By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer
Cory Huff doesn’t talk a lot, but he lets his actions do his talking for him, and that’s just fine with Nimitz High School head coach Richard Slater.
Huff, a junior, was perhaps the Cougars’ best defensive player during the 2021 season that saw Nimitz earn its first playoff berth in six years.
The 5-11, 185-pounder recorded 55 solo tackles, 21 assists (76 total tackles, an average of 7.6 per game), had one tackle for loss, intercepted three passes, broke up 20 passes and forced one fumble.
Those numbers earned him the Northeast News’ Defensive Player of the Year honors.
And the good news for Slater and his staff is that Huff has a year left to improve his game and to produce even bigger numbers.
Slater isn’t the only one who thinks his safety is a pretty special player. Colleges also have taken notice of the hard-hitting, and fast safety. Huff has garnered interest from Baylor, Colorado, the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), Illinois and Utah. If he has a big senior season, Slater believes he could be sought by other schools as well. Slater said Huff has the tools to play at the next level.
“He’s a down hill player,” Slater said. “He knocks people back when he hits them. He’s a thumper.” Huff has started in the Nimitz secondary since he was a sophomore and is dedicated to his craft.
“Cory really got better as we worked through COVID,” Slater said. “He was here everyday working in the weight room. He’s a hard worker and a student of the game. Football is very important to him.”
Huff also has good speed — Slater says he’s “super fast” — and that could be because he also runs track and plays basketball. Huff is definitely a good athlete.
In the Cougars’ 38-31 win over Eisenhower, Huff had perhaps his best game of the season with 10 solo tackles and four assists. He did a good job of containing one of the District 14-6A’s best offensive players in Ike wide receiver Ryan Niblett, the 2020 Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year.
“He shut Niblett down, and that’s saying something. Cory ran with him all night and went toe-to-toe with him.”
While he isn’t the most vocal player on the team, Slater said he expects Huff to be one of the team leaders his senior year.
“Cory is a smart kid, and he picked up our defense really well as a sophomore,” Slater said. “He will be a team leader for us next year. He doesn’t talk a lot and he leads by how he plays.”
And that says it all!