MANKATO — Minnesota State had just given up a 90-yard drive for the go-ahead touchown to open the second half of last week's game against Minnesota Duluth, and another score might have created a deficit that was too large to overcome on the road.
The defense needed a stop, and a turnover would be even better. That's when Nathan Hancock has been showing up.
"The coaches do a great job of coaching the players to look for turnovers," Mavericks coach Aaron Keen said. "He studies his assignments, and it seems like he's in the right place. The most exciting thing is to watch him at the point of contact,"
The Mavericks (3-0) host Northern State (1-2) in the homecoming game at 2 p.m. today at Blakeslee Stadium. If there is a turnover by the Minnesota State defense, there's a decent chance that Hancock will somehow be involved.
"I get so excited when we get a turnover because it's a chance to celebrate with my teammates," Hancock said. "When you get one, you want to get right back out there and get another. I just want to contribute to the team.""
Hancock was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference defensive player of the week for his performance at Minnesota Duluth, where he made 10 tackles, recovered a fumble, made an interception and forced another fumble. Those three turnovers came on consecutive possesions, which allowed the Mavericks to rally.
Hancock probably shouldn't even be at Minnesota State. He was hotly recruited in the Kansas City area, and he chose Nebraska-Omaha, where he redshirted as a freshman. Before his sophomore season, Nebraska-Omaha dropped football, leaving Hancock to search for a new home.
A lot of schools showed interest, but he was looking for a place where he could study civil engineering.