When Jacob Alsadek was younger – not so much little because he’s never really been little – he wanted to be, wait for it, a ninja.
“When I was younger I loved sushi and I loved the Power Rangers,” he said on Saturday on Arizona’s media day. “Those guys were awesome.”
His dream of being one vanished “when I stopped fitting into my ninja costume.”
That was when he was about 10 years old for the now 6-foot-7, 325-pound offensive lineman. These days he’s mountain of a man in the form of a teddy bear in cleats, a Paul Bunyan type who clears gaps for running backs.
Heck, in fourth grade he was 146 pounds and a mountain of a kid. He was 5-foot-5 back then. When he was in kindergarten he kneeled down for a class picture and was still taller than his classmates, even with them standing up.
“I’ve always been pretty big,” he said.
What was to have been a bonus for the ninja world never materialized but it did for the University of Arizona.
Football came about by mistake. And he’s OK with that.
“I’ve always been the biggest kid and people would say you’re going to play football,” he said. “So I did, and I fell in love with it.”
It did take a bit of motivation, however, in part because of who he is and continues to be – a mild-mannered, thought-provoking offensive lineman/college graduate.
To say he’s come a long way in football would be an understatement.
“I was playing football as a (high school) freshman and I was thinking it isn’t for me,” he recalled. “I thought I was over it and didn’t want to do it anymore. Then, one coach told me to pretend that (the coach) killed my dog. After that, I finally understood what I had to do. You have to be really mean. I fell in love with being a prick.”
A year later, he really fell in love with it, thinking football “was pretty awesome.”
Now, as he enters his senior year – he’s a fifth year senior – he continues “to find his inner prick” on the field to be one of the better offensive linemen in the Pac-12. At Arizona, he’s started 33 of 35 games. He’s also the anchor to what will be crucial to Arizona’s offensive success this season.
“On the field, people tell me I’m a totally different guy … not cool,” he said, with a smile. “I don’t talk I’m just focused. I try to be the nicest guy there is (off the field). It’s kind of funny.”
That grittiness or pain-in-the-neck attitude is part of mentality the offensive line is trying to embrace, Alsadek said.
He said the O-Line has done well this fall camp, dealing with lingering injuries throughout but fighting through them.
“We’ve stepped up and have done well,” he said.
They have no other choice. But it also goes to what he’s learned most while at UA, where he’s already graduated with a degree in urban and regional development.
“Even if things are going hard, you have to push through it,” he said, of what he’s learned the last four years. “You just have to push through it. If you have bad practices you have to get yourself out of that rut. I’ve had them and it’s not where I wanted to be.
“You just try to get out of it. Good things will come through hard work.”
Kind of like his philosophy about football. He’s in it and it’s provided him a nice career with a possible future, one he never really thought he’d have a future in. But he does.
“I kind of just go with the flow; it’s kind of very San Diego of me,” he said. “Kind of how I’ve done everything (with the philosophy of) I’m going to do it.”
“So far so good,” he said.
If it doesn’t work out, he can always do real estate, something his father does as well.
“I don’t want to fall back on him; I want to do it for myself,” he said. “I like real estate, talking to people and selling stuff.”
More importantly, he’ll follow his own advice of “whatever you do you want to be good at it. Whatever I’m doing I want to do my best at it. I don’t want to be that guy where I’m content at it.”
Even if he can’t be a 6-foot-7 Ninja.