Chris Overton was all over the field last week, but the St. Ambrose senior is more focused on the plays he didn't make than the ones he did.

"I’ve really got to dig deep," he said. "I didn’t do the best. I may have had top four, top five most mistakes. It’s not always sunshine when I’m out there making plays.

"I’m just always so hard on myself."

That constant drive to improve and harsh inner criticism have pushed Overton to new heights at an unfamiliar position. The senior is leading the nation with both nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his first year at defensive end for the Fighting Bees.

Last week against St. Francis (Ill.), he had a team-high 11 tackles, six for loss, and is currently fourth on the team with 27 total tackles.

It's that constant drive and effort that's allowed him to stand out though the team is struggling with three straight losses.

"Chris will be the first one to say he’s not playing mistake-free football," head coach Mike Magistrelli said. "He’s making some mistakes, and there are some assignment things he’s trying to clean up, too, but boy you watch how hard he plays snap in and snap out. ... He’s playing with an energy and an effort and the enthusiasm that should be indicative of all of our guys on both sides of the ball."

Overton is playing his final season at a new spot after moving to defensive end in the spring. It was a difficult request for both coaching staff and player after Overton earned first team all-conference honors at linebacker last year and finished second on the team with 68 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

But with the emergence of Dillon Valdez at linebacker and Servando Duran moving inside on the line, moving Overton down to the rush end spot made sense as it helped the Bees get their best 11 players on the field on defense.

Overton was hesitant to make the move but took on the new challenge.

"I look at myself in the mirror — that’s my toughest opponent right there — and ask, ‘How much of an athlete can you be, switching from free roaming linebacker to banging heads with some big o-lineman the next year?’" Overton said. "It’s still very different. I’m getting used to some different things. … I feel like I’m transitioning pretty nicely."

Overton had one sack in the opener against Dakota State but broke out with four sacks the next week, tying a single-game school record and earning conference player of the week honors.

"To me it’s his motor, his athleticism, his feet, his hands, the ferociousness he plays with and the confidence he plays with. It’s really hard on a bigger lineman to be able to block that," Magistrelli said. "To see him have the success he’s having, obviously (defensive coordinator Vince) Fillipp looks really smart for making that switch, and you give Chris a ton of credit for accepting that challenge and taking it head on."

With the Bees currently at 2-3, Overton's goal of helping the Bees win a national title seems out of reach, but a conference title is still attainable, and the Sacred Heart-Griffin graduate's personal goals are certainly well within sight. 

Overton is five sacks away from tying Jerry Klosterman's single-season school record of 14 sacks set in 1987 and looks poised to earn all-conference honors in consecutive years at two different positions.

"My personal goals are always high. You shoot for the stars, and if you don’t make it, you fall in the clouds," Overton said. "I always want to be all-American, recognized as one of the best to come through Ambrose, and if I’m on pace to do that, I’m just going to keep grinding, keep working more. Even if I just make all-conference, that was my initial goal and I’d be so proud of myself if I did that."


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times