Houston looking at life after football

Columbus, Ohio running back prospect William Houston learned from his father's first-hand experience that life beyond football must be planned out. That is one of the reasons the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is interested in Northwestern.

William Houston learned from experience.

His father, Will, was a four-year starter at full back for Ohio State. He then went on to the NFL, carrying with him the rugged, hard-running style that fit so well in the Big Ten, but repeated shoulder injuries cut his career short.

For all his success blowing up pass rushers, protecting his quarterback and converting those crucial third and ones on many a Saturday afternoon, Houston's football career was over, abruptly cut short by something so unexpected, so uncontrollable.

It was a hard-learned lesson for Houston, one that influences his son today in the midst of his recruitment and college search.

"It's not all about football," Houston Jr. said, "I know what happened to my dad. Football isn't a whole life thing, it can end pretty quickly. It's about what school can set me up best after football, too"

That experience, among other factors, led to Houston's authentic interest in Northwestern. He believes the school's academic stature and career building programs separate it from other Big Ten schools.

"It would be great to play for a school with such tremendous academics," he said. "It sets you up for a great life after your done playing. Football doesn't last forever."

Running backs coach Matt MacPherson, Houston's lead recruiter, last visited the 2013 running back prospect at Dublin Scioto (OH) high school in March. He watched Houston workout with teammates then spoke with Dublin head coach Karl Johnson about Houston's comfort level in a spread offense.

Houston plays in a spread offense at Dublin and is open to playing in a similar system at the next level. In fact, two of Houston's top four schools, West Virginia and NU, run offenses similar to Dublin's. Penn State and Michigan State round out his top four.

"I've played in a spread since high school, so I wouldn't have any difficulties playing that kind of offense in college," Houston said.

Prospective coaches have tagged Houston a "hybrid" player for his wide skill set and ability to play both fullback and tailback. At Dublin, Houston thrived as a runner while refining his pass protecting and pass-catching skills in an effort to expand his repertoire for the college game.

The 6-foot-4, 240-lb prospect is willing to play both positions, and despite his preference for the Big Ten, is not limiting his options to any one conference.

"My dad played in that conference, so it would be pretty cool," he said. "But I can see myself playing anywhere, really."

Houston has dedicated himself to a new powerlifting program offered at Dublin called BFS, short for bigger, faster, stronger. So far, the results have paid off, as Houston has lowered his 40-yd dash time to 4.64 and upped his max bench press to 315 pounds.

Although he's yet to set foot on campus, Houston plans to visit NU this Friday, when he and some of his teammates attend a workout in South Bend, IN. He plans to make his decision by the end of the summer.

"I'm excited to finally get to campus and see what it's all about," he said. "It's exciting. I've built a great relationship with coach MacPherson, and Northwestern definitely a place where I think I could have a great four or five years."

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