Overstreet gives 'Toppers MVP performance in bowl
by Mike Stunson
The Paducah Sun, January 8, 2015
Used with permission
Standing in the back of the crowd - "awkwardly" as he stated - Derik Overstreet heard his name called.
"The Defensive MVP of the Bahamas Bowl ... Derik Overstreet."
Overstreet, a 2014 Paducah Tilghman graduate, was in shock. Freshmen do not typically win awards of this caliber.
"I couldn't believe it. I didn't know where to go when they called my name," Overstreet said. "It still hasn't hit met yet."
In his first season at Western Kentucky University, Overstreet helped the Hilltoppers to their first win in a Football Bowl Subdivision bowl with his five tackles - including two sacks - against Central Michigan.
The freshman was on the field, rushing the quarterback, for CMU's final play - an 80-yard touchdown as time expired, one that will be on highlight reels for years to come. CMU couldn't convert on the ensuing two-point conversion, giving WKU the 49-48 victory after nearly losing a 35-point lead.
"I was rushing the passer to the bench (on the touchdown play). I thought the ball got knocked down and then I saw it going through the air," Overstreet said. "I didn't think they'd be able to score on that. It was just bad. I don't know what I would have done if we would have lost."
Fortunately for the Hilltoppers, they held on for the victory to grab some momentum for the 2015 season - one in which Overstreet will have a reputation to keep.
Overstreet was named to the All-Conference USA Freshman Team after totaling 31 tackles. Now preparing for his sophomore season, he knows his role and knows what it takes.
"I have expectations to live up to now," he said. "I know how to play the right play. It didn't kick in until the end of the season."
When the season began, Overstreet didn't expect to get a lot of action. But due to his size - a hefty 250 pounds and the team's heaviest defensive end - the freshman saw plenty of time on the field.
The biggest improvement Overstreet made in his game is his run defense, which is sometimes an overlooked trait for defensive ends.
"I helped out more on the run than I did the pass," he said. "In high school, I wanted to rush the passer and get sacks. But you can help out a lot more against the run."
Overstreet isn't taking any time off during the break, continuing to lift to stay in shape for spring football. After finishing the 2014 season on a high note, Overstreet's expectations are high for the 2015 campaign.
"We have all the pieces. There is no reason why we can't win a conference championship this season," he said.