Don't ask Jason Speredon to knock on wood, the age-old safety remedy to prevent the advent of ill will, bad karma and nefarious stuff like injuries.
Speredon will go woodpecker on the grainy plank.
He has to.
Speredon, a 6-5, 305-pound senior guard for BYU, is healthy and ready to go for this week's season opener in LaVell Edwards Stadium. He's one of those older BYU linemen that coaches in the country like to complain about, declaring the number of birthdays an unfair advantage, a man going against boys.
Speredon couldn't care less. This is his time. Bring it on. And from what he's been through, yes, he is a man, an Eagle Scout, an honor student from Granger High who spent two years as a missionary in Concepcion, Chile.
"He's making up for lost time," said his position coach, Mark Weber, who tagged Speredon with the nickname "Spartacus" early in fall camp. It stuck.
Speredon will start against Washington, something he's looked forward to for his entire career as he's suffered freak injuries and setbacks that have taken him away from the game he loves.
Although he's played in 22 career games, this is the first time he's been given a major role aside from backing up former Cougar guard Travis Bright and taking duty on the punt return teams. This season is Speredon's final chance to show NFL scouts what he can do as he helps his teammates try to win.
"As a guard, I feel like I have an attitude, kind of a chip on my shoulder," said Speredon. "I like pulling around the corner and getting that shot. I like looking for work. I move around a lot and try to help the team and the guys and my intensity and level of play."
Speredon plays right guard alongside All-American tackle junior Matt Reynolds (6-6, 322). The center is junior Terence Brown (6-4, 330). On the left side are a pair of sophomores, 6-6, 300-pound tackle Braden Brown and 6-6, 310-pound Brandon Hansen.
To start against the Huskies excites Speredon.
"I'm very excited and very grateful. We have a lot of depth at the offensive line and we have some good players. I feel like I've worked hard and battled through this but at the same time I just want to go out there and do my best."
During his career for the Cougars, Speredon has faced adversity, especially with injuries.
"Seems that way, whether great or small," he says. "But some have been in the beginning of the season and some have come at the end. That is the name of the game; that is football and you have to battle through it. Hopefully, it makes me mentally stronger and not weaker. Through my challenges and trials, I've really depended on the Lord and his guidance and he's helped me through it and it's made me stronger."
"It's a word I've been raised to do, persevere. It's been hard at times but I get a feeling of great satisfaction to get through it all."
Weber says one of Speredon's strengths is to get out and run as a pulling guard. "He can really run."
Speredon remembers BYU's strongest linemen of all-time, Travis Bright, and he says the closest guy the Cougars have to Bright's strength is the center, Brown. "He can squat a house."
But bench-press strength is only part of the story, said the senior.
"I think there are two different types of strength. There's the weight room type of strength and there's the football kind of strength you see on the field — playing strength. Obviously there is going to be a carryover, but there's just a different type of strength on the field."
Speredon says BYU's offensive line is comprised of aggressive guys who like to get after it and be physical.
What does he say about the young offense that will break in two new quarterbacks, tight ends and some running backs with the departure of Harvey Unga?
"It's going to be really good," declares Speredon. "We've been able to work through some kinks and iron things out. We are working though our game plan and I'm excited for the plays we have on the script. I'm anxious to see what looks Washington's defense will give us and then work through it," he said.
And this Spartacus bit, and QB Riley Nelson bragging about Speredon having a six pack belly?
"It' funny, the nickname's kind of stuck. But the six pack? I don't know if that's true," he said.
He's humble, too. Just hand him a block of wood.