David Vickers is talking with reporters after a hard afternoon of work.
It is an unusual practice. Don’t misunderstand; Vickers treats the media well. But the CSU safety is the epitome of the strong, silent type.
He speaks in spearing opposing receivers and flattening a running back. Pain is his language. If anyone has had ample opportunity to lash out vocally, it’s Vickers.
Yet, the Garden Grove, Calif. native has remained quiet.
He could have shouted in celebration after a stellar beginning to his career. After starting 11 games as a freshman, Vickers was a mainstay on the Ram defense at middle linebacker his sophomore year. He finished 2000 third on the team in tackles and was selected as an honorable mention All-Conference pick.
He could have cried about his bad fortune in 2001. A knee sprain forced Vickers to miss five games.
He could have complained when the injury forced him to lose his starting spot to standout replacement Drew
Wood. He could have voiced his aggravation when he was asked to move from linebacker to strong safety before the 2002 season.
But Vickers plugged away, mouth shut, same as he always has. It’s just his style.
“He really doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to,” said Wood, CSU’s junior linebacker. “You see the look in his eyes when he’s on the field and you know he’s going to make the plays and get his job done.”
Getting the job done hasn’t been much of a problem for Vickers, even at his new position.
Despite not having played safety since high school, Vickers has amassed 22 total tackles so far in 2002, best on the team, and was named the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the week for his 13-tackle performance against Colorado.
“Most of the tackles he makes, he’s out on an island and it’s one-on-one,” Wood said. “If he doesn’t make those stops, we could have had some big games against us.”
For Vickers, the move to safety was a way to get back on the field. After filling in for Vickers, Wood excelled at middle linebacker and never relinquished the starting spot.
“It was devastating for me just not being able to play with my teammates, my friends,” Vickers said. “But
Drew stepped up and helped the team a lot. I was hoping to get back on the field in some way and safety was a good break for me.”
Wood agrees that while the situation was tough, both players understood the reality.
“We’ve always had a tight-knit team and David is a good friend of mine,” Wood said. “He doesn’t look at it as it was my fault he lost his job.”
With both Vickers and Wood on the field, the defense has had a strong start to 2002. CSU coaches got a good break when Vickers took his new role in stride.
“A lot of guys wouldn’t accept what happened and that just really underlines what kind of guy he is,” said
Larry Kerr, the Rams defensive coordinator. “He’s a character guy and he responded like I knew he would.”
Vickers’ response to adversity continues to inspire his teammates.
“He’s the kind of guy you want to play with,” senior linebacker Doug Heald said. “David’s approach to football is he does everything right. He’s just a great player.”
Vickers realizes that in spite of his early success, there is still room for improvement.
“I’ve had fun because I play the safety a lot like a linebacker, but I’ve had to work hard on my footwork and my coverage skills,” Vickers said. “I just go day in and day out and do my job.”
Perhaps no one sums up Vickers’ ability to do his job better than head coach Sonny Lubick.
“David’s been such a dependable player for us through all he’s been through,” Lubick said. “They just don’t come any better than David Vickers as a player, as a student and a young man.”