No. 11: Sebastian Willer
Defensive end/offensive lineman
Calhoun High School
CALHOUN, Ga. — More than one visitor to Calhoun High School football practices this summer has asked about the "new big kid" dominating on the defensive line.
"Is he a transfer?" they ask each other. "Where did he come from?" others chime in.
The talk makes Sebastian Willer smile, and the senior understands it. After all, in a lot of ways, he is "new." Willer and his family moved to Calhoun from Germany before last season, and though he was a member of the Yellow Jackets' Class AA state championship team, he played sparingly on the defensive line as a 215-pound end.
A pep talk from coach Hal Lamb at last season's conclusion changed everything.
Lamb told Willer that, with the entire defensive line graduating, an opportunity was there if he wanted to work hard enough to take advantage of it. Willer hit the weight room. He started eating better -- and a lot more.
The transformation was stunning. Willer now packs 265 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame, and he said he's actually become quicker.
"I feel great about it," he said, smiling. "Being bigger makes it so much easier to block or crush somebody. Coach Lamb said I needed to step up, so I worked out twice a day, ate right and all that. I put on 45-50 pounds and I got faster."
He's also gotten some attention from college recruiters, who rarely spend time on seniors who have yet to start a game.
"He's getting some looks, and the people at Middle [Tennessee State] really like him," Lamb said. "He's worked hard and he's got a chance. That's all you can ask for. He's a strong kid and he's a quick learner. He's catching up to the speed of the game, but he's got good instincts."
Willer also has overcome more than a limited football background. He broke his wrist two years ago but kept playing and damaged it to the point where a bone had to be taken from his hip to stabilize it.
"I really messed it up," Willer said, "but it's all good now. I just didn't want to stop playing."
He acknowledged that the game is different here than in his homeland, but the challenge of proving he belongs is great motivation — along with making sure college recruiters can't ignore him.
"Football is so much faster here and more physical. I love it," he said. "My dream is to play college ball. Coach Lamb has talked to a lot of people about me. I've gone to camp at Middle Tennessee. Tennessee has looked at me during the spring. I don't have much film from last year, so these first few games are very important. I can't wait to get started. It's going to be awesome."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...