Canadian Firefighter Holds Court at Media Day
5:55 P.M., MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010
IRVING, Texas - Maybe it's something in the water, or maybe it's all the food they eat. But for the last three years, Baylor's offensive linemen have stolen the spotlight.
Following in the footsteps of Jason Smith and J.D. Walton, senior offensive tackle Danny Watkins held court during the Big 12 Football Media Days on Monday.
The native Canadian, former firefighter and self-proclaimed "glorified goon" in hockey seemed at ease in answering the barrage of questions that were fired his way during the four-hour session.
"The camaraderie with the guys (in the fire hall) is unreal," said Watkins, who worked as a fireman in his native town of Kelowna, British Columbia, for five years. "You'll never meet a finer bunch of upstanding men than that. And that's the thing that makes playing football great, too. Playing on the offensive line, you're with the same guys day-in and day-out. And it's the same thing with the fire hall. You're with the same guys day-in and day-out through the good and the bad, through the sun and the rain."
It's been well-documented that Watkins had never played football until walking on for the Butte (Calif.) College team after initially enrolling for the school's fire academy. But growing up in Canada, he played both hockey and rugby.
"I was a glorified goon," said Watkins, when asked what position he played in hockey. "I hope my parents aren't going to hear this, but they stopped coming to the games because they said , `If we wanted to watch you sit in the penalty box, we'd stay at home and watch you sit in your room.'''
While you would think that the physical nature of rugby is the thing that would have helped prepare him for the rigors of football, Watkins said it was actually a skill he learned from hockey.
"That was learning how to skate backward and bend your knees," he said, "because it really is the same in pass protection. You need to bend your knees and sink your hips and get down."
Watkins is still learning the game of football and he might need some help as a reporter as well. When he turned the tables around on some of the same people who had interviewed him during the day for a feature on baylorbears.com, he had to be prompted to hold the microphone up closer to his mouth.
And then, he actually missed one of his own questions that he was asking everyone about Canada. That's right, Danny, it's not 13 provinces. It's 10 provinces and three territories.
"Eh, provinces, territories, they're all the same."
Remembering Anthony Arline
4:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2010
Anytime we lose a member of the Baylor family, there is sadness.
But somehow it's even more painful when it's a young man in the prime of his life, who goes long before his time. That's why it was so troubling when news surfaced on Tuesday that former Baylor cornerback Anthony Arline had died over the Fourth of July weekend at his apartment in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 26.
"Anthony was one of our favorite people around here," Baylor assistant coach Larry Hoefer said in an interview with KWTX-TV of Waco. Hoefer is the only holdover from the staff that Arline played for during his career at Baylor (2002-06). "We're shocked, as everyone that knew him. He was a three-year starter and a great young man who was loved by everyone on our football team. We're just saddened by the loss."
Arline, a native of San Antonio and the first Baylor recruit selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, combined with C.J. Wilson to give the Bears a formidable cornerback duo during the 2004-06 seasons.
In his most memorable play, he returned a fumble for a touchdown that gave the Bears a late lead in a game they lost in the final seconds to Washington State. But as flamboyant and vocal as Wilson was on one side of the field, Arline just did his job quietly and effectively, never seeking the limelight.
"He had a lot of tremendous plays on the football field," Hoefer said. "(Anthony) thrilled us and our fans, especially. He was just a special young man and someone we will really miss."
An honorable mention All-Big 12 pick as a junior and senior, Arline graduated from Baylor in 2007 and signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers, where he was reunited with former Baylor defensive coordinator and secondary coach Bill Bradley.
"I brought Anthony to San Diego. I thought he was a great football player," Bradley told the San Antonio Express-News. "What a great young man he was. After he left camp, he called us and said his heart wasn't in football anymore. He was a shy kid, but was quietly strong. You never heard a cross word said about him. My prayers are with him and his family."
After leaving the Chargers camp, Arline returned to Waco and eventually joined the Air Force. He was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio at the time of his death.
As we mourn the loss of one of our own, I pray that we will remember those "tremendous plays" and the quiet confidence of a young man who gave everything he had for the Bears. No. 6, we will miss you!
The funeral service was originally scheduled for 10 a.m Friday, July 16, at Hope Chapel on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, but will be held instead at a church that the family has not settled on yet. Burial will follow at 1 p.m. at Ft. Sam Houston Cemetery.