Stanford's high-motor, mullet-toting defensive end Ben Gardner is the subject of this week's Meet A Cardinal. He's been, perhaps, the biggest surprise on the defense with his never-quit determination to make plays in the backfield and get to the quarterback. On the year, he has 17 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks. He's also logged two pass breakups, two quarterback hits, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
The third-year player (redshirted in 2009) hails from Mequon, Wis., and is pretty formidable with a set of golf clubs.
I understand you lettered in golf in high school. How often do you hit the links and are you the best player on the team? I am the best player on the team. I'm not afraid to admit that. I don't get out as much anymore. This summer I played probably three times. In the spring I played with my grandpa in Palm Springs for a few days. But other than that, it's mostly football at this point in my life. Hopefully someday I'll get back to being able to play more golf.
I've got to ask, is there some inspiration with the hair? It started as a joke last training camp. I had some pretty long hair and I cut in a mullet for training camp. Everyone thought it was funny and liked it and they convinced me to keep it for the season. It started to get longer and turned into a real mullet. Everyone convinced me to keep it for another season so I'm sticking with it for the rest of this year. Everyone says I'm trying to go with the Jared Allen look. Not a bad guy to model after if you're a defensive linemen.
If you could trade lives with one guy on the team for a day, who would it be and why? Definitely Andrew Luck, just to feel what it's like to throw the ball 70 yards with no effort. I can barely throw it 20 yards and I can't throw a spiral at all. So I would love to feel what it's like to have a rocket arm for one day.
Describe the feeling when you get a sack to someone who has never experienced that: It's one of those feelings that is tough to describe. A lot of times the guy is about to throw it and you're not sure if you sacked him or just got a hit on him. When you see the ball in his hands on the ground, you're just all fired up and you want to let out a roar. It's like a lion taking down its prey.
Finish this sentence. My teammates would describe me as the guy most likely to ... : Probably get made fun of everywhere we go for my mullet. The fans at Washington State were riding me all game long and they had some pretty good jokes. It was pretty funny.
I've got to follow up then. What was the best one-liner you heard? From a lady, actually, behind the Washington State bench. She yelled 'Hey Gardner! Who cut your mullet? Did your mom do it for you in your trailer?' When our offense scored to put us up by 28, I actually turned around and gave her a little wave goodbye and said 'happy homecoming.'