.”
So if you see Montgomery in the halls or classes you share and seek to strike up a conversation before Saturday’s matchup with the Gators, don’t hesitate. He, like all LSU athletes, is just like us.
Just make sure to approach from the front.