Blitz-happy

Meet Bjoern Werner, a German with an all-American game

Updated: August 24, 2012, 11:45 AM ET
By Anna Katherine Clemmons | ESPN The Magazine

Bjoern WernerRoss Obley/FSU Sports InformationFrom his freshman year, Werner was ready to make an impact for the Seminoles.

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How did you discover American football in Berlin?
BW: I come from a soccer family, but I attended a camp where we learned flag football. At 15, I moved up to tackle, and my coaches saw that I could play in high school.

You then enrolled at Salisbury (Conn.) School in 2007. Why'd you choose to go there?
BW: I went through an online program run by USA Football International, which gives you a little money to help pay for school. Basically, they give you a list of prep schools in New England. I think I picked it because the team had won the championship the year before. I'd never been to the U.S. and couldn't speak much English. All I really knew was, "How are you?" and "What time is it?" But I picked it up after a few months.

Was it hard to be so far away?
BW: I'm not from the wealthiest family, and boarding schools have a lot of breaks where you have to go home. The expense of flights was tough. In Germany, I also had a girlfriend, who is now my wife. I came to the U.S. as a sophomore, but the homesickness got so bad that I left as a junior. Even when I left, I knew I'd be back for my senior year, because I just wanted to play football.

Why Florida State?
BW: I took my last visit here and could imagine being here four years. I like the warm weather.

How tough of an adjustment was college?
BW: Boarding school prepares you: We had study hall and lived on campus. I didn't have my parents, which helped me grow up faster. When I got to FSU, I knew I wanted to play, so I did the right things. I played in every game as a freshman. Last year, I told myself I would be a starter, and I was in every game.

You also were second on the team with seven sacks. How have you improved?
BW: I'm always watching film to see what I did wrong. I've also worked to get my body fat down. I came in as a freshman at 280, and now I'm probably 262 or 263.

Any nicknames?
BW: No, but guys are always messing with me, pronouncing "Bjoern" with the "j." It's "Bee-yorn." I know there's a baby carrier called that -- a lot of people said that to me in high school.

Do teammates find it odd that you're married?
BW: The whole team knows my wife. She's going to junior college in Tallahassee and has become a big football fan. We live in a house with a few other players, and she is the house mom. She yells at people if they don't clean up. I get yelled at too.

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Anna Katherine Clemmons is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine.