Senior TB Willie Hurst – He's Gr-r-reat!

Can you believe that tailback Willie Hurst is already a senior? How on earth did that happen? It seems like just yesterday when Dick Baird was able to coax a verbal out of the star tailback/point guard from Compton-Dominguez High School. Now he's a tri-captain.

Moving from Carson, California, Hurst finds the more laid back atmosphere of Seattle to his liking. "It's a lot more peaceful. Dealing with the hustle and bustle of LA, it is so fast-paced, sometimes you just want to relax and sit back. I've come up here and learned to enjoy nature. A nice day for me would just be sitting on the lake. I can sit at the lake now and just be there all day. If you would have asked me about that five years ago, I would have answered, ‘No, what would you want to sit on a lake for?!' said Hurst.

However, his heart will always have a home down south. "There are a lot of things I like up here. I think I could possibly have a home up here, but I am always going to go home to LA."

Hurst has earned the respect of his teammates and definitely is one of their leaders. When his team went to Berkeley to take on Cal in their first away game of the season, Hurst remained home because of a tweaked hamstring. It was a very painful thing to endure for the senior captain of the offense. "For me to miss a game, there has to really be something wrong. The trainers held me out for precautionary reasons," said a frustrated Hurst, who agreed to the prescription for rest but didn't particularly care for it.

"I had to listen to the game on the radio. That was probably the worst thing I have ever done in my life. I listened to Bob Rondeau. He's very exciting. But it is one thing to see it on television and another thing to listen to it on the radio. I would just hear things and be thinking, ‘What is going on?' I can't see what is going on!'"

So Willie, never wanting to be too far from the action, couldn't stand just sitting by his radio.

"I actually called Jafar Williams on his cell phone. He was on the sidelines. I was getting updates from him as to what was going on. I was trying to do a little coaching myself from home over the cell phone. I was just asking him, ‘What's going on with Rich? What's going on with the line?' He was letting me know of some things here and there. But, he's not an offensive player, so it was kind of hard. I needed to get an offensive player on the phone," laughed Hurst.

Hurst was able to play in the next game against USC, his hometown team, and scored on a 14-yard screen pass. It was a particularly meaningful score as his father Willie Sr. was in the crowd celebrating his birthday. "That was my birthday present to him. I knew he was coming up for the game and luckily his birthday fell right on the day of the game. I talked to my older brother and he was like, ‘you know you have to get dad one for his birthday.' So the game started to go on and I hadn't reached the end zone and I thought ‘Oh My God … I've got to get into the end zone!'"

Then came the perfectly designed screen for #8, who took it to the house.

Still, the elder Hurst, always the coach, had some words of wisdom. "He kind of got mad at me for diving into the end zone because he doesn't like me to jump in the game. But I told him, ‘Dad, I had to get you one.' So I guess I gave him a good birthday gift," said Hurst with a grin.

If you go to the Hurst residence for dinner, you'll find that Willie knows his way around the kitchen pretty well. "I cook just about anything I want to eat. I try to dabble in the kitchen a little bit. Sometimes, I have my mom send me some recipes from home. I would have to say my best dish is Chicken Parmesan," said Hurst.

His favorite meal, or food for that matter, requires no skillets, pans, or even heat. A bowl, some ice-cold milk, and a spoon are the necessary ingredients.

"My favorite food is cereal. Frosted Flakes is my absolute favorite, but I also eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Honestly, my dad got me hooked on Frosted Flakes because that is his favorite cereal. It was always in the house and I just like to eat it," said Hurst. He will admit that soul food and Italian food rank right up there, "But cereal is the top!"

Exactly how many bowls a day does it take to fill him up?

"Honestly, if I am not careful, I can probably go through a box a day –easily. Sometimes, I just have to put them away because I will sit there and just pour bowl after bowl. Or any time I get hungry, it is a quick and easy snack, so I can easily go through a box a day. I can eat it for every meal, sometimes in between meals. When I am just sitting there watching a movie, I will pour a bowl. I get myself in trouble by eating a whole box a day."

For the record, Tony the Tiger is not his hero, and Willie also claims that there is no connection between bowls eaten and yards gained.
Frustrating His Opponents

Hurst enjoys a good game of Sony Playstation, particularly NCAA College Football. "I beat Omare (Lowe) the other day. He can never beat me. He wouldn't tell you that though," said Hurst with his trademark smile.

"Omare – when it comes to video games – has a bit of a temper. He has socked a hole in the wall before. I've seen him break his own controller before because he lost in a game. I make him quite frustrated."

Hurst quickly figured out that Sony is big on the Longhorns, so he takes full advantage when he can. "My Playstation team is Texas. The video game rates the players on how good they think they are. They may like some teams way better than what they really are. Texas is one of the better teams on there. I am not a Longhorn fan, it is just for video-game purposes."
The Patented Spin Move

Hurst has a slashing style of running, and is able to cutback across the grain where he can use his excellent vision and instincts to find his way up field. "I try to see a lot of things other runners can't. I try to use moves to get myself open. I am not that big so I can't try to be a bruiser back or try to run over everybody, so I try to use moves to get around people. And every once in a while, I will surprise them and try to run them over."

Willie has another surprise up his sleeve when would-be tacklers draw a bead on him. Just ask Arizona's Joe Tafoya, who saw it first-hand when he hit Hurst only to see him spin, put his hand down on the turf to keep his balance, and continue the final 15 yards to the end zone to score a crucial 4th quarter touchdown against the Wildcats last year in one of the most memorable runs in Husky Stadium history.

"My favorite move would have to be the ‘spin.' Anybody could tell you that. I set them up with a juke and then spin on them. I've been using it for a while. The coaches had cut it out of my repertoire my sophomore year. But it's back, so hopefully it will work for me," said Hurst.

Willie hasn't always been so successful with the ‘spin' move. It has taken quite some time to perfect.

"I use it in moderation now. When I first got here, it was my favorite move. Every time somebody would come by, I would try to spin on them. It got me in a lot of trouble sometimes. But now, I pick and choose when I use it. I make sure there is a lot more open field when I use it because I was using it in situations where I was barely past the line of scrimmage and I was spinning. That almost got me knocked down a couple of times."

Willie began trying his spin move during his Pop Warner days. "I have one tape where I was about ten. I used it then, and it worked. I ran up behind my linemen, and a couple of guys were pushing through, but I spun off my lineman, and ran for a touchdown."

Growing up in California, the desire to play football struck at a very early age.

"I used to always play for fun in my yard, with all my friends. I would come in with bloody noses and ripped shirts. Finally, my dad asked one summer, ‘Do you want to play for a team?' I said, ‘Yah!'"

Willie has been the starting tailback for every team he has played on since his great football career started at age eight. "I was pretty fast and the coach asked me, ‘Can you run a sweep?' I asked him, ‘What's a sweep?' He told me to get behind the quarterback and run like a rainbow to the right. I said ‘okay' and caught the ball. The rest is history."

Hurst is still running rainbows, but they now have a hint of tornado mixed in. Top Stories