Watch now: Something however ‘common’: Illinois’ Isaiah Williams has excessive expectations for a change of place | Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois first year football coach Bret Bielema saw something was wrong.

Isaiah Williams, usually lively and enthusiastic, was anything but that during one of the Illinois spring exercises.

Isaiah Williams, left, has switched from quarterback to wide receiver for the Illinois.

Morry Gash, Associated Press

“There was a day in spring when he wasn’t him,” Bielema said in May, according to 247Sports. “I saw a guy who was never happy.”

So what bothered Williams? His role on the team and the decision to ultimately change it.

During his first two seasons in Illinois, Williams was quarterback. When in play, he touched the ball every move and made every decision.

Those days are now in the rearview mirror. The talented Redshirt freshman, who is 1.70 m tall and weighs 180 pounds, switched to a full-time wide receiver this spring. It’s a decision he didn’t envision when he started his college career in Champaign, but it’s one he embraces.

“It’s tough, but I think, ‘We’re going forward.’ It’s been tough for me, but it’s also something that is good for me, “Williams said Thursday during a personal media session at Memorial Stadium. “I love what I do now, so I’m going to take the same passion I had with the quarterback into the receiver room. The same leadership I had as a quarterback I bring into the receiver room. So everything I put on I’ve done the quarterback position, I’ll do more in the receiver position. “

People also read …

Williams said the day Bielema spoke of when “he wasn’t him” in May was during a “rough exercise” Williams described. After that, he and Bielema sat one on one, and the two said it was a mutual agreement for Williams to switch positions.

Switching was never an option.

“None at all,” said Williams. “I’m here and I want to make the best of my choices here, so I didn’t think about it at all. I just thought, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to try something new and see where it takes me.” . ‘”

‘500 passes per day’

Since then, Williams has worked tirelessly to transform his body and mindset. He joked that there was a lot more running as a receiver while exercising, adding that the Illinois coaching staff hired him to build more muscle, presumably to withstand bigger punches, now that he is no longer protected by the offensive line is.

When Williams talks about the transition, he shows a calm confidence that is hardly lacking in arrogance.

“I got a god-given gift, my feet,” said Williams. “I spoke to Coach (Bielema) and we kind of decided to try the receiver. I tried it and then I loved it and from then on I thought, ‘This is something I need to do for my future and also to help the team. ‘”

Support local journalism

Your membership enables our reporting.


Williams believes in his talent and the dedication he brings with it, as evidenced by the thousands of passports he caught training in Arizona last month.

“The biggest thing is the deception with (defensive backs) that makes them think I’m doing one thing and then another,” said Williams. “Catch the ball, catch 500 passes a day. I do that every day. And then just run the route, get on and off the breaks as quickly as possible. Those are the three biggest things.”

Williams added that he was drawing on the expertise of fellow receivers Dalevon Campbell, Brian Hightower, Donny Navarro III, Carlos Sandy and Khamari Thompson, all of whom are more experienced in hauling in catches. Williams mentioned that he annoyed Navarro the most and was watching movies with Thompson.

“Every day I pick Donny’s brain,” Williams said. “Every day I think, ‘Hey Bro, how do you do this? Hey Bro, why did you do that on this route?'”

Accompanied by Williams during his transition to receiver is Marquez Beason, a newcomer to Redshirt who moved back from the defensive this spring. Williams has also asked Beason, “his brother” and fellow closet, for advice because he knows the receiver’s position from a defensive perspective.

“Everything translated”

However, no relationship is more important than the one Williams has with alleged quarterback Brandon Peters. As a former quarterback, Williams said he understood the difficulties of Peters’ job firsthand and he plans to lighten some of that burden by showing him as a top target.

“Everything translates well (between quarterback and receiver). One thing is the movie room. This is a big deal. I’ve spent hours as a quarterback in the movie room and I know what I’m looking for as a quarterback, ”said Williamss. “So I know what Brandon Peters is looking for, I know what he wants from his recipients. So it’s easy for me to go into this (recipient) room and do what he expects of me.”

In 10 career games at the quarterback, Williams completed 29 of 73 passes for 431 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also scored 72 carries for 409 yards and a touchdown, highlighted by an Illinois quarterback single game rushing record of 192 yards in a 23-20 win at Rutgers last season.

As a recipient, Williams’ playmaking ability is relatively unknown. He’s only recorded three catches for nine yards, but he’s confident that if the ball comes his way, he will deliver.

After all, Williams was a highly touted recruit with scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, and dozens of others, and many of them wanted him to be a receiver or defensive back.

Illinois was one of the few power five programs that gave Williams the chance to play quarterback, and while that plan has changed, his standards haven’t changed.

“I want to be the leader of this team, I want to start, I want to do all-big ten, whatever,” said Williams. “I don’t switch just to be average.”

Plus, Williams, who is eligible for another four years, will stay prepared in case Beielma wants to get creative.

“Whenever Coach B calls the (trick) games and wants me to show my arm again, I’m always ready,” said Williams.

PHOTOS: Illinois’ Isaiah Williams

Trinity soccer practice

Isaiah Williams juket around a defense attorney during practice at Trinity High School on Tuesday July 10, 2018 in St. Louis, Mo.

Paul Halfacre, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Trinity vs. Southern Boone

Trinity’s Isaiah Williams, 1, is one of two four-star signatories for the 2019 University of Illinois Football Recruitment Class.

Paul Halfacre, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Williams 2

Quarterback Isaiah Williams will join the Illinois next season and visited Champaign for an unofficial visit last Saturday.



Freshman quarterback Isaiah Williams speaks to the media during the University of Illinois Football Media Day in August. Williams remains a quarterback but contributed to the wide receiver during Monday’s Redbox Bowl.



Isaiah Williams, 1, during August soccer training camp at the University of Illinois.


The Illinois head coach said Redshirt freshman Isaiah Williams, left, “improved about as much as anyone else on the team.”

Michael Glasgow, Fighting Illinois Athletics

Illinois Wisconsin Soccer

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams throws a pass in the second half on Friday.

Morry Gash, Associated Press

Illinois Rutgers Football

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) rushes past Rutgers defensive back Christian Izien in the first half of Saturday’s game in Piscataway, NJ

Jim Benson

Illinois Rutgers Football

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) is tripped by Rutgers defensive back Christian Izien in the first half of Saturday’s game in Piscataway, NJ

Jim Benson

Illinois Rutgers Football

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) celebrates a touchdown against Rutgers on Saturday. He set a program record for rushing yards from a quarterback at 192.

Adam Hunger, Associated Press

Illinois Penn St Soccer

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) scores against Penn State in the first quarter of Saturday’s game at State College, Pennsylvania.

Jim Benson

Isaiah Williams 1

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams throws the soccer ball during the Illinois’ first spring training session this week.

Michael Glasgow, University of Illinois Sports Information

Isiah Williams 2

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) runs the ball in spring practice last week.

Patrick Pierson, Illinois Sports Information

Isaiah Williams

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) throws during practice last week.

Patrick Pierson, Illinois Sports Information

Iowa Illinois Soccer

Illinois quarterback Isaiah Williams (1) carries the ball past running back Reggie Love III during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa on Saturday, December 5, 2020, in Champaign, Illinois. Iowa won 35-21. (AP photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

Charles Rex Arbogast

Follow James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid

Comments are closed.