CANTON, Ohio - Canton McKinley coach Brian Cross knows what it's like to be around greatness.
Cross just has to walk outside his office and down the hill not even a quarter mile to visit the NFL Hall of Fame. But he can also witness greatness by walking to the practice field where his star junior running back Morgan Williams reigns.
Williams, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior running back, has blown up this season and is quickly making a name not just locally but nationally. Through five games, Williams has rushed 58 times for 863 yards and 13 touchdowns. For those that aren't math majors that's 14.8 yards a carry against some of the best competition in the state of Ohio.
"He's not a guy that comes up and stops on a dime and changes direction and all that," Cross said. "He sets up his defender and puts a move on them. He's not a guy that's going to run sideways, stop, run sideways stop. He's a combination of a power runner and a slasher.
"He's a complete back. He has some of the best hands on our team. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and his blocking is improving each week. I think he's a big-time player, I really do. I think he can be really special."
College coaches already agree.
Morgan said he's been getting a lot of mail from Ohio State, Michigan Purdue and Boston College already. He's been to a game in Columbus and is looking forward to showing everybody that the state's top running back isn't Chris Wells over in Akron - it's Morgan Williams in Canton.
"I am the top back in the state," he said. "I have great God-given ability, and I'm confident in my skills. I know that my teammates will do whatever that they can to open the holes. It's my job to make the most of them."
Last week against an improved Austintown (Ohio) Fitch team, he had 222 yards rushing and scored on runs of 80 yards and 19 yards. His longest run from scrimmage is a 90-yard touchdown run, plus he's also brought back a punt and a kickoff return for a score. He's also a star basketball player and contributes quite a bit on the McKinley state championship team.
"He's not just a guy that's on the team, he's a player," Cross said. "So he does miss all that winter weight lifting to play basketball, and he does have a great love for basketball. So if there is one thing that he could use to improve upon is his strength. He's strong, but he's not nearly as strong as he needs to be to play big-time football.
"He's a great basketball player - a great high school basketball player - but my opinion is that his best future lies in football. There are some basketball people that think he's pretty good and can play at that level.
"We've talked about it, I think he knows that his future is in football, but you know we have so much success in basketball in McKinley that it's hard not to look at basketball. We're probably going to have five kids sign Division I basketball scholarships this year. But he's got a shot at being one of the nation's top football prospects and that's really appealing to him."
Cross said Morgan is also a good kid off the field.
"He's a real quiet kid - around coaches at least," Cross said. "When he gets around his buddies it's a different story. He's a good kid. He's a decent student. I think he's right around - he's not setting the world on fire - a 2.3, 2.4 student, so he if he keeps working he'll be fine. He's just a talented kid that has a shot at being something special."