Coach Speak: Nick Conner

In a new feature, speaks with the high school coaches of Ohio State commits to find out what makes their players stand out on the field. First up is Dublin (Ohio) Scioto head coach Karl Johnson speaking about Irish four-star linebacker and Ohio State commit Nick Conner.

Karl Johnson, the head coach at Dublin (Ohio) Scioto, speaks with about Ohio State commit and four-star linebacker Nick Conner.

What is his biggest asset on the field?
I don't know if I could pick just one. The thing that I'd pick that's his biggest asset is that he's a football player. He's got the size, he's got the speed, he's got the length and athleticism… but at the end of the day he's a football player. He's tough, he's physical and he's a competitor. All he cares about is winning and playing his best. If you're a high school coach or a college coach, he's the kind of kid you want to coach.

How have you seen him progress throughout his high school career?
He's a guy that you knew coming in as a freshman that he'd have a chance to be a Division I football player if that's what he wanted. He's also a heck of a baseball player. You know, I think during his junior year I saw a switch. We didn't necessarily accomplish all the goals we wanted. We had a good season, but we didn't have a great season. We made the playoffs, but we didn't advance in the playoffs. I think he just gets it. He wants his team to win.

How would you describe his personality?
He's very focused. He helps those around him. He's going to try to do everything in his power to help his team win. It doesn't matter. If I came to him and told him we needed him to play left tackle, he'd go play left tackle to the best of his ability. It's just the way he is. He's not condescending, but he has high expectations for his teammates and himself. He sets an example for how things need to be done.

In his career, is there a play or performance that stands out to you?
We're playing Westerville South, heck of a ballgame with lots of good plays. We go into overtime and he carries the ball I don't know how many times to get us down to the goal. There's no stopping him from getting into the end zone. Then they had the ball and we need to get a stop. They've got the ball trying to tie it up and the quarterback does a play-action pass. He gets frozen and knows the guy behind him is open. He times up the play with the quarterback's release, jumps and picks it off. Ends the game. That's a moment that I'll remember just because he was playing both sides of the ball and he came through for us.

I remember against Kilbourne in Week One (a 22-21 win for Dublin Scioto), we had fourth-and-16. He's sucking air, and it's 100 degrees. He's been playing the whole game both sides of the ball. They snap the ball and he runs his route, gets 17 yards and catches a jump ball for the first down to keep the drive alive. Those are just a couple of moments that I remember from last year.

What do you want to see out of him in his final year of high school?
He's going to lead our defense. He's going to be the quarterback of our defense. We're going to try to put him in a position to make as many plays as he can. He has things he wants to improve on defensively. We're going to try to use him on offense to create holes for people to run through or give him the ball and let him run over people. Going forward in college, the only thing I can tell you is that if you're a college coach, you're crazy for not trying to get him in your program. He's the kind of kid that helps coaches win.

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