Feeling confident after being named one of the six 2014 team captains, Daniel Lasco sat down with CalBears.com to discuss the upcoming season as well as his background of being a native of Texas and who his role models were when he was growing up. Lasco and the Cal football team visit Northwestern for the 2014 season opener on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC/ESPN2.
CalBears.com: What does it mean to you to be a team captain?
Daniel Lasco: Being a team captain means being on the biggest pedestal on a football team. I feel like all of the eyes are directed on us. In my mind, this football team is going to be what the captains make it. If we go 12-0 this season, I feel like that’s because our captains were that good to get us to that level. I just want everybody to feel comfortable with me. Coach [Tony] Franklin always says, you have to look to the person to the right and the left of you in the huddle and you have to want to have those people in the huddle with you. If you don’t trust somebody in the huddle with you, then there’s no reason why they should be in the huddle at all. Being a captain, if they can put their faith in me, that means the world to me.
CB: What can we expect to see from the backfield this year?
DL: It’s more than just me and Khalfani Muhammad. Tre Watson and Vic Enwere are going to have their times to shine, as well. The running backs, in general, are going to have more production than what we had last year. It all starts up front with our offensive linemen. I’m very confident in our offensive line this year, and how much they’ve improved in the weight room and on the field. When it’s third and short, we can pick up the first down.
CB: How much has your game individually improved during training camp?
DL: It’s improved tremendously. Camp is one of those times where you spend 30 days with your football family. It’s taking the small things and the details and trying to make those better. Little things like looking a ball in when you catch it, ball security whenever you’re in a situation where the defense can rip at it and just little things that have made me a better football player all around. I’m very comfortable at my position and I’m confident that I can lead this team to where it needs to go.
CB: What can you take from last year’s game against Northwestern into this year’s meeting?
DL: Last year’s opener was a difficult loss. We went into that game with all the expectations that we were going to demolish them. Now, we’re kind of taking the backseat approach in that we don’t want anybody to be overconfident in our ability. We didn’t do anything last year for us to think that we’re all high and mighty. I try to quiet guys down in the locker room when they start saying we’re going to do this and that, and just focus on what we need to do. For the most part, I feel good about going into this game with our gameplan and everything we have scheduled in on it, but I don’t want to be overconfident.
CB: Being a Texas native, how do you like living in California?
DL: I’m a Texas native, but I’m the furthest thing from a Texan. People have that impersonation of a stereotypical Texan, and when they hear that I’m from Texas they usually don’t believe me. I’ve adjusted to the weather out here, so when I go home, I’m miserable. I can’t do the Texas heat anymore. It’s so much better out here. The people out here are more energetic. Everybody wants to go out and do stuff. It’s a high-spirited, open-minded community.
CB: What was your first impression of Berkeley?
DL: On my visit here I fell in love with the weather and the atmosphere here. From the school, to the community, to the team, I felt welcomed. I felt like I came into a family with open arms. I fell in love with every last little nook and cranny that Berkeley had to offer.
CB: Who was your role model growing up?
DL: My grandfather. He taught me everything I know, and he brought me into football. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s given me all of the insight and knowledge that I have. To this day, if I ever need anything, I know he’ll always be there for me. He’s definitely been there for me and I look up to him every day.
CB: Your uncle played at Texas A&M. How much did that influence you to play football?
DL: I was so young when he played in college and even when he played in the pros. I was around five years old. Later on, when I started recognizing everything he did on the field, it was pretty impressive and it motivated me to try to out-do him. Even though he played on the d-line, I still try to out-do all of his lifting records and things like that. He definitely motivated me, but my mom is who pushed me the most. She never let me give up on football when I was growing up and I didn’t want to play football. She kept me in the game.
CB: If you’re not playing in the NFL, what are your other goals when you leave Cal?
DL: Right now, I’ve been thinking about being a firefighter. I really don’t know for sure career-wise, but for some reason firefighting has been interesting to me for a while. I know little kids always want to be firefighters or astronauts, but I was never one of those kids. For some reason it’s been interesting to me now, though. So I’m hoping to see what that’s all about. I’m just focused on getting good grades and helping this football team. Later on down the road, we’ll see how things go, but school and football are my priorities.