Thursday, March 27, 2008

Husker LB Coach Mike Ekeler

Marc Hudgens of RealFootball365 interviews my fellow BHS alum and Husker LB coach Mike Ekeler. Beyond the usual questions about expectations at NU, the transistion from grad assistant to position coach, and the fact no one on the Pelini staff will "color" their view of the players by watching tape form last year's defense, he was asked to get specific about his new crop of four linebacking recruits, and had this to say about the young men:

"Q: So far you have four linebackers committed, the most in three years. This is a pretty large linebacker class.

EKELER: Yeah, no question. Alonzo Whaley, he's out of Houston, out of Madisonville, Texas; he's a guy we really, really like, and we really feel like he was one of . . . I don't know if I saw a better fullback in the last few years than Alonzo. So he's got an opportunity; he's such a versatile athlete that he could play a number of positions for us. So we'll have to see how that shakes out with him. I tell you what, he's a hammerhead now.

As far as the other ones . . . we're really, really, really happy, obviously, with our recruiting class. You know, Will Compton at a mike 'backer, the guy's 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, can run like a deer, is an all-state receiver as well, just tremendous athleticism, body control. Really, really a smart guy. He's about a three-nine student, already got fifteen hours of college credit, and the guy gets it. I mean absolutely gets it. I went in on a recruiting trip and the first time I met him, we started going over our defense and talking about adjustment and the questions he asked, I mean he asked what you wanted to hear. I mean he's just a sharp, sharp guy, and really, really, really excited to have the opportunity to coach him and to get him in our program.

And Sean Fisher, 6-5, 30 pounds right now, out of Millard North here in Omaha. He is a fantastic, fantastic athlete. Played running back in the state championship game, nearly carried his team to a state championship, played safety, and he can run. Again, another guy who can run like a deer.

And that's kind of the theme; that's kind of what we look to recruit, guys who are tremendous athletes, and guys who can just flat-out fly. Our whole defense, we're predicated on speed. And those guys, those two guys, those guys bring it right there. And Alonzo Whaley again, I touched on him earlier, he's a guy who is a tremendous athlete. Really, really good speed, really a physical, physical football player, and adds a lot of versatility to our team.

And then you have Micah Kreikemeier, out of West Point, Nebraska . . . I told Micah, it's kind of a funny story, told him that he put more pressure on me than any coach in the history of the game. Because if he doesn't turn out good, I'm probably going to lose my job. That was coach [Tom] Osborne's last . . . coach Osborne offered him right before we got here. And so, technically, he's coach Osborne's final recruit. And so, we're having fun with that, Micah and his parents and myself. I just keep on ribbing him on that, that he'd better bring your lunch pail because we got to get to work and get you ready to roll. We got to make coach Osborne right on his last recruit. But again you look at Sean Fisher, and Micah as well, they're two 4.0 students, actually greater than 4.0, and just fantastic, fantastic kids. Great character, these guys are going to come in and just work their tails off.

And then on top of that, we've got some guys who turned down major, major scholarships and walked on here. We got a number of guys who I'm just unbelievably fired up about. I can't comment on those guys right now due to NCAA rules, I guess I can comment on them, saying it in general terms, but I can't mention their names because technically they're still recruitable athletes until school starts and they're enrolled. But I'm telling you what, we just, Barney Cotton and Jeff Jamrog, our director of football operations, did a fantastic job of just scouring the state, and really, really, really happy."

Mike also answered questions about working with Tom Osborne, recruiting prospects, what gets him "revved up", the loudest stadium he's been in, what some of his favorite things are and what else he might like to do it he wasn't in coaching. Great interview.

Spring practice under Coach Pelini and the rest of the staff opened yesterday.

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