There are athletes who give the standard, safe response to questions. And then there is Auburn’s gregarious star defensive tackle and media favorite, Sen’Derrick Marks, who in a phone conversation Tuesday discussed drunken people at rodeos, trying dip with his teammates on the offensive line and, of course, his four gold teeth. Every answer is punctuated with a chuckle.
Q. What are you listening to these days?
A. “I listen to rap. But I’ve been getting into country and the slow stuff. I’ll be chilling with (Lee) Ziemba and (Ryan) Pugh and Chaz (Ramsey) at their house, and we were sitting around a campfire listening to country music. Next thing I know, I’ve got a dip in with the white boys around a campfire. But I like that country. I like any music if it’s got a nice beat.”
Q. Anything in particular?
A. “I’ll sit down and go through their iPods and see what sounds good. I like that Travis Tritt song, ‘Great Day to be Alive.’ And Gary Allan. I like that song, ‘Her Man.’ There was one the other day called, ‘Pickup Man.’ I don’t know who sings that (it’s Joe Diffie). Did you know there was a rodeo here in Auburn? I went. I enjoyed it. There were a lot of drunk people, though. It was crazy.”
Q. Did you know you’re the first athlete who’s told me he liked rap/country?
A. “You’ve got to expand. You can always get smarter. You can read all the books in the world, but you can always expand and get smarter. Someone could say he’s the smartest man in the world. But if he’s black, he’s probably never listened to country. And if he’s white, he’s probably never listened to rap. So they’re probably not the smartest men in the world.”
Q. What’s the story behind your gold teeth?
A. “You know what’s surprising? No one ever asks about my gold teeth. I think you could say my gold teeth are my identity. A lot of other stuff I changed, like the way I dress or the hair that I grew. But my teeth? It’s a part of me. This is Sen’Derrick.”
Q. When did you get your first one?
A. “I was 12 years old, seventh grade. My first gold tooth. The process is crazy. You get your teeth filed down to get it fit, and there’s a shot to numb your gums. I guess there’s some kind of cement or whatever, and they slide the cap of the tooth on top of your real tooth.”
Q. And this is normal in middle school?
A. “Oh, yeah. That was the norm where I’m from in Mobile. I asked my mom about it and she was like, ‘Cool! But you have to pay for it.’ I got my grandma to pay for it. The first one was $180. When I went back to get three more, it was down to $150.”
Q. What would you do if you didn’t play football?
A. “After being in school I want to, I don’t know, maybe do counseling for alternative kids or kids at risk. Coming from where I came from and I how came up, a lot of my friends were not doing what they were supposed to do. They would give up. My family grew up in the projects in Mobile, but we moved out and seen a lot better things. I go home now and see young guys now and the females, and it’s unreal. I’ve got a friend I stayed in the projects with, one of my best friends — he went to Alabama A&M and went on to Howard for law school after three years. We went back to visit and we saw how the young girls were acting, they were little kids when we were there. Just to see how they were talking and acting, I told my friend, ‘I got to go. I can’t be here.’ To see how the young guys were talking to the young girls, it’s ridiculous.”
Q. What’s Tommy Tuberville like away from football?
A. “He always wants to make jokes. He’s always making jokes. Last week before the first game, he told me, ‘If you’re scared, get a dog.’ I said, ‘Coach, where did that come from?’ He’s a really funny guy.”