Recently I touched base with head coach Vince Marrow at Springfield high school in Holland (OH). In this update, coach Marrow talks about what led his star pupil, defensive tackle prospect Kevin Williams to commit to the Huskers, he also speaks on his life-long relationship with Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.
Thanks for the time coach. Could you start off by giving Nebraska fans a description of Kevin, his style of play, and how you use him?
"It would be my pleasure. Right now Kevin is a solid 6-foot-2.5, and 275 pounds, but the kid has a lot of room to grow.
"This is just my opinion of course, but Kevin is the best defensive player in this entire area. He is right up there at the top in the entire state of Ohio as well. He is such a great athlete he plays on offense at tight end, and a little fullback. He has so much versatility you have to take advantage of that.
"Teams started blocking him with three guys when we lined him up over the center at the 1 (technique), so we started moving him to the 3, the 5 and the 7. He can basically play anywhere on the front four. And he's not just another big body out there, Kevin makes plays, he had over 150 tackles and more than a dozen sacks last year. And that was while other teams were making him the focus of their blocking schemes."
And even though Kevin is still in high school, he shows surprising skill sets for his age.
"Kevin is young for his grade, he is still 16 and won't turn 17 until late summer. But I tell you Kevin, I've been coaching and been around the game of football for a long time, and he's a first for me.
"For a high school D-lineman it's rare, very rare, to see a guy this ready for D-1. He so explosive and strong, a real leverage guy with great speed, he has run in the 4.9's here at school. His technique is good, but he still has some to learn in that area. He gets away with a lot of bull-rushing now, so he'll need to polish up on his hand placement, but that's normal. Once he does that, he'll have the full arsenal, good luck stopping that.
"And I'm not just saying this, he reminds me a lot of a young Suh at this stage."
Will he play any other sports his senior year besides football?
"He was playing basketball, but I think next year he'll just be in track and football. He is participating in track right now. He throws the discus, the shot and he will be in a couple relay events believe it or not. He is a big guy, but he can move his weight better than most."
In your opinion, what were the main reasons Kevin picked Nebraska.
"I'm going to be honest with you here, I thought he was going to commit to Wisconsin there for a minute. He had over 16 offers and schools from all over were starting to call, but he had a top three of Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
"Nebraska offered him first, so that meant a lot to him. But I told him I thought he needed to go through the process first. So he saw Michigan State, then went on a trip up to see Wisconsin and loved it. He was blown away with the coaching staff, the campus and everything like that. After I spoke to him, I was kind of thinking ‘whoa, he is about to commit to Wisconsin'.
"He hadn't visited Nebraska yet, and it sounded to me like he was going to commit to Wisconsin. But he and his family already had that visit to Nebraska scheduled, so they were making the trip no matter what. He was glad he did, because he called me Saturday night from Nebraska and said ‘oh coach, this is it, this is where I want to go'.
"Why did he pick Nebraska? It was the people, the coaches, the fans, the total package. You guys had 80,000 people at a practice, kids aren't used to see something like that. With the year Suh put up and getting to meet him, coach Pelini's background with players at his position, he just couldn't pass up the chance to play for a school like Nebraska."
As most Husker fans know, coach Pelini and coach Marrow grew up together back in Ohio. Coach Marrow said even as a child Bo Pelini showed a strong desire to compete, which is one of his mantras as a head coach. He was also one of the best high school athletes coach Marrow has ever seen.
"Man let me tell you, I was pretty good in basketball and Bo was All-State. We played together through school at Cardinal Mooney. What you see now is how he was then, but he was even more intense back then and always really competitive, fiercely competitive. He was an outstanding athlete, great basketball player, he was All-District every year.
"As a football player he really excelled to, and went on to have a great career at Ohio State. The thing l love about Bo, what you see is what you get with him. Not everybody is like that. I'll tell you a story I remember back in the day about him.
"When we first started getting real close, I took him to where I lived, in the inner-city. We went to play basketball at a playground, where it was predominantly African-Americans, I think Bo was the only white guy there. You see, some guys would freeze up in that position, not Bo.
"He came in and took charge on the court, and won the crowd over by the end of the day. When it was time for us to leave, everybody there was asking him to come back next week and play again.' laughed coach Marrow.
"Youngstown is a very hard-nosed, tough city. But when you earn peoples respect, they give it back."