Mike's primary position is running back. At a reported 6'2" ("with my shoes on") - 190 lbs., that would seem ideal. Mike also stated that he has been recorded (handheld) running a 4.39/40. Ok, that's it. Offer the kid right there. Ok, maybe not. Measurables are great, but often times, not entire sum of what a young athlete is and isn't and that's certainly the case with Mike.
His Junior year, Mike rushed for over 1,300 yards. Something he's pretty used to as he has been consistent at that (rushing over 1,000 yards) since he was a freshman at Fillmore Central. It's a part of his game that would strike you as obvious along with those strengths he says are most important to how he plays the game. "I don't really have 4.2 speed." Mike said. "But, I have really good vision. Also, to me, I have really good feet and strength and can keep going after I get hit."
That type of running has served him well and is expected to serve him even better this year, but he's hoping for a better result, at least as far as the team goes. Fillmore Central did indeed make it to the playoffs, but bowed out at the quarter-finals. One of the biggest reasons for what Mike perceived as a major letdown was something he equated to what was wrong with the state-worshiped Nebraska Cornhuskers. "I think what happened to them is kind of like what happened to our team this year." Mike said. "I just don't think there was anyone out there putting a fire under people's butts to play how you are supposed to."
That kind of emotion doesn't come naturally for Mike, but for him, if there is one thing that can bring a team together or tear a team apart isn't what one person does, but what they all do and for that, he said that others should be held accountable. "I think you should have a captain for every position." Mike said. "That way someone knows what's going on and can go to that person and get on them if they aren't doing it right."
"We (his team at Fillmore) had a great senior class, but it's like they showed it on the field, but didn't get on anyone else. I think you have to have that fire with the whole team and you need leaders to make that happen."
It's something that Mike plans on personally changing if he can. "If I get voted captain, I am going to go up to every person that is like one of the leaders at each position and tell them, I am giving you the responsibility to do what you can do with the other people and get them motivated to do the job."
If I can coin a phrase or mind-set here, Mike has a belief that many have in that what separates football players and great football players isn't necessarily the talent to play football, but the attitude that makes a player suited for the game of football. That mentality to do a variety of things, but most of them when it counts the most. It starts with many aspects, Mike having an opinion as to his favorite. "To me, it's about getting in the other team's head while keeping your own." Mike said. "There are times when you can just go all out, but there are times you have to do this or that, but still go balls to the wall."
You can tell that Mike has just about every intangible you need to play this game and his physical size and speed certainly appear to be there as well. So, that brings us to the obvious question considering his location, is it the Huskers or bust? "To me, that's where I would go first." Mike said. "If they offered, I would go there, but if there is some other place that fits me, I'm open to that to."
What Mike wants most of all is a place to get a good education. "Education is first for me." Mike said. "After that, I look at athletics." Mike has plenty to look at as well, speaking of academics as you look at some of the schools sending him letters, Stanford and Notre Dame just to name a couple. Also on that list are Nebraska of course, followed by such schools as Iowa State, Iowa and Michigan. Like almost every other kid around the country, no offers yet, but if you were to judge anyone just on those sending him letters, Mike's stock is already looking pretty good.
The recruiting process though isn't something that particularly interests Mike. Not that he isn't interested, but he's just kind of one of those guys that will meet that situation when it gets here. He looks at choosing his school the same way. It's basically the idea that the future isn't going to disappear just because he isn't thinking about it, so why worry about it right now. "I'm not thinking about any of that stuff right now." Mike said. "If it happens, great, but right now, I'm just looking at an education in my future and if anything else happens, ok."
For the third year in a row, Mike will be attending the Nebraska camp this Summer, but hasn't made plans as to what other camps (if any) will find him there. Also, with a young man not even interested in the recruiting process now, you can understand if he doesn't have a time frame for a decision. Basically, he's taking it all in, one day at a time.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619