Coach Speak: Collins Okafor

You see 6-foot-0+ running backs and you almost assume that they don't have the ability to break the big gainer or a long touchdown run. There are exceptions, like Eric Dickerson for one. Marty Kauffman, the head coach at Omaha (Nebr.) Westside speaks highly of Collins Okafor and even compares him to Dickerson. Both are up-right running backs that run tough and can make the long runs.

It's nice having a weapon in your back pocket like Collins Okafor. What might have been nicer for Head Coach Marty Kauffman was having Okafor for three or four years. Having Okafor for two years at Omaha (Nebr.) Westside was pretty good though.

"I have had Collins the last two years," Coach Marty Kauffman said. "Athletically, Okafor was always in the picture, but didn't play his sophomore year because he was injured.

"After the injury it was just, wow, it was great. He can break that long touchdown and it makes a heck of a lot of difference when you have a guy that can break it for 80 yards and a touchdown."

Okafor is big. What people lose though beyond the size is Okafor's speed. Coach Kauffman compared Okafor to an NFL Hall of Famer and says that Okafor has the ability to get tough yards or take it 80 yards for a touchdown.

"One is his size-speed combination, he's quite unique. He's right around 6-foot-2 and about 210 or 212 pounds right now. His lower body strength and his hips are a big advantage. If you don't take him on right you can't take him down."

"I think that he is a combination, I think that he kind of runs like Eric Dickerson. He's an upright runner with the ability to run between the tackles and the ability to take it around the corner and go. He is a long striker."

There were some questions in December and January about Okafor and Nebraska. Okafor got out and saw Stanford and Iowa for official visits. Coach Kauffman said that things were just so drastically different for Okafor that he had to look at the process again.

"He committed so early, maybe the fifth game of his junior year, and it gave him a lot of time to build a relationship with both Coach Bill Callahan and Coach Randy Jordan.

"When that goes away, he's an 18-year old kid with the pressures of recruiting. I think that he wanted to see what was out there and got a quick response from people. It was a difficult process to lay out everything and take a look at it again."

With over 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns through just the past two seasons there are some things that Okafor is going to have to do to take his game to Nebraska. Coach Kauffman said that the biggest adjustment for Okafor will be the speed of the game.

"I think that it will really be adjusting to just how fast things are. When you see that opening you have to get through it quick because it closes much more quickly than in high school. I think that I will call it his vision. That will take some adjustment."

Coach Kauffman saw Okafor commit to Coach Bill Callahan and then re-commit to Bo Pelini. The change in the staff was assisted with the return of someone that Coach Kauffman has known for a long time.

"I have known Tom Osborne for quite a long time. I guess for some people, he is bigger than life, but I know that when he says that he is going to do something that he does it.

"I think that he calmed everyone down when he said that it was going to be a quick decision and not a prolonged situation. I think that he is pretty well respected from high school coaches not only here, but across the country.

"I think that transition became easier with him involved. It's always difficult to transition from one staff to another. I have been very impressed with Coach Bo Pelini and his staff. The new coaches were very up-front and honest."

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