Calderwood still on a mission for Utah State
Appeal Sports Writer
Ben Calderwood followed the path to the Utah State football program that is normal for in-state players, but vastly different from the rest of the country.
Calderwood went on his two-year Mormon mission fresh out of high school. He spent the next 24 months traveling around Brazil, going door-to-door to speak to anybody who would listen about the Mormon religion.
It put him behind schedule for football, but it was a life experience he wouldn’t trade for anything.
“It was an amazing experience,” Calderwood said at the recent WAC Media Day. “Getting to know the Brazilian people was amazing. The trip helped me grow as an individual. I’d love to go back.
“You learn how to be a grown-up. You do dishes, you cook. You generally take care of yourself. There is nobody there to do things for you. You are on your own (with other young Mormon adults).”
When Calderwood came back in 2004, the Aggies were playing a 3-4. The Aggies used Calderwood as an outside linebacker, but he ended up redshirting.
Current head coach Brent Guy came aboard in 2005, and immediately the Aggies became a 4-3-4 team, and Calderwood was converted to a defensive end, which is where he played at Sky View High School where he was a second-team all-state perfomer his senior season.
“I put on 30 or 40 pounds,” Calderwood said. “I was glad they switched. I felt a little more comfortable because I played defensive line in high school.”
Calderwood said he got a lot of help from several older players on the team, helping make the transition to college football easier. He played in just six games as a back-up on the defensive line, registering a season-high five tackles against Boise State.
“Two years ago, he ran around and made a bunch of plays,” Guy said. “He’d play 18 to 20 plays (a game), and all of a sudden he had three or four tackles.”
Calderwood took over a starting spot last season, and despite a hand injury which forced him to miss two games, he still finished with 44 tackles, including 6.5 behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks which earned him second-team all-WAC honors.
He was a bright spot on a unit that quite simply didn’t get the job done last year. Forced to stay on the field for way too many snaps last year because of an ineffective offense, the Aggies allowed more than 40 points a game in each of their last five contests.
“It was tough,” Calderwood said. “We gave up a lot of big plays.”
The Aggies’ best game and only win last year was a 13-12 win over visiting Fresno State.
“I felt that everybody in it wasn’t out there for themselves but as a team,” said Calderwood, who was WAC Player of the Week for his season-best nine-tackle effort. “If we play more like that, with that kind of feeling, we can have more success.”
Much is expected of Calderwood. It’s his second season as a starter, and he’s already been selected to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list, and was a preseason all-WAC selection by several national publications.
No doubt he’s expected to be another John Chick in terms of performance. In fact, Guy said that Calderwood reminds him of Chick.
“He reminds me of John Chick,” Guy said. “Two years ago, he (Chick) led the WAC in sacks. We moved him around, and people had to know where he was.
“He (Calderwood) is real relentless. He’s a good run defender who plays off blocks well. He can play the open side or the tight end side.”
Guy considers Calderwood a good pass rusher. Calderwood racked up just two sacks a year ago, but that stat doesn’t tell the entire story.
“It’s not just sacks,” Guy said. “It’s forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he wants to; throw off rhythm.”
Create havoc. That’s what Guy wants to happen, and Calderwood has the skills to make that happen.