Alumni in the News

Mr. Bobby Joseph Wagner – B.S., Business, 2012

Herald Journal

Just two short seasons ago, Bobby Wagner was preparing to take on Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. And now? Well, the former Utah State Aggie is preparing for the biggest game of his life: Super Bowl XLVIII. “It’s a great feeling just because like we were talking about, we went from the Idaho Potato Bowl to the Super Bowl,” Wagner, a starting middle linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, said in a recent interview with The Herald Journal. “Just everything that’s happened in between, being blessed to come into the league and I’ve been doing well. It’s definitely a great feeling.” This year’s Super Bowl, set for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., pits the NFL’s top-ranked defense in the Seahawks against the league’s best offense in the Denver Broncos. “It’s going to be fun,” Wagner said. “We’ve actually played them twice.” Seattle and Denver met in the preseason this year with the Seahawks rolling to a 40-10 victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They also met in the 2012 preseason with Seattle winning 30-10. “I know in the preseason it’s hard to really gauge a game, but I definitely feel like the first time I played Peyton Manning it was probably like, ‘Man, wow. This is a guy I’ve been watching all my life,’” Wagner said. “But now, he’s just another great player I’ve got to go against.” Wagner always figured he’d reach the Super Bowl at one point in his career. He just didn't imagine it would happen so quickly. “If I was talking to myself back then, I wouldn’t have said, ‘Hey, I’m about to be in the Super Bowl in the second year of my (NFL) career,’” Wagner said. “But, I definitely felt like someday I would reach this point, just not this fast.” What makes this trip to the Super Bowl even more special for Wagner is the fact he gets to share the experience with former USU teammate Robert Turbin, who is also in his second season with the Seahawks. “It’s great,” Wagner said. “It’s good to have somebody that you’ve known for a long time (with you). It’s been great and we both have been there for each other through this roller coaster. “It’s fun. Whenever he busts off a long run, I’m right there celebrating with him. Same thing when I make a big tackle, he’s one of the first people to celebrate with me when I’m coming off the field, so it’s definitely been fun.” Turbin and Wagner will become the 14th and 15th former Aggies to appear in the Super Bowl. “I think it’s great exposure for not only Utah State football, but for Utah State University,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “Those two guys are both alumni, they’re graduates and they represent Utah State very, very well. We’re happy for their success, not surprised by it, and we want to see them do well.” So does Kerwynn Williams, an Aggie teammate of Turbin and Wagner. “They have a great team up there in Seattle and just to see two guys I played with and really spent a lot of my career with have that accomplishment so early in their careers is definitely good for me to see,” Williams said. “It’s exciting that both of them have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl and potentially win it. I’m definitely happy for both of them.” Who will Williams be cheering for come Sunday? “I wouldn’t be a great friend if I wasn’t cheering for my two guys to get that win,” he said. “I definitely would like to see them both get a win in the Super Bowl. ... I just want to wish Bobby and Turb the best of luck. I know they’re going to do well in the game and I look forward to
watching it.” Williams just wrapped up his first season in the NFL. He was drafted in the seventh round by Indianapolis, but the Colts released him from the practice squad on Oct. 8. The San Diego Chargers eventually signed the Las Vegas native to their practice squad. “It was a humbling experience,” Williams said of his first season in the NFL. “It kind of reminded me a little bit of the beginning of my career at Utah State, but at the same time, I realize that nothing is given to you. Everything is earned with hard work and it makes me hungry to compete for a spot next year.” Hard work certainly helped Wagner get to where he is today. The 6-foot, 241- pounder has recorded 120 tackles, 5.0 sacks and two interceptions this season. “It’s been a very different one for me,” said Wagner, when asked about his year. “I got hurt for probably the first time in my football career, so that was an adjustment having to deal with that. But, I feel like I’ve bounced back and I definitely learned from it.” Wagner suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Seahawks’ 34-28 loss at Indianapolis on Oct. 6. He only missed two games, though. “I worked real hard to get back, so I came back pretty fast,” Wagner said. “It kind of slowed me down a little bit, but once I got 100 percent, I was building.” He certainly was at full-throttle in the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco. Wagner racked up 15 tackles as the Seahawks held off the 49ers 23- 17. “There was so much build-up for this game because they’re the 49ers, our divisional opponent,” Wagner said. “When Russell (Wilson) fumbled the ball (on the game’s first play) it was just like, ‘All right, here we go defense. It’s time we prove why we feel like we’re the No. 1 defense in the world.’” Following Wilson’s fumble, San Francisco took over on Seattle’s 15-yard line. However, the 49ers could only muster three points after the takeaway, and Wagner was a big reason why as he made key tackles on second and third down, respectively. The 49ers only gained eight yards on that drive and settled for a 25-yard field goal by Phil Dawson. Wagner and the rest of his defensive mates came up huge in the latter stages of the game, as well. San Francisco’s final four offensive possessions went like this: punt, fumble, interception, interception. “It was good for our defense to stand out like that,” Wagner said. Wagner has certainly been standing out since joining the Seahawks. As a rookie in 2012, he had 140 tackles to lead the league’s No. 4-ranked defense. Those stops also set a franchise record for a rookie and tied for the fourth-highest total in Seattle history. Wagner finished second in voting for the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year behind Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers. “He’s the same old Bobby,” Williams said. “He’s been doing it for so long — as long as I’ve known him — and it’s not a surprise to see that he’s been so successful in the two years that he’s been playing. He’s always been a hard worker and it definitely reflects it in his play on the field.” For Turbin, he doesn’t get on the field as much as Wagner due to the fact he’s backing up Marshawn Lynch. As a rookie, Turbin rushed for 354 yards on 80 carries. This year, he’s gained 264 yards on 77 carries. “They both have shown a willingness to compete at a very, very high level,” said Wells, when asked what has impressed him the most about Turbin and Wagner. “They’ve ... not only competed, but have played well when they’ve gotten their time to shine.” Wagner still keeps close tabs on the Aggies. “I watch them as much as I can,” he said. “I watch all the national televised games and my phone tells me who’s doing good and all that other stuff. So, I keep a close eye on my Aggies.” He also feels all the love Aggie Nation continues to show him. “I see all the tweets, I see all the messages, but it’s hard to respond to everybody,” Wagner said. “But, I definitely see it and I definitely appreciate all the love. When I came down there on my bye week, they came out (to Fanzz) when I did a signing (session), so there’s a lot of love there and I’ve got a lot of love for them, too.”