TDA: You were a dual sport athlete in high school. Could you have played basketball in college too? Were you recruited?
JS: Yeah but it would have been smaller schools. I was First-Team All-State but I could not have played major though. My coaches said there were juco coaches who were interested.
TDA:Why did you decide to go to Alabama? Were you always a fan?
JS: I was actually a basketball guy and I didn’t really know how good I could be in football, I was actually surprised when they offered me. And when they did, I wondered if there would be a better opportunity, I figured this would be the best situation for me. To me, the name speaks for itself.
TDA: What was it like coming from Decatur coming to Tuscaloosa? What was the biggest transition on and off the field?
JS: There really wasn’t much of a transition, Decatur is a small town only 55,000 lives here. The hardest part was attending class when you didn’t really have to that was one of the things that took a lot of guys under. In high school you had to go, but college was more optional. Also the speed was much different, in college 80 percent of the team is legit top notch players. Maybe 2 or 3 in high school.
TDA: That first year was a redshirt year for you, what did you learn that helped you prepare for the years ahead?
JS: Honestly, nothing. For me it was just understanding the game. I was so young when it came to football. It was really my fourth year playing football so just understanding the game was the biggest thing.
TDA: Who were some of the guys who you looked up to while at Alabama or kind of took you under their wing?
JS: It was not really one person in particular. Brooks Daniels was definitely one and him being somewhat of an undersized linebacker and he always came to play. The locker room was so much of a brotherly locker room and like a band of brothers. They really just took the underclassmen in and wrapped them up.
TDA: You were somewhat undersized listed at 220 pounds. What about your game allowed you to play at a high level despite not being 235 plus?
JS: I just had a nose for the ball. That was always my thing even in high school. The older I got the better I started understanding the game, and once I did, it became easier. As long as I knew where I had to go it helped.
TDA: You were apart of one of the greatest trios of linebackers in Alabama football especially in the 2000’s with Demeco Ryans and Freddie Roach, what was it like playing alongside those guys every week?
JS: It was fun. When I tell you, it was just fun. You had two different characters and they both went out to play football and had that passion and they really made it easier. Just playing with them it taught me a lot and it really stepped my game up.
TDA: What made you stay after all of the chaos after that 2003 season?
JS: For me, the name is greater than the problem. It was the University of Alabama. For me, I understood the tradition and it was a privilege to play there. With Fran that year, I was just getting there. I figured I could adapt to the coach because I didn’t go there because of the coach. I just looked at the big picture.
TDA:Talk about that 2005 team and that defense. What made it so special?
JS: We just went out and played football. We had a lot of fun, we had a lot of seniors and leadership. We started winning and it was like a domino effect. Unfortunately, when Tyrone went down, it hurt us a little bit. I still think it’s one of the better defenses in Alabama history.
TDA:What was the best game you played in at Alabama?
JS: The 2005 Florida game. It was No. 3 and No. 5, sellout crowd in Tuscaloosa. I remember the first series being out there. I had to signal to Freddie and DeMeco because the crowd was so loud. Probably the loudest game I’ve ever been apart of.
TDA:How does it feel to see the success Bama is having now and knowing you were apart of helping pave the way for it?
JS: Personally, it makes me feel good. My dad always told me to never be a quitter. People want championships, and that comes with the territory. Everyone remembers the ’05 season but 10-2 is nothing like three championships.
TDA:What was the iron bowl like as a player compared to the fans perspective?
JS: The fans probably put more into it. We want to beat everybody no matter if it’s Auburn, Georgia, or Tennessee. The bragging rights definitely play a part in it. It seems while I was in school people hated Tennessee more than Auburn though.
TDA:Does it still bother you that you were not able to knock off your in-state rival?
JS: Only if somebody brings it up *laughter* I was there five years, it sucks, but I understand the game. You win some you lose some.
TDA:What are you up to now?
JS: I’m playing for the CFL in my 8th season. Getting towards the end, looking more towards life after football. I’m thinking about coaching at some point. I’m just very fortunate and blessed.
TDA:What do you do outside of football?
JS: I’m married with two kids. Outside of football, nothing but being with my family. I just enjoy quiet and peaceful time. I play ball every now and then.