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All-Detroit: Damon Webb is latest Cass Tech DB phenom


12:00 AM, Dec. 04, 2013 EST

Cass Tech's Damon Webb, headed to Ohio State, intercepts a pass in the end zone against Macomb Dakota in the regional finals. Webb had seven interceptions and 54 tackles this season. / Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

Damon Webb played six games as a sophomore at U-D Jesuit before transferring to Detroit Cass Tech.

He met football coach Thomas Wilcher and announced he was a wide receiver.

"It was the only position I had ever played," said the senior bound for Ohio State. "I had been a receiver my whole life."

Wilcher looked at the young man and had a different plan.

"He says, 'I'm a wide receiver,' " Wilcher said. "I said, 'Great.' We started doing drills and stuff. I noticed his athleticism, how quick his feet were.

"I told him you might need to be a defensive back. I told him I had to teach him how to tackle first. I had to teach him how to move his feet.

"He was like, 'I'm a wide receiver.' I said, OK, but I told him if he learned how to do the defensive back drills, he'd be the best defensive back in the country because he had great feet."

Wilcher told him there were as many high school All-America defensive backs from Cass Tech than any position at the school. He could point to Dior Mathis, Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson and Jourdan Lewis, to name a few.

"I told him to just trust me," Wilcher said. "I told him he could be the next great defensive back."

Webb bought in, Ohio State noticed, and the rest is history, including a state championship Webb took part in a year ago and a tough loss to Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the Division 1 semifinal to end his high school career. He lost three games at Cass Tech.

Related: 2013 All-Detroit high school football teams

"When I got to Cass, Coach told me I was a defensive back," Webb said. "At first I was kind of hesitant because I had never played the position before. But as I was practicing and the coaches started coaching me up, it was the position for me."

Last season, Webb was a big part of the team's secondary along with Lewis, a senior headed to Michigan.

"Coach Wilcher instilled in me the will to win," Webb said. "Coming to Cass was a different culture. It was a winning environment, and everybody that was here was good, so we competed every day in practice and that just made you better."

Playing alongside Lewis, who also starred as a wide receiver, helped.

"Jourdan helped me a lot; going one-on-one against him and us competing every day in practice helped me a lot," Webb said. "Watching him during the drills made me want to be like him."

Facing the likes of King, East English Village and other top Detroit Public School League teams didn't hurt.

Being a receiver most of his life, Webb said it gave him an insight of what his opponents might be thinking while running a route.

"I feel like if I master my technique, it'll help me out a lot," he said. "I played receiver and know their tendencies."

■ MORE THAN YELLING: Wilcher has won 47 of his past 54 games and appeared in four straight state semifinals, winning two state titles. His formula has transformed talented players into championship teams.

He doesn't listen to anything he hears in the media, and he doesn't necessarily care about how he is perceived outside the Cass Tech family. He cares about his players and tries to mold young men.

"You can't read into what people are saying," Wilcher said. "You have to understand what you are doing. If you yell at a kid all the time, that's not coaching; you have to get a player to think about what he's doing out there. If a coach isn't trying to put himself into the child to make him develop and be the best player, then the child isn't going to be the best player.

"Therefore, I try to make sure my coaches give, and in order to give you have to put yourself in a position to receive. Just keep giving, keep giving."

 

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