University of Northern Iowa Defensive End Isaac Ales sat down with the voice of Muscatine’s Joel Kraushaar to talk about his career at Northern Iowa. Ales is a finalist for the Walter V. Campbell trophy, and is an Academic All American. Ales leads UNI in tackles for losses and sacks. The Physical Education major has a 3.44 GPA.

VoM: As you went through your recruiting process what stood out about UNI, and has UNI lived up to your expectations?

Ales: The winning tradition stood out to me.  The fact that I also had a chance to get on the field sooner was another big reason why I chose UNI.  Being close enough so my family could make it to my games was very important to me as well.

VoM: What have been the highlights of your playing career so far?

Ales: Being able to play the sport I love with some great friends.  Beating NDSU last season at home was something I will never forget as well.

The Missouri Valley Conference is the best conference in FCS; the Valley has 5 teams ranked in the top 25, what’s it like preparing for the best of the best each and every week?

Ales: It makes you a better player.  Knowing that you have to continually get better and better each week is a challenge, but it is what you have to do in the Valley.  There are no easy games and anything can happen.

VoM: A fellow Muskie coaches the Offensive line for your team; I know my days as an NAIA Defensive line coach that the rivalries can be fairly stiff between the O and D Lines in practice. And sometimes the coaches stoke those flames intentionally? Does Coach Ben Barkema push your buttons a little bit?

Ales: Coach Barkema has done a great job here and with the O line.  He is the type of guy that the players want to be around and he likes to have fun with us at practice.  We never really get into it with him unless it is giving him some grief or doing something to make him laugh.  I really appreciate the things he is doing for our team and I wish I could have a few more years with him as a player.

VoM: Your team is on a winning streak, what has helped you turn the corner after a few disappointing losses?

Ales: We started playing with more grit.  Coach Farley told us what grit was during that rough patch and we started playing with more of it.  We are all focused each week on the game that we are preparing for.  We don’t look ahead we just focus on one team at a time and one play at a time.  Coach (Bryce) Paup always says just do your job and everything will fall into place.  If we just do our job and make the plays that we are supposed to make, we will have success.

VoM: I know its one step at a time mentality, but what are your looking forward to most about Sr. Day on Saturday?

Ales: Having my family there with me.  They have not missed a game since I started playing football back when I was a little kid.  I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me and I don’t know how I could ever repay them.  They are my biggest supporters and having them walk out there with me will be very special.

VoM: I coached this year with one of your former coaches Chris Lary; you have a well-known nickname of Hurricane Ike. How did you get that nickname?

Ales: It came from Coach Tom Wilson back in high School! Hurricane Ike was all over the news and he said I am like Hurricane Ike because I was always wreaking havoc on the field.  He always calls me Hurricane now and I just smile when he does.  I am still working on a nick name for him.