CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Isaiah Williams is known for his quick cuts, speed and agility. But his new position coach, wide receivers coach George McDonald, knows it takes more than talent to make it as a Division I receiver.
“He told me like, ‘You can have all the skills, but if you’re not detailed, you don’t do the little things right. You’re never going to be good,'” Williams said. “Having the opportunity to just hone in on the details, that’s been great for me.”
The St. Louis native started four games at quarterback in 2020 and even set the school record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, going for 192 yards at Rutgers in his first career start. That experience should pay dividends, even at a new spot on the field.
“Being in a game, seeing how fast it go at quarterback, I feel like that’s going to help me a lot for this next upcoming season,” Williams said. “Now that I switched, it’s not like jitters like, ‘Dang, I never did it before.’ I actually been out there and got the chance to play.”
Williams has now had almost a full offseason to ingrain himself in the nitty gritty after making the position change at the end of spring ball. The transition has had it’s challenges but it something the 5-foot-10, 180 pound wideout embraced when he decided to make the switch.
“In this whole thing as it evolved, I think I knew where it was going to trend,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said. “The day he wanted to do it and the way he said it and they way he communicated it, it was literally instantaneous you could see the effect he would have on this football team.”
Williams had dozens of Power 5 offers to play receiver out of Trinity Catholic High School, the most successful schools in the country wanted him including Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas. He chose Illinois though because they wanted him as QB 1. Now he’s ready for a new challenge.
“He’s always ready to learn,” Illinois senior quarterback Brandon Peters said. “It’s something that’s kind of new to him but it’s something that he fits into really well cause he’s such a great athlete.”
With four years of eligibility still left, Williams has time on his side to make the adjustment.
He’s happy with how far he’s come, but there’s more left to learn.
“It’s a lot of things I need to continue to work on, and I’m attacking those things every day so I can be elite,” Williams said. “And be a complete receiver and be good at all the little things. All the little details that make a receiver great.”