A few years ago, current UW-Whitewater head football coach Kevin Bullis sat in the stands of his son’s high school football game. The younger Bullis was the Whitewater High quarterback, and the Whippets were playing against Delavan-Darien.
It was a day of conflicting emotions for Bullis, then a Warhawks assistant.
“I was there to watch my son play for the Whippets. This kid intercepted my son’s pass and nobody touched him on the return,” Bullis said. “He was the most athletic, fastest guy on the field and I was like, ‘Woah.’”
Today, that head-turning player is on Bullis’ sideline, with the Warhawks set to host Platteville in a 1 p.m. Homecoming game at Perkins Stadium.
After being recruited to UW-Whitewater, Marcus Hudson—the Delavan-Darien player in Bullis’ tale—broke his ankle and missed his entire freshman season before taking his sophomore year off. He rejoined the Warhawks for the 2014 season.
“It just didn’t feel right,” Hudson said of taking a break from the sport. “Football is a big part of my life, and not playing had to change.”
Hudson, now a veteran leader for the Warhawks, has hit his stride the last two weeks.
He helped the Warhawks to a 21-7 win over UW-River Falls on Oct. 21, making nine catches for 173 yards and two scores. Last weekend, he led the Warhawks with four catches for 124 yards and a receiving touchdown in a victory over Stevens Point. He also added a touchdown on the ground.
Hudson sits tenth in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with 501 all-purpose yards.
“Things really started coming together for Marcus against River Falls,” Bullis said. “One of our objectives was to move him around and get him some different looks between the slot, backfield, and the X and Z spots.”
Hudson said his recent success is a result of game-planning and route-running.
“We knew going into the last couple weeks that both teams were going to try and stop our run game and play man versus man on us receivers, and for any receiver man coverage is our favorite,” he said.
A big target at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Hudson takes a lot of pride in his route-running.
“Taking my time against the defender and using my route-running to get open has really paid off. I am not the fastest receiver, but my route running is very crisp,” he said.
Hudson leads the Warhawks in multiple categories including receiving yards (455) and touchdowns (5). He is second in receptions with 21 in just six games played, but none of this success comes as a surprise to his coach.
“A lot of receivers are pigeon-holed as either a bubble, horizontal, or vertical guy, but he really is the whole package,” Bullis said.
“He really can play anywhere or get the ball on a jet sweep. His intelligence and all-around athleticism set him apart from other receivers, and he has the ability to catch the ball with people hanging on him. He is so competitive and so concentrated. It’s the perfect combo for a receiver.”
Hudson’s former high school coach, Steve Tenhagen, also mentioned how rare it is to find a guy with such intangibles.
“We definitely found out early in his senior season that he had the size, strength and speed combination that was unique,” said Tenhagen, now the head coach at Burlington. “I fully expected him to have these seasons in college.
“Any time you have a kid that you can throw the ball to him on third down every time, and trust that if the ball is anywhere near him, then he is going to catch it, that is how you know he is special.”
A lot has happened to Hudson since Bullis sat in the stands watching Marcus intercept his son.
The senior receiver in enjoying every minute.
“Being close to home is great,” Hudson said. “I’m a huge mama’s boy, so it is nice to always see her at the games. Having family and friends able to come support me and not travel far is an awesome thing.”