Ware's Speed is the Difference

CLEMSON, S.C. – When you're a coach with a Division I football team, players come and go by the busloads. But to listen to Vic Koenning discuss Dallas Cowboys first overall draft pick Demarcus Ware, it's easy to hear the love and admiration he has for his former player.

Koenning, now the defensive coordinator at Clemson University, held that same position at Troy University, where he also served as Ware's linebacker's coach the last two years.

During those two seasons at the small school in Alabama, Koenning developed the kind of relationship with his star player that goes beyond the normal coach-player bond. There is a true fondness for one another.

And because he knows him so well, Koenning truly believes Dallas loyalists will quickly feel the same toward Ware as he does.

"I think the Cowboy fans will fall in love with him," Koenning said. "I just think they'll really get to know him and understand what type of person he is away from the football field. The NFL is full of Demarcus Wares in the respect of talent. But he has so much speed that he's a guy that will jump out.

"I don't know how they're going to use him, but if they use him as a pass rusher then I think he's a guy that will quickly jump out and he'll become a fan favorite because of his personality. He only knows one speed. He never takes a play off. He's constantly flying around."

Koenning first stepped foot on the Troy campus after serving as head coach at the University of Wyoming, it didn't take long for the veteran coach to take notice of Ware, who was a rising junior at the time.

"The first thing I noticed and focused in on was Demarcus and his speed and power," Koenning said. "You could see that he was a special player. He was doing amazing stuff. The thing that stood out about Demarcus was not only was he built and was as talented as anybody else, but his leadership skills made you take notice. Everybody respected him as a leader and followed him."

As good as Ware turned out to be as a defensive player, it almost didn't happen. The position he concentrated on and played the most while at Auburn High in Alabama, was at wide receiver. He only played defense sparingly.

But the coaches at Troy had the foresight to move him to the other side of the ball on a permanent basis.

"The thing about Demarcus is that he's worked so hard and it's so important to him that he made the best of his opportunity," Koenning said. "He does have great, God-given ability, but he also works so hard.

"He was one of those guys that tried hard and worked hard and did excel because he didn't take things for granted. That's the shame of things that we see in our profession. Kids come in all the time with some intelligence and some ability and just take things for granted and they never get better. And that's one thing that you can never say about Demarcus."

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