It might have been the highlight moment of his football career, but you wouldn’t have known it looking at K-State defensive tackle Travis Britz.
When he threw his hands into the air and swatted an extra-point try against Oklahoma on Saturday, Britz kept his celebration to a minimum. Even though he helped the Wildcats preserve a 31-30 victory, tying a program record with his fifth blocked kick, his mind was too focused on the here and now of a difficult road game to comprehend the bigger picture.
He remained hesitant to reflect on the play three days later.
“It’s something I should be doing every time,” Britz said Tuesday. “It’s something that is really neat and special, but at the time I was probably thinking, ‘Yes, I’m off the field.’ Looking back on it, it probably was a special moment.”
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Other teams might not ask a key defensive contributor like Britz to block kicks, opting to let him rest up for his next series. Britz is happy to do it.
So much so that he labels his special-teams work as an obligation, like brushing his teeth and shaving. If he stopped doing it, he would feel lazy.
“It’s something I feel like I am obligated to do as a part of this team,” Britz said. “I am out there during summer conditioning always working hard. I see the offensive line doing the same thing, working hard and never getting any credit. It is an obligation to go out there and do the best I can on every snap.”
That relentless approach has earned Britz the respect of his teammates and a near-permanent spot on the field. With 14 tackles, including two for loss, and a blocked kick, Britz has become a driving force on K-State’s defensive line and special-teams units. He only gets to rest when the Wildcats are on offense. On Saturday, that meant he was wrestling with Oklahoma’s offensive line for nearly 80 plays.
It was tiring double duty, sure, but it was the way he wanted it.
“He has really gotten invested mentally in his preparation and trying to improve,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “He has made that investment and moved in that direction. He takes a great deal of pride in what he does. I like the idea that in this day and age you find a guy who is playing a lot of snaps and is heavily invested in some aspect of the kicking game, which Travis is.
“He takes a lot of pride in that. It’s important to him. He works very diligently to develop the skills and techniques to do some of those things. That has carried over to defense for him.”
His teammates have noticed.
“He is a tough, physical player,” offensive lineman Luke Hayes said. “He is going to do everything in his will to either make the play or open up something for a linebacker to make a tackle. Even if it means he is taking on two blockers (and) someone else comes free to make the tackle, he is willing to make the sacrifice for his team.”
Defensive tackle is a difficult position to make shine. You can’t pile up sacks like defensive ends, and tackles are hard for them to come by because offensive linemen are always in your face.
That Britz is beginning to be noticed speaks to his commitment on both defense and special teams.
“It takes a lot of strength and a lot of toughness up front where he plays,” defensive end Ryan Mueller said. “It’s all about hand placement and footwork. They are athletes, too. I have had the privilege to watch him grow. He is a true talent … I love playing next to him.”
To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.