Toni Pole stands on the Martin Stadium field to talk after an August practice.
Nine months earlier on the same field, Pole was running, and running, and running, into Cougar history.
Pole had just begun to clap in celebration when he saw the ball.
"Logan (Mayes) hit him (Washington quarterback Keith Price) and was flipping him around," Pole remembered during a December interview just weeks after the Apple Cup.
What Pole thought was going to be a sack by Mayes quickly transitioned into something much more.
"All of sudden I see the ball comes out. I reached up with one hand and grabbed the ball.”
Suddenly, he found himself with the ball and instantly became the focus of 30,000 cheering fans at Martin Stadium and a national television audience.
“I was on autopilot,” he said. “My body just took over. I just started running."
Pole ran until he was caught and tackled by Washington receiver Cody Bruns at the five-yard line.
"Maybe I shouldn't have ate so much for Thanksgiving dinner," Pole joked.
Pole joked about eating too much during that December interview. But as he reflects back after an August practice, he remembers a time he did not have that luxury.
“My family didn’t have a lot,” he explains. “Some nights we didn’t have food on the table, to be honest. Our parents did a good job. My dad, growing up, he worked three jobs, two landscaping jobs during the day and at night he worked at the factory.
“As I think back I’m almost crying.”
This background that magnifies the significance of the scholarship Pole has earned.
“It’s really a blessing,” he says. “Just being able to finish school is going to be a big deal for me.”
A redshirt junior nose tackle from Union City, Calif., Pole is majoring in criminal justice. He intends to use his degree to reach out to disadvantage youth.
“There’s a lot of talented kids you don’t take advantage of the opportunities,” he says. “I want to reach out to those young people and put them in a direction and show them the opportunities of life.”
Such as the opportunity to play Division I football, which Pole says is a blessing.
“There’s no where I’d rather be right now, at this moment, than right here playing football for the Cougars.”
And as he stands on the field, Pole points to the area he was running.
“It was right there. I remember.”
As does every Cougar fan.