While working on Thursday’s article on Lardarius Webb, I talked to the Ravens cornerback’s coach at Nicholls State. Jeremy Atwell was the linebackers coach for the Colonels before getting promoted to defensive coordinator during Webb’s senior year in 2008.
Atwell, who is still the defensive coordinator there, said Webb’s popularity has grown to the point where among Atwell’s current players, Webb is more popular than New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“I think if they had to choose between Drew Brees and Lardarius Webb coming to visit, I think more people would want to see Lardarius,” Atwell said. “… He comes back, and if you didn’t know who he was, you wouldn’t know that he’s a potential All-Pro cornerback. He came down to our spring game a couple weeks before his camp, and I heard somebody behind me on the sideline say, ‘Hey, Coach, lemme make a call.’ I knew the voice instantly. It was raining cats and dogs, but he was just standing out there with us in the rain like he’s a player. He was talking trash and having fun at practice.”
Webb laughed when told of Atwell’s comment and said he thinks his former coach was exaggerating.
“Drew in Louisiana is like Obama to the United States,” Webb said. “They love him. Seriously, they love Brees, and for [Atwell] to say that, thank you.”
Atwell said he thinks Webb is the only Nicholls State player to have his jersey sold at the local Wal-Mart during his playing days there. Atwell said fans ranging from small children to middle-aged adults would wait for Webb after games to get their pictures taken with him while wearing Webb’s No. 20 jersey.
“He was just a good student, a good person,” Atwell said. “He was always humble and never felt like he was better than Nicholls State or better than somebody else. I think people remember that and when he comes home, people are dying to see him.”
As mind-blowing as that was for Webb, he said those fans did him a favor by keeping him grounded.
“It kind of helped me out coming to this level,” he said. “I was respected on a level where I had to hold myself accountable for a lot of things. I had to be responsible. My name was bigger. So I had to stay out of trouble, keep a clean name, a good reputation. So when I got to the NFL, I started getting pub and jerseys, and that kind of kept me humble because I already did that. I’ve been used to it, and I got used to having that name. When I became a little star here, it kind of kept me in my place, knowing that I’m still Lardarius. I’m not great. I’m not Ed [Reed], I’m not Joe [Flacco]. Just stay in your lane. I just want to stay in my respective lane behind Ray [Lewis], Ed, Haloti [Ngata], Terrell [Suggs], all those guys.”