Scouts in the NFL look like geniuses when they find the “hidden gem” that turns into a great player. Of course, former Huskies standout Jahri Evans, a multi-year NFL All-Pro, is a prime example. But a name that has quickly popped up on draft boards around the NFL as the next possible “hidden gem” is Larry Webster.
Huskies fans know the 6-foot, 7-inch Webster as a dominant force who helped take the men’s basketball team to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoffs. He ended his career as the 2011-12 PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year while scoring more than 1,000 points and blocking a school-record 175 shots.
After his basketball-playing days were over, Webster realized he had one year of athletic eligibility left. So the son of former NFL and Super Bowl champ Larry Webster II decided to return to football, a sport he hadn’t played since his senior year in high school.
In just 13 games, Webster went from “Who’s that?” to “Who’s that!” He made 39 tackles, including a school-record 13.5 sacks and had one pass interception. He also scored three touchdowns, two of them receiving and one a blocked punt he took in for a score. In addition, Webster caught a two-point conversion for a total of 20 points.
“Playing football has always been on my mind, ever since I got to Bloomsburg,” says the soft-spoken Webster. “But the time commitment to do both would have been too much. Once I finished basketball I went to Coach Paul Darragh (BU’s defensive coordinator) and told him I was ready to give it a shot.
“The toughest part of my going back on the field was the getting used to the contact,” says Webster. “After that, it was the speed and learning all the plays. The fact that the NFL is now interested is amazing.”
Bloomsburg Head Coach Danny Hale is thrilled that Webster decided to give football another try. “At first we thought it was a joke,” Hale says. “When we realized he was serious, he quickly showed us how good he could be.
“Larry is also very coachable and picked things up quickly,” adds Hale. “When NFL scouts heard of his time in the 40 (4.5 seconds), their interest in him took off. Nearly every team has been in to see him.”
Webster, who was named first-team All-PSAC East, now has a big decision to make. He can attend classes part-time and come back for one more season of football in 2013 or he can dabble in a third sport — track and field — as a high jumper.
While Huskies fans await Webster’s decision, NFL scouts have taken notice. The outcome remains to be seen. •