Coaches Corner: Brian White - GW (Cedar Rapids)

Colorado has just five scholarship linebackers returning next season. One of those players — Chris Hollis — saw time at defensive end in 2003, and it's unclear whether the move will be permanent. Either way, the Buffs need to sign some quality ‘backers in the upcoming recruiting class. One of the three verbal commits at the position in the class — Maurice Cantrell of George Washington High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa — fits the mold of the kind of linebacker CU has been going after the past two years.

Brian White is defensive coordinator at George Washington, which won the Mississippi Valley Conference this past year before it lost to West Des Moines in the state championship game, 17-7.

"The biggest advantage he has is he can run," White said of Cantrell, who earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors for his role with GW.

Cantrell's family moved to Cedar Rapids from Washington D.C., prior to his sophomore year. White remembers the first time he met the young linebacker.

"I saw him in our weightroom, and he walked up to me and said, 'I'm Maurice Cantrell and I'm going to play football here,'" White said. "I said, 'Well, this is the weightroom, and you're going to get to know this place a lot.' And he's one of our most consistent lifters. He never misses a day of weightroom."

White said Cantrell's work in the weightroom over the past two years turned him into the team's strongest player. Cantrell played at between 220-225 pounds last fall, and he benches 335 pounds, cleans 280 and squats over 400 pounds, according to the coach. But the part of Cantrell's game that White keeps coming back to during a recent interview is his speed.

"He can flat out fly," White said. "He could carry 240 and still fly. He's a specimen. He's a freak. He's a kid that just has all the physical tools."

A high school player's 40-yard dash times can be deceiving. The time recorded on a muggy summer afternoon on grass in Iowa will probably differ from one run at sea level on a track, which will differ from one run on the Tartan surface at Balch Fieldhouse in Boulder. With that in mind, Cantrell's 4.58 time in the 40 is a blink-of-an-eye quicker than what any of the current Buff linebackers came to Boulder with.

Cantrell, who had 105 tackles on the season, had an offer from Iowa State, where White projects he could have gone in and cracked the two-deep right away this fall. But Cantrell told he chose Colorado because he liked the coaching staff.

White also had Cantrell in the classroom.

"He's a smart kid — good grades, and easy to get along with," White said. "He's very assertive."

On the field, that personality led to Cantrell being "a vocal leader, and a kid who led through his actions and with his mouth."

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