There might not be a more interesting member of the "Brew Crew" than Eden Prairie [Minnesota] star defensive tackle Willie Mobley. Mobley, 6' 2" and 260 pounds, gets his drive and his inspiration from his mother, Roxanne. Mobley, who calls his mother his best friend, readily admits he's nothing but a "mama's boy."
"My mom is the best, straight up," Mobley admitted. "She came to America from Iran at a very young age. There was a war going on between Iran and Iraq at the time she came to America with my uncle. They received visas to go to college in America. She excelled in school and married my father at the age of 19. I was born a year later, but my parents divorced shortly after that. I have a half-sister and I have a good relationship with my father, but there is nobody in the world like my mom. She is my best friend, and she's the person I trust most in the world."
You could think a young mom might fear seeing her son play the game of football, but that certainly was not the case in this instance. Willie Mobley was encouraged by Roxanne to get involved in football at a very young age.
"I think I was a third grader at the time," Mobley said of his football beginning. "I was playing in a league with fourth and fifth graders. My mom pushed me into football and I've never regretted it. I was always one of the biggest kids, even though I was the youngest. My mom loves football as much as I do, and she knows the game really well."
Roxanne understands her son will be traveling a long way from home to attend college. Willie explained why his mother is so comfortable about him going to school at Ohio State, rather than Minnesota.
"First off, my mom knows that I'm 18 years old, and it's time for me to make my own decisions and grow up," he said. "Second, she loves Ohio State and the coaching staff a lot. She calls the coaching staff "the men of honor." She guided me through the recruiting process and encouraged me to be an adult through the entire process. "Doc" Tressel has been up here a lot. I've probably seen him five times in the past few months. Jim Tressel will be doing a home visit this week, and my mom is real excited to have him in our home. The bottom line is that my mom trusts the Ohio State staff to take care of her son. She loves these guys, and feels they are the best mentors for me."
It isn't just his mother that Willie feels close to. He has also formed a strong relationship with his fellow "Brew Crew" members and Mike Brewster in particular.
"Oh man, that Mike Brewster is a crazy man," Mobley said with a laugh. "That's scary for me to say because he and I are so much alike. "Mike is always talking and laughing all the time. We talked on the phone before my visit nearly every day, but we really got to know each other when we were together for the Wisconsin game. We discovered we had so much in common, and we both felt like we had known each other for years. We always joke around a lot, and we both love football so much.'
"Jake Stoneburner is another great guy. We got to know each other really well on our visits, and we really have become great friends. We are like the Three Amigos. We are all planning on rooming together, but we'll see how that goes. Devier Posey is another recruit that I feel pretty close to. This whole class is really tight, and even the Ohio State coaches have noticed that. The coaches encourage a family atmosphere at Ohio State, and we already feel like a family."
Mobley knows he will be joining an Ohio State team that will be returning many great players. He understands the competition will be great, but he's looking forward to being part of one of the top teams in college football.
"It is really exciting to know I'm coming to one of the best teams in the country," Mobley stated. "I can't even imagine how tough the practices will be. I know there will be a big adjustment coming from high school, but I'm ready to pay the price to be a contributor at Ohio State. Being a powerful program wasn't the main reason I chose Ohio State. It was more the entire experience of being a Buckeye, and the people I would be playing with. I know they put a lot of players in the NFL, and all high school players want to play in the NFL, but the academic atmosphere at Ohio State was just as important to me and my mom. If I am fortunate to get the chance to play in the NFL, I know having the opportunity to learn from these great coaches, and especially Jim Tressel, will be to my benefit. It's exciting to see how far I can go with my ability and the great coaching at Ohio State. I know a degree from The Ohio State University will last me a lifetime, long after my football career is over."
Mobley, a talented athlete, isn't quite sure what position he will play initially at Ohio State. He enjoys playing both inside, or outside, on the defensive line. The Buckeye defensive coaches have told him he could play either spot.
"I honestly don't know where they will start me out," Mobley said of his future position. "That's one of the things I want to go over with them on the in-home visit. I've talked with Coach [Jim] Heacock and he told me he's looking for some rush ends to get to the quarterback. I could go in there and play defensive end right off the bat. I will have to learn the position and the techniques they use at Ohio State. I've played more on the inside in high school, and I'm used to being double and triple teamed all the time. As a defensive, tackle I understand they won't be able to double me like they did in high school, because the competition will be so much better. I currently am 6' 2" and I weigh 268 pounds. I'm working with a personal trainer and a nutritionist right now. I'm looking to lower my body fat, while adding strength and muscle. Coach Heacock told me if I can report at 255 pounds, with less than 10% body fat, I could be on the field right away at defensive end. I'm training as hard as I can and my goal is to play next year. I think my quickness would be an asset at defensive end. I can make plays on the outside and I think I'm a good pass rusher. With the coaching at Ohio State, combined with my ability, I just know things will be great for me at Ohio State. Coach Heacock told me I could be one of those special players that dominates at the college level. Coach Heacock isn't one of those guys that throws that kind of praise around often, so that meant a lot to me. He told me that they needed me pretty badly at Ohio State. He said with a lot of hard work that someday I could find my picture up on the wall at the Woody Hayes building. That's one of my goals, believe me."
Willie Mobley knows he hasn't gotten to this point in his life by himself. He mentioned two people, in particular, that he feels indebted to. Not surprisingly, one was his mother, Roxanne. The other was his high school coach, Mike Grant, the son of legendary Minnesota Viking coach Bud Grant.
"My mom will always come first on the list of people I need to thank," Mobley said. "She transferred me to Eden Prairie, because she thought that would be best for me. She did so much to help me get serious about my grades. We've been through a lot, but she never gave up on me. I didn't take school work seriously as a youngster. It wasn't until I thought football would be taken away from me that I got serious in the classroom. I've changed a lot, and I've learned a lot because of her. ‘ "Mike Grant is just a great man, as well as a great coach," he continued. "He never bashed me after a bad game or got down on me when things didn't go right. He supported me with encouragement, and stressed academics."
Being academically responsible was a lesson Mobley needed to learn. It's apparent he now understands the importance of achieving in the classroom, as well as on the football field.
"I'm pretty proud of the fact that I've been on the honor roll at Eden Prairie since my junior year," Mobley explained. "I'm carrying a 3.8 GPA. As a sophomore, I was mostly goofing around in the classroom. All I cared about was football. They came to me and showed me my grades and said my football career was in jeopardy. I was told it was up to me to get it done, and I did just that. Without the help of my mom and the school, I wouldn't be in this position today. I know there are a lot of talented athletes that never made it in life because they failed in the classroom. I was determined to not be like them. It finally clicked for me when I realized that I loved football so much and I couldn't let it be taken away. Now, I see the importance of all the things surrounding football. I know the importance of getting good grades, working out hard and being a good person. I know my mom is proud of the person I am today. I want to make sure she's just as proud of the person I will become as an adult. That means the world to me. I try to look at where I will be ten years from now. "
Like most incoming freshmen, Mobley is undecided about a major at Ohio State. There is one field that interests him, however.
"I'm really interested in the medical field that concerns the human body," Mobley stated. "I love sports so much that I'm interested in how people can get the most out of their bodies through proper muscle training. I like the field of kinesiology and how that relates to athletics. All athletes are into getting bigger, faster and stronger. I feel the more you learn about the body, the better athlete you can become. I'd like to work with people some day in making them better athletes. I'd like to do something to help people, and that field seems to come naturally to me. I will be enrolling at Ohio State on June 14th. I'm looking forward to starting college classes."
Mobley, like most incoming freshmen, is hoping to play right away at Ohio State, but he's not opposed to sitting out his first year, if that is best for the team.
"I'm hoping I play next year right off the bat," Mobley exclaimed. "That is my goal. I want to learn everything to be a successful player at Ohio State. If I have to red-shirt next year, then that's what I will do. They told me the best players play at Ohio State, regardless of how old you are, or what class you're in. if I have to sit out a year and learn from guys that are better than me, that's fine. I will just use that time to learn as much as I can from the coaches and the guys playing ahead of me. If I don't come in mentally prepared and physically ready to play, then it will show me what I need to do to get better. I know I don't have it made. I know I have a lot to learn, and that's why I'm coming to a place like Ohio State. I want to be the best, but I also want to play with the best. I know people question whether I can make it at Ohio State. That's what drives me. I feel my love of the game, the ability God gave me and my ability to take coaching will carry me to the top. I've never given up on a play in my life, and I will never give up on myself. I really want to prove to the Ohio State fans that I deserve to be a Buckeye."