North Mesquite High School
NR: 8 SR: 6 Star Rating: *****
An Inside Texas conversation with North Mesquite head coach Steve Bragg on J'Marcus Webb:
IT: What are J'Marcus’s strengths as a football player?
Bragg: J'Marcus is an athlete. For a large young guy, he moves particularly well. He's got something you can't teach, and that's height. He's got that frame. He's six-foot-seven, six-foot-eight, and he's just now beginning to fill out. This time his junior season, he weighed about 245-250 pounds. I believe right now he's about 275, so he's just now beginning to fill out. He'll carry 300 and still look really, really athletic. He runs really, really well. He's got really good feet. He's very developed as a pass protection guy. The thing that we really concentrated on this last year was being more physical as a run blocker and I think if you're going to be successful at Texas that ultimately he is going to have to get better at but it will as he gets stronger because he's still young. He's just turned 17. He's going to graduate as a 17-year old senior. He will be more physically mature in the next couple of years.
IT: Walking in here, and I knew this previously from a story we had written on him, but his feet...
Bragg: Size 22.
IT: That's amazing!
Bragg: We couldn't get shoes for him. We could get a size 20 was as large as we could get. His mom would try to shop at big and tall shops.
IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about J'Marcus?
Bragg: I think he's a big-framed kid that is athletic and there's a lot of untapped potential. He's only been an offensive lineman two years. He was a tight end when we were in a more run-based offense and then a couple of years ago we started putting in the Texas Tech stuff so we didn't really have a tight end in our offense so we moved J'Marcus to tackle and he's very athletic for that. And that's the thing that I think was most appealing to all the schools that came through here. The height, and he's an athlete.
IT: One of the things that coach McWhorter really looks for is that athleticism and the feet. You touched on that a little bit, but can you expound on it a little bit, particularly his feet.
Bragg: He was very uncoordinated his freshman season, his sophomore season. He was a real tall kid whose athletic ability had not caught up with that body. He had grown a lot, maybe too quickly, and he was kinda just awkward. We spend a lot of time in our off-season program jumping rope, running rope, doing a lot of feet stuff, and I think that combined with that he started catching up, his body started developing. His feet improved. But he hears a couple of hundred times a day in practice, Feet! That's a big thing to me because I'm not only the head coach, I'm the offensive line coach so we spend an inordinate amount of time developing and making sure our offensive linemen have really good feet.
IT: Did he play left or right for you guys?
Bragg: Right. Ya know, he's the prototypical left tackle but because there are some things we do, I wanted him on the right side. I had another kid that was going to be a sophomore that was actually an all-district kid as well, played our left tackle. But I think J'Marcus is the prototypical left tackle.
IT: Where do you foresee him playing at Texas?
Bragg: I think he'll flip (to left tackle) at Texas.
IT: What are the things you think J'Marcus needs to work on to succeed at the next level?
Bragg: I think No. 1 is strength. He's going to have to get stronger. And he knows that. He's very, very aware of that. He's very realistic about what his strengths and weaknesses are. I don't think he considers himself to be God's gift to football by any stretch. He knows he's got areas that he needs to get better at and he knows strength is No. 1 on the list. And if you're ultimately going to be one of the guys at Texas, you better be good at run blocking. That's where you win, being able to run the football and he's going to have to develop as more of a run blocker. I think that's gonna come with the strength, but the kid has really good feet and he is athletic, he is very coachable, so I think all that will come. And he's a very intelligent young guy too. Learning the scheme, I don't think he'll have any problem with that. A very intelligent kid.
IT: What's he working on right now?
Bragg: Up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, J'Marcus had still gone through our off-season program. He was down here every day, in the weight room and doing the outside program. He had done all that, and then he got sick. He felt horrible down in San Antonio....
IT: And he still performed well...
Bragg: He played really well. He played every play but three.
IT: And during the week, our people down there said he looked really good in practice...
Bragg: Right. He got an inner ear infection and was real congested and he's just now kind of on the backside of that, and I think he'll get back to work Monday (Jan. 23). He'll help me in the spring out here. We're going to be real young up front on our varsity. I've got a bunch of kids that are going to be sophomores that we're trying to make linemen and I'm going to let him help me in the spring, keep him close to it, keep him connected. And he'll continue to lift. Three days a week he's power lifting too. We have a power lifting team and they work out at 6 a.m. three days a week and he's in the weight room doing that at 6 a.m. I don't think he'll lift at any meets. He's really doing it six times a week. He lifts twice a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
IT: On the offensive line, the center position is often called upon to provide the leadership. And it sounds like you're going to effectively use him as a coach. Is that indicative that J'Marcus has leadership ability?
Bragg: Yeah, I think it's really just developed this last year. He's a pretty quiet kid, to be real honest. When you start talking to him, you'll see that. He's not real loud. He's a more lead-by-example guy. He's here every day. He works his tail off every day. What you tell him it better be right because he's going to do it exactly the way you tell him to do it. He's a very coachable guy. But really, as a leader, he's really developed here in the last year and that's one of the areas of growth that I've really seen in him. And especially towards the end of the season and in this off-season, he's been really good about hanging around here and helping our young players. After off-season, he'll gather up some of those young linemen he knows need to play for us. He'll take 'em out there, they're out there jumping rope, running ropes, and he's been kind of like a father figure for those young kids, which I would have never guessed it would have been like that. He's been really, really good.
IT: So that's been something that's recently developed?
Bragg: Yeah, and it's something I didn't tell him to do. He's just done it.
IT: Which makes it more impressive.
Bragg: Yeah, it really does. To be honest, most of these kids after they commit, you might see 'em occasionally around the weight room. A lot of times, their attitude is, I've got mine. But I tell you, J'Marcus is working as hard as he's ever worked in his life.
IT: I heard from another coach today the same thing, that when a lot of kids commit, they coast. He said it was really interesting, committing to Texas, and the quality of the program, and the quality of the people, it had an opposite effect. It made them work even harder. Is that what you've seen in J'Marcus.
Bragg: Yeah, I think so. Any time you're around excellence like that, you know how competitive it is going to be, and you don't want to be the weak link. And I think that kind of permeates through everything that is Texas, an excellence. It has an aura right now about it. And I think that's a unique observation, but I think it's very true.
IT: Did he play any other sports?
Bragg: He played basketball as a freshman and a sophomore and kinda decided that he was a very average basketball player and decided (football) was where he was going to excel at. And if you're a big tackle, that's the top position at every level. And he was going to be a real average big guy in basketball but he can be a really good offensive lineman.
IT: All true freshmen offensive linemen at Texas over the last five or six year, save one, have redshirted. Is that the expectation going in for J'Marcus.
Bragg: Oh yeah. I think that's the best thing for him because he's gotta get stronger. That'll give him a chance, one, to get used to The University of Texas. The level of football is going to be so much greater. You're going into the top Division-I program in the nation, very competitive, and he's got to get stronger and that'll let him get his feet wet and figure out what it is all about. And it will give him a chance to be more competitive physically.
IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies J'Marcus's ability as a football player?
Bragg: Probably was just his junior year in general. We're in a new offense and we're all kind of learning it together, and he's playing a position he's never played, and he just had a monster year his junior year. And to really see him develop as a football player his junior year was the big thing. Again, watching his steady development. I don't know if there's just any one game or one play or anything like that, it's just been a gradual thing with him. We preach to the kids, Get better every day, and that adds up to great growth. He is the poster child for that. If you would have seen the kid as a sophomore playing junior varsity football, you never would have thought that that kid was going to wind up at The University of Texas. [Laughing] He couldn't walk and chew gum. And to watch his physical development and to see him develop as a football player has been fun. I think it's just been day to day, those little improvements have made a big difference.
IT: What did J'Marcus mean to your football program?
Bragg: I think he was a just a consistent presence, a stabilizing factor on our team when we had a lot of injuries. We had a lot of things go on within the team, and I just think J'Marcus was just a real stabilizing factor. Kids know he's going to be here every day, work hard every day, play at a high level every game, and when it gets to a storm it's good to have that presence. And for a coach, when you know you've got that type of kid that is involved in your program, and you're not going to have to worry about him -- it's been fun for me to watch his growth as a person and as a player, like I was talking about with the leadership stuff lately. And as a coach, that's what you want to see, kids develop to be good people and better people, and I can honestly say that he has. He's a kid that everybody likes. He's got that personality about him where he's friends with everybody. He was a real important part of our team.
IT: What about off the field?
Bragg: Just a great young guy. He's a real personable kid. Gets along with everybody. He's a real eclectic kid. He listens to a lot of different types of music, he's got a lot of different friends, a lot of friends that aren't football players. He's a very unique young guy.
IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about J'Marcus that we didn't already cover?
Bragg: I think y'all will enjoy watching him develop as a player. I think he'll be one of those guys who could be very similar to Jonathan Scott. He came in, had a big frame but needed to get stronger and I think J'Marcus is going to be very similar to that type of player. But I think he'll be a guy that will always represent The University very well. And he knows what he needs to do. He's not under any deal that somebody owes him something. He's very thankful that he's getting the chance to play for coach Brown and coach McWhorter and to be a part of The University of Texas.
UT's Signing Day bio: A Parade All-American and a two-time all-state selection who was considered to be one of the top prep pass protecting prospects … was a tight end before moving to offensive lineman after his sophomore season … only allowed three sacks in 472 pass attempts (one sack per 157.3 pass attempts) during his two seasons as an offensive lineman … voted first-team all-state by The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior … named Texas' top offensive lineman by 5A Texas Football … selected to Dave Campbell's Super Team first team in the preseason … earned first-team all-district (12-5A) and Dallas Morning News all-area honors … his team averaged 6.7 yards per rush that year … earned second-team all-state honors from The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association as a junior … earned first-team all-district (12-5A) and Dallas Morning News all-area honors that year … also competed in the discus and shot put in track and field … helped in the community by volunteering with toy drives and the distribution of presents … wears a size 22 sneaker … enjoys cooking … full name is J'Marcus L. Webb … born on Aug. 8, 1988 in Ft. Worth, Texas.
"I chose Texas mainly because of the coaches. It seems easy to build a relationship with them and I just thought everyone I talked to was awesome. My visit only confirmed all of those thoughts and I especially liked meeting Mad Dog (AD for strength and conditioning Jeff Madden) and I look forward to getting a chance to work with him."
DUSTIN EARNEST (Tuesday)
BRITT MITCHELL (Wednesday)
EDDIE JONES (Thursday)
VONDRELL MCGEE (Friday)