FRISCO, Texas – A great defense usually has a great nickname. Just Google ‘The No-Fly Zone,' 'The Wrecking Crew' or ‘Blackshirts.'
More often than not, the position coach will bestow a nickname on his gang – offensive linemen are ‘slobs,’ defensive backs belong to the ‘hit squad’ and defensive lineman are snuggly little kittens.
Why was a North Dakota State defensive tackle walking around Toyota Stadium with a stuffed animal kitty cat doll?
All of North Dakota State’s defensive positions have a group moniker. The defensive backs are the wolf pack; the linebackers call themselves the headhunters. Except the defensive linemen – but that changed two years ago.
NDSU’s defensive line calls themselves ‘The Alley Cats,' – a nickname started by former Bison standout and current San Diego Charger Kyle Emanuel.
So why does a group of down-and-dirty dudes call themselves The Alley Cats?
“We are always beat up and we are always kicked in the corner of the field,” senior defensive tackle Brian Schaetz said. “Nobody really cares about us. As long as we make plays and we do what we are doing we will survive.”
The mascot of the NDSU’s Alley Cats is a stuffed kitten decorated by defensive end coach Jamar Cain’s children. Schaetz and his motley crew of linemen say the cat’s name is Feo – the Spanish word for ugly.
"Just wait until you hear us meow," he yelled as he walked over to the team photo shoot.