COLUMBUS, Ohio — He won’t technically count as an in-state recruit for Ohio State, but Marcus Williamson will have Ohioans wishing he could.
The 4-star cornerback out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy spent his first three years of high school at Westerville (Ohio) South. He transferred to the elite program in January 2016, nine months after committing to Ohio State. He found plenty of success, returning an interception for a touchdown and recovering two fumbles in 10 games with the Ascenders.
At 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, Williamson is used to going up against receivers with bigger frames. He handles them just fine, as his recruiting rankings (No. 16 cornerback and No. 141 overall, according to the 247 Sports composite rankings) would indicate. How has he managed to do that? Land of 10 caught up with IMG coach Kevin Wright to discuss Williamson’s success.
Q: What does he do well both on and off the field?
Wright: “There are three things that make Marcus a really good corner. Number one, you’ve got to be able to run and he runs really well. He’s got to be able to turn his hips and run, and he does that. And then he’s got to be able to compete. All those things combined are why he’s able to play at such a high level. He makes up for some lack of size with speed and agility. He also has really good ball skills.
“On top of that, he’s taking high-level classes and is a tremendous student. He’s an honors and AP (Advanced Placement) kid with the classes he takes. He’s smart. It takes a different guy to play corner because you’re out there on an island. He’s very competitive. That’s the type of guy you want out there.”
Q: Did it take him time to develop ways to compensate for being a little smaller?
Wright: “A little bit. Our receivers are all 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-3. With our outside receivers, we had three guys who were big, tall, rangy guys. I don’t know that he had a huge learning curve. He’s a lot like Isaiah (Pryor) in that he thrives on competition. As much as anything, for our guys it’s more about adjusting to the speed you see every day in practice and then week in and week out on the field from opposing teams. That’s where the learning curve comes, especially when you’re playing at corner. If you’re not perfect, they can run by you.
“He’s such a competitor. The better the opponent, the better he plays. He spent every day competing against some great athletes. Practice at our place is very collegiate-like with the guys you have to go up against. You can’t be lazy. You have to be a competitor. He picked up on that very quickly.”
Q: How did he adjust to being away from home?
Wright: “It doesn’t matter if you’re eight hours away from home like Isaiah or 15 or 16 hours away like Marcus. It’s a lot like college. You’re not going home during the season in the fall. There’s an adjustment period for everybody, but Marcus was really smooth. He had no hiccups whatsoever from the time he walked onto campus to the time he graduated.
“The big thing in our place is time management. It’s basically school, work out, practice and then go back and do your homework. He adjusted from the get-go and never had any issues. It’s a big advantage for the guys that are able to come do that because it helps them at the next level.”
Q: What do Ohio State fans need to know about him before he enrolls?
Wright: “He’s a quiet guy for the most part. He smiles a lot. When he does say things, people listen. He’s very cerebral, but he’s not a big talker. His personality started to come out more and more the longer he was here. He’s got a big heart. You can count on him.
“He’s very smart in a lot of realms of life. He has a lot of different interests besides football, and that sets him apart as well.”