If he’s chosen as the starter, Isaiah Williams would become the first non-transfer to start the Illini’s opening game since Chayce Crouch in 2017.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Isaiah Williams is on a mission to prove the college football world wrong.
“I’m always me, I’m gonna be me.”
The redshirt freshman could have gone anywhere out of Trinity Catholic in St. Louis with dozens of Power 5 offers, from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and more. But Williams chose the Illini so he could play quarterback. Three years later he’s still facing questions about his future behind the center.
“Right now, my entire focus is on me becoming a better quarterback,” says Williams.
He had his first true shot as signal caller last season filling in for a sidelined Brandon Peters against Rutgers. The redshirt freshman left a lot to be desired in the air, completing only 41 percent of his passes.
“We just attack it every day, trying to become the best I can mechanically,” says Williams, who is working with the new Illini staff to remove a hitch in his throw.
“He’s a shorter quarterback, but he can throw it,” says offensive coordinator Tony Petersen. “Very athletic, probably one of the more athletic guys on our team.”
Williams used that athleticism to set a program record for rushing yards in a game by a QB with 192. Head coach Bret Bielema sees the potential, so he’s letting Williams and Peters battle it out for the starting job.
“I was very pleased with what he did when he came in,” says Bielema. “After we get done with 15 practices we’ll take a deep breath and see where we’re at.”
Whatever direction the Illini go, time is something Williams has on his side. He’s played parts of two seasons but still has four years of eligibility.
“I’m still a young guy, but at the same time I done gained experience,” says Williams. “I did a couple years, so I know the ins and outs but at the end of the day I still have four years so it’s a blessing.”