Georgia Tech defensive end Izaan Cross is going into his third year as a starter at defensive end and was named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list, given to the nation’s top defensive end. The senior from Flowery Branch High, who will be counted on to provide pass-rush pressure and leadership, spoke with the AJC about his unusual name, his favorite bowl gift and a trusted pre-game ritual. Questions and answers were edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What’s a crazy story from your recruitment?
A: End of my junior year, we’re sitting in class. That’s when everybody had a cell phone. So our teachers were really cracking down on us having cell phones in class and not being able to use it. Right as she was giving us this huge lecture, my phone started ringing while she was talking about it and it was Urban Meyer calling. So I was like, I have to take this call. I’m sorry, you can take my phone after. I just left class and answered the phone call.
Q: Where did your parents get the name Izaan (pronounced eye-zhahn)?
A: My oldest brother’s name is Isaiah, I’m Izaan, the younger one under me is Imani, the youngest one is Ithello. All I’s. My name means “prayer warrior” and they just had the talk one day to think of what my name was, came up with Izaan. I think maybe my dad had a friend named Izaan when he was younger, something like that. But I like it. I haven’t anybody yet that has the same name.
Q: What percentage of people, when you meet for the first time, pronounce it correctly?
A: Absolutely zero. I haven’t had anybody who has known nothing about me, that never knew of me at all, that has pronounced my name correctly.
Q: What was your best bowl gift?
A: I’ve got to go with the Nintendo Wii. That was the best one.
Q: Which bowl was it?
A: Maybe the Orange Bowl. I was using it for a while. I had used it for a good three, four months strong before I got tired of it, then I gave it to my mom. I really enjoyed that.
Q: Complete this sentence – “Georgia Tech’s defense will be better because”
A: We’re more experienced, we’re more tuned in than we’ve ever been and we’re ready to prove doubters wrong.
Q: What’s one thing you do before every game?
A: I listen to “For Every Mountain” by the Kurt Carr Singers in my locker.
Q: What does that do for you?
A: It’s a gospel song. I just sit, relax, not worried about anything that’s going on around me, to get in the zone.
Q: What’s your most vivid memory of the 2010 Virginia Tech game?
A: How freezing cold it was. But that was a really good game. I think I had a big [tackle for loss] in that game or something like that. (Virginia Tech quarterback) Tyrod Taylor was very hard to handle, running around all over the place.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog