This past season sophomore defensive back Matt Arends played safety for the Ivy League champion Tigers. He started all 10 games for the league’s No. 2 total defense. A proud son of Minnesota, Matt sat down with the ‘Prince’ to discuss cross-border milk arbitrage, team style and a grueling offseason schedule.
Q: Where are you from and what’s the best thing about?
A: I’m from Minnesota. And the best thing about it is either the lakes or the accent.
Q: Do people automatically assume because you have the accent that you’re super-nice?
A: They think I’m Canadian. That’s probably the worst thing about being from Minnesota. And people think I live right on the border too. They think Minnesota’s Canada. But it’s not.
Q: I definitely see some similarities between the two. What’s the biggest difference?
A: Canadians always say “Sorry” (heavily accented). And the milk. That’s another big thing. Milk is a lot cheaper in Minnesota than Canada. People will actually drive over the border and cross into the States to grab cheaper milk, because it’s so expensive.
Q: What are you studying at Princeton?
A: I’m probably going to concentrate in the Woodrow Wilson School. And I’m probably going to do the International Affairs track.
Q: If you could live in a country other than the US, what would it be?
A: I’d say France. I’ve never been there and I really want to experience. I can speak French, not fluently, but I can get by in conversation. And definitely either Paris or the southern part of France.
Q: What freshman has made the most impact on the field?
A: I’d say Dorian Williams. He played nickel corner for us. We went nickel a lot this year, actually. He definitely stepped up big time in several different moments. He had a big pick against Georgetown. And he had a huge swat against Cornell in the beginning of the game and (senior defensive tackle) Caraun Reid picked it off. He’s always flying around the field.
Q: Which freshmen have made the biggest impact off the field, socially or otherwise?
A: That’s a tough one. The freshmen are just a great group of guys. Definitely the d-linemen. I have to say the freshmen defensive backs are the best, though.
Q: In football, style cannot be understated. Who has the best style on the team?
A: Just look at [sophomore cornerback] Anthony Gaffney. He definitely goes all out on style. He has probably has a different wristband for every single game. He even got shoes that say his name and number on them. I think he goes to Dick’s [Sporting Goods] at least once a week.
Q: Who has the worst style on the team?
A: Definitely [sophomore defensive back] John Hill. He just looks awful all the time.
Q: What’s the most noteworthy pre-game ritual you guys engage in?
A: I’d say the pre-game prayer. The Lord’s Prayer. Most of the guys go into it. That would probably be the biggest one.
Q: If you could play a sport other than football, at Princeton or professionally, what would it be?
A: At Princeton, I would probably say lacrosse. We’re a big Division I program. Professionally, I’d play baseball. I played in high school.
Q: Time for the obligatory “who’s you’re quirkiest teammate?” question. Who do you have?
A: Definitely [junior linebacker] Garrit Leicht. 100 percent. He wears a green Sunday suit every Sunday and for games. He wore it to Lawnparties. We’re still waiting for him to pull it out again. But Garrit’s a fool. Quirky. Fool. I don’t know the word to describe him.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about your offseason schedule?
A: Right now we’re in winter conditioning. That’s lift four times a week. Wednesday mornings at 6:30 we have morning conditioning. That’s basically where they try to kill us. Simple enough. And Friday mornings we’re also up early. We’ve got lift and either sled-pushes or conditioning after the lift, as well. Right now we can’t really do it because of all the snow. But then we get into spring ball in late March once we get back into spring break. That’s practice, lift, conditioning and meetings. That takes up most of April.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you during a game?
A: My pinky got dislocated pretty badly. It’s still pretty bad. (Cornell quarterback Jeff) Matthews was throwing. I stuck my hand out and it somehow just destroyed my pinky. It looked pretty screwed up in my glove. I kept playing with it for a little while until we went to the sideline. Then I just got it put back in.
Q: What’s the proudest moment you’ve had as a Tiger?
A: I would say probably beating Harvard for the second time. I know it was a dagger the first time on our home field. But this time really just turned the knife in their heart, especially on their field. It was awesome to see, after [senior wide receiver] Roman [Wilson] caught that ball, their stands just clear out immediately. And you could tell that the Harvard guys were just so shocked. It was great to see that on their faces.