COVID-19’s wrath took a slight toll on Caleb Webb’s spring. It was OK, maybe slightly less than OK, but with a what-if left behind.
In spite of no spring football and the window of opportunity at the high school level for college coaches to normally visit and evaluate prospects, the Muskogee senior did get three of his four current college offers when coaches were restricted to calls and online communications.
Southwestern Oklahoma, Arkansas State and Weber State all extended those to him, joining Texas-San Antonio, which made its offer prior to all school activities shutting down.
But, what if there had been spring football?
“It did frustrate me,” Webb said. “At this point, I’ll try to show my film and work hard on Friday nights.”
That’s one motivation to excel, but not even the primary one for the 5-11, 200 pound two-time All-Phoenix linebacker who last year was selected Large School Defensive Player of the Year. It goes beyond even team success.
His grandfather, Dwight “Terry” Webb, died in 2014 and won’t get to watch the best years of his grandson’s journey. Caleb wants him to somehow look down on a football future that’s not even close to done.
“His memory motivates me,” he said. “I want to make him, my grandma and parents proud.”
COVID-19 had its own impact on his dad, Terrell, whose work as a college baseball umpire was wiped out by the pandemic, leaving him to scramble for specialty tournaments across the country.
“As much as it messed up my spring, (my dad) would probably say it impacted him more, but I think it was me,” Caleb said with a grin.
During the downtime, Caleb went to the house of his younger brother’s coach in the Indian Nations youth league and lifted there.
All this time, another senior teammate, Ty Williams, has been on the radar of a plethora of Division I teams and recently committed to Oklahoma State. Offers came his way through the COVID shutdown minus seeing him in person.
In those situations, teammates might get a trickle-down look, or an impression for coaches to pass on to colleagues.
While Webb will continue to make an impression week in, week out, he’ll get motivation from Williams.
“Me and Ty, we’re always working to push each other hard. We’ll get on each other’s butt if we mess up, but in the end, we’re out to be the best we can be,” Webb said.
Travis Hill, back on staff as defensive coordinator after three seasons at Broken Arrow, remembers Webb as a middle schooler before Hill left in the spring of 2017.
“It was fun to watch him from his eighth grade year to where his now as far as developing physically and everything else,” Hill said. “He’s a huge asset. It’s his senior year and he’s going to be one of the leaders whether he wants to be or not.
“That’s the role he’s thrown into because of his ability on the field. He’s been here every day, he’s worked hard, he’s been a positive aspect for the younger kids. He’s growing into his part and fitting the role.”
And again, that won’t be limited to outside linebacker, which converts into a roll down safety or defensive end, depending on the scheme. He’ll again be in the rotation at fullback with Darian Davis and could find himself at tailback.
But at the next level, its all about defense.
Webb recognizes the need for some extra good weight to get to an ideal prototype for Division I linebackers. He’s basically been around 190 to 200 since his sophomore season. But there’s something else to him that added bulk can’t bring.
“Those natural instincts — that makes him special,” Hill said. “It’s not anything you can coach. It’s a kid who understands the game and where the ball is going and understands his body well enough to make plays without sometimes, to be honest with you, doing the right thing.”
Within the 244 tackles and 19 sacks over two years, there’s some corrections to be made.
“I don’t want to miss any tackles I should get,” he said.