Campus Corner

His media blackout lifted, Missouri’s Michael Sam now sings like a bird

Updated: 2013-12-19T17:55:03Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— By his own prerogative, Michael Sam chose not to talk to reporters much during the regular season.

He spoke after recording three sacks against Vanderbilt in Missouri’s SEC opener, but Sam, a senior defensive end who on Wednesday became the Tigers’ second unanimous All-American, hadn’t held court since Oct. 5.

During the season, stories about Sam had to be written based on interviews with his teammates and coaches or people from his hometown of Hitchcock, Texas.

That’s perfectly fine. Sam isn’t under any obligation to speak to the media, but it left a lot of questions lingering in the air.

For instance, Sam’s fellow Tigers frequently mentioned his ceaseless serenades.

“He sings just about every day, especially in meetings and coach Kul (defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski) gets mad at him sometimes,” junior defensive end Kony Ealy said.

Until Tuesday, when Sam lifted his personal media blackout, one could only speculate about the origin of his crooning or what purpose it served.

Sam’s mom, JoAnn, didn’t allow rap music in the house.

“The only music I listened to was Motown oldies, so that’s the music I listened to growing up,” Sam said. “Going into junior high, I got to experience some other types of music and fell in love with that.”

So, throughout the season, as he has for much of his life, Sam has belted out “whatever comes to my head — rock, country, rap,” he said. “I just like music and like listening to music … (and) I just want to make practice easier.”

Sam insists he isn’t a reserved person.

“I’m outgoing and never shy,” Sam said. “If you think I’m a shy person, well, you’ve got another thing coming.”

As far as declining interviews, Sam said he didn’t want to be bothered with non-football distractions.

“I was focusing on playing football and focusing on graduating (with a degree in sports management),” he said.

It’s hard to argue with the results. Sam led the SEC with 101/2 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss en route to winning the conference defensive player of the year award.

Sam was a finalist for the Nagurski, Lombardi and Hendricks Awards and swept first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, Sporting News, the Walter Camp Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association.

“I’m actually coach Pinkel’s first defensive All-American,” Sam said. “I think I opened the way for other defensive players.”

Not bad for a two-star recruit coming out of tiny Hitchcock, a town of fewer than 8,000 located 40 miles southeast of Houston.

“It doesn’t matter what star you’re ranked,” Sam said. “As long as you have a good motor and you can play football and you love the game, I think you can be one of the top people in the nation.”

Perhaps even the most famous person from your hometown.

“As of right now, I am actually,” Sam said with a hearty laugh. He then added, “My family, friends and high school — they’re all very proud of me, and I’m glad to represent Hitchcock High and Hitchcock, Texas.”

Perhaps someone should write a song about it, which, of course, Sam would be happy to sing.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/todpalmer.

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