WATERVILE — While discussing senior linebacker Steve O’Grady, Colby College head football coach Jonathan Michaeles is asked, what’s O’Grady’s defining moment?

The answer is on the tip of Michaeles’ tongue before the question is finished.

It was the 2013 Bowdoin game, O’Grady’s sophomore year. In making a tackle, O’Grady cut open the bridge of his nose.

“There’s just blood everywhere. Blood all over his face. The ref is making him come off the field, and he’s incensed, just screaming ‘Get this fixed!’ Our trainers are trying to stop the bleeding,” Michaeles said. “It’s like a boxer. He gets back on the field two plays later and blows it up again. There’s blood everywhere. At no point was leaving the field part of his mindset.

“He has an approach mentally that he’s going to get things done. He’s going to find a way.”

Now a senior and one of Colby’s captains, O’Grady looks to come back from an injury-filled junior year to set the tone for the Mules defense this season, which opens on Saturday when Colby hosts New England Small College Athletic Conference rival Trinity.

“I love being on the field. If I can get my teammates to feel that same way, have some of the same motivation on why you’re out here, that’s a win for me,” said O’Grady, a North Andover, Mass., native.

O’Grady’s Colby career has been part intensity, part injury. He arrived on campus after recent wrist surgery, and saw limited playing time as a first-year player.

“That really gave me a whole new appreciation for the game. I was on the sidelines, and it’s a big step removed. It’s hard to get through that. It just made it that much better sophomore year when I got back. I was able to get some good reps in,” O’Grady said.

O’Grady made 39 tackles as a sophomore — fifth-best on the team — with a sack and an interception.

“He’s been a leader of this team since he’s been here. Even his freshman year, he didn’t play, but his presence of respectability and accountability, people just look at him and know this is a guy that has this toughness about him. He’s that kind of kid in all phases of his life,” Michaeles said.

Eager to build on that success and improve as a junior, O’Grady was hit by another injury. This time, it was a sprained ankle in the first rep of the first full contact drill of the preseason.

“I was told I’d be out for the season, because there was some ligament damage. Fortunately, that was kind of a missed diagnosis,” O’Grady said. “I was able to come back Week 4 against Amherst. I was never really 100 percent last season, but it was 10 times better than staying on the sidelines.”

In four games — half the season — O’Grady made 19 tackles, including 11 solo, and had two tackles for a loss. This season, O’Grady slides from outside linebacker to the middle, replacing four-year starter Henry Nelson, who graduated. Middle linebacker is a position O’Grady played in high school, so he calls the move a return to his roots.

“It’s a lot more run-heavy. A lot more banging the pads and getting up on pullers, which has always been my strength and what I love,” O’Grady said.

Added Michaeles: “It’s not that big of a move. He’s the guy who makes the calls. He’s the main communicator. If there’s a guy who’s the heart and soul of your defense in a 4-3 defense, it’s your middle linebacker. That’s who Steve O’Grady is.”

An Environmental Science major, O’Grady hopes to work in the conservation field upon graduation next year.

“I’m really passionate about conservation work. It’s something I want to continue in,” O’Grady said. “I definitely want to go into the field of conservation, and I don’t think I’ll stay in one place for too long right out of college. I want to travel a little bit and experience some new environments.”

In his final season, O’Grady is focused on being a leader for the Mules on a roster that includes 46 players in their first or second years.

“I always just strive to be the best I can be, in everything I do, and fully commit myself. I want to help other people feel the same way. I’m not huge on setting concrete measurable goals,” O’Grady said. “I’m more trying to understand the big picture, and making sure within that big picture you’re doing the right thing. We want to win games. We want to go 1-0 on Saturdays.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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