In the Arena Football League it is very easy to overlook the defensive side of the ball. Yet LB KEVIN MCCULLOUGH knows that many games are won by a momentum changing turnover or a game clinching defensive stop.
With the Rattlers, McCullough is a defensive standout that has collected three interceptions [one for a touchdown], four pass break ups, 19 solo tackles and 20 assisted tackles. Two of the linebacker’s interceptions have come late in narrow victories over the Jacksonville Sharks (55-52) and the Utah Blaze (67-71).
McCullough takes pride in his work on the defensive side of ball and has done so since his playing days as a Cincinnati Bearcat where he was teammates with QB NICK DAVILA. During his senior season at Cincinnati, McCullough tallied 132 total tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries, earning All-Big East first team honors.
RATTLERS: After the first loss of the season, is there a change in the game preparation mindset?
MCCULLOUGH: It hasn’t really changed that much to be honest. We’re still 6-1 and we still control our own destiny. We knew coming in to this stretch of division games that there was going to be some tough match ups and that one loss wasn’t going to change our season. We’ve been focused on San Jose since we got home from Spokane and that is what is most important right now.
RATTLERS: What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge when the Rattlers take on the San Jose SaberCats at HP Pavilion this weekend [May 7, 7:30 p.m.]?
MCCULLOUGH: It is going to be a great atmosphere down there. Their quarterback [Mark Grieb] is one of the best to ever play the game and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
RATTLERS: What is your best attribute as a linebacker? What are you working on
MCCULLOUGH: I’ve always thought that my best attribute is my knowledge of the game and also my ability to be able to stop the run. In the arena game, there isn’t that much running. However, San Jose likes to run the ball a lot with lots of screens, so I should be able to get involved a lot more in that sense. Things I’m working on are definitely my hips, getting better at moving side-to-side and changing direction.
RATTLERS: Did you play any other sports growing up and why did you decide on football?
MCCULLOUGH: I was a sports junkie when I was growing up. I played soccer, basketball, baseball and football. There were days where I had two soccer games and then would go straight to a baseball double-header. I loved staying busy all summer and being a physical guy. Having a physical nature is why I chose football.
RATTLERS: Because the AFL is a more pass oriented league, how do you try to stand out at the linebacker position?
MCCULLOUGH: I am always trying to get my hands on the ball and get in the quarterback’s passing lanes to disrupt plays.
RATTLERS: This is your fourth season as an arena football player, do you feel this season and this team is different than any of the others that you have been a part of?
MCCULLOUGH: Yeah I do. We’re all really close and we all hang out and do lots of things outside of football. We all seem to get along really well and we all have that drive to win a championship here in Arizona.
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