The play was a blur.
He didn’t remember what anyone told him immediately afterwards, except for one word from fellow defensive lineman Cleon Aloese — "uso."
“I remember him running up to me and giving me a big hug,” Tarell Basham said. “He yelled ‘uso.’ In his language, that means brother.”
The two brothers embraced near the Ohio sideline as they celebrated Basham’s accomplishment.
His accomplishment, however, was no small feat.
In the blink of an eye, Basham came through the middle of the line on a stunt and took down the Kansas quarterback last Saturday. The sack gave him his 20th career sack — the school record.
“It’s about time I got me one,” Basham recalled thinking. “It was a long game. It came at the end of the fourth. First thing I thought was ‘Oh! That’s the one!’ I got up, did what I wanted to do, put the belt on, went onto the next play. It was a great feeling.”
He got calls from friends and family, including kind words from those around the football team about his record. He said each one of those calls and messages felt great to receive.
But it’s not Basham’s freakish athletic ability that gets him recognized. It’s his off-the-field characteristics.
“He’s vocal,” said Jesse Willliams, the Ohio defensive line coach. “He brings a lot of energy and effort to the drills. The greatest thing about it is, like a lot of the other guys on the group, he has a lot of passion for the game. As a senior, it’s always complicated. You see the clock running down. He’s only been here for four years; it happens real fast.”
Basham said he tried to take on a greater leadership role this season with his career winding down. An aspiring club-owner and actor once his football career ends, he has tried to take the younger players under his guidance this season as his time as a Bobcat comes to an end.
“A lot of guys out here listen to me,” he said. “We just want to do what we’re capable of doing with that role to better the team to get everyone on the same page. Communication is key out there.”
The leadership has always been there for the four-year starter, even if it was shown in just his on-field effort.
“He has a motor that goes all the time,” Coach Frank Solich said. “I like to see those kinds of guys get rewarded, so I feel it is a great honor for him and well deserved.”
Basham’s leadership, and production on the field, has helped the veteran defensive line tally six-and-a-half total sacks this season in just two games. That statistic puts them tied for 15th in the FBS, tied with the likes of Stanford, Michigan and Penn State.
Basham’s 20th sack placed him at 13th in the Mid-American Conference career sack list. With a strong finish of 12.5 sacks, he’ll break the all-time record. NFL standout Khalil Mack finished with 28 career sacks second on the list –– a number certainly reachable for Basham.
“I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just focused on the game,” Basham said of his record-breaking sack. “Focused on my alignment assignment, making sure I’m in the right gap. I knew if I played hard enough, the sack would come. I just had to stay disciplined and do what I was coached to do.”
But for Basham, the career sack record for the Bobcats wasn’t enough. He has another goal to reach.
The school record for sacks in a season is nine with the record set in 1992. It’s safe to say that record is within striking-distance for Basham.
But he’s not sitting back now that he has the career sack record. He has another record to catch.
“Two down, eight to go,” he said.