Football the Primary Focus for Amateur Guitarist Pollak
INDIANAPOLIS - The guitar stayed home this weekend.
And Mike Pollak said that's where it almost certainly will remain for the immediate future, because although Pollak – an offensive lineman and the Colts' second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft – is an avid amateur guitarist good enough to wow and entertain teammates at Arizona State University, he is now a professional football player.
That means football is the focus now. The only focus.
And it means no guitar for a while.
"I've got a lot of other stuff to get under my feet before I get too relaxed," Pollak said with a laugh during a recent interview for this story, the first of a nine-part series on the Colts' 2008 draft class that will run on Colts.com in the coming weeks.
When he does relax, Pollak – who, like the other 21 draft selections and free-agent rookies is spending the weekend in Indianapolis at the Colts' rookie camp – said the guitar is pretty much how he does it.
He first became interested in the instrument when he was a sophomore in high school. He was at the home of a friend, who Pollak said was a good guitar player.
"I asked him to teach me some stuff," Pollak said. "I picked it up pretty well and it went from there."
He picked it up enough to play in front of his ASU teammates at a talent show at the 2004 Sun Bowl. That went well enough that teammates later chanted his name and requested he play Metallica during talent shows put on by freshman for older players.
"It's a big hobby of mine," Pollak said. "When I'm not playing football, when I'm just home relaxing, that's a big thing that helps me unwind at the end of the day."
As his years at ASU went by, Pollak became known for more than music. He developed into a team leader for the Sun Devils, starting 10 games his first two seasons, then emerging as a full-time starter in his junior season, when he was a second-team All-Pac 10 selection.
As a senior, he became the nation's top center prospect, and was a first-team all-conference selection.
Pollak spent this past season playing for Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson, then in his first season in the program after taking over for Dirk Koetter. Erickson coached the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, and previously coached at the University of Miami.
The Sun Devils went 10-3 this past season, playing in the Holiday Bowl and finishing 11th in the BCS standings.
"I thought it was going to be hard at first, just because I had built such a good relationship with the first coaching staff, but Coach Erickson came in and spoke with the team," Pollak said. "He spoke so highly of how he wasn't going to try to rebuild from the ground up, that we had a lot of talent in the room.
"He said as long as we bought into his program we were going to be successful. That got a lot of seniors and leaders on the team on board with him."
When Colts President Bill Polian and Director of College Scouting Tom Telesco scouted Arizona State this season, Erickson told them Pollak was the Sun Devils' best player.
"We have a high regard for Dennis Erickson and he volunteered, 'This is my top guy,''' Polian said. "He talked about intangible qualities. When we saw him play in the ballgame (against UCLA), we both came away saying, 'Boy, that may be our guy.'''
Among the intangibles about which Erickson spoke: leadership. Pollak was a team captain the past two seasons, a role he said "I'm very comfortable with."
"I don't know why," he said. "I guess it's something I was born with or taught growing up. It's just an ability to do things the right way, to fulfill that leadership role."
Pollak, who started 13 games at center each of the past two seasons, will compete for a starting position at guard with the Colts, Polian and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. Pollak said he played guard at times at Arizona State, and said it doesn't much matter where the Colts play him.
"I'm just coming to learn as much as I can and work as hard as I can," Pollak said. "They have so many great leaders on the team. I'm just going to try to come in and try to be wherever they need me to be and go with 100 percent effort trying to fulfill that.
"I don't have a big head at all. I don't care if I'm a guy who never gets talked about. If we're winning, that's the most imant thing to me."