Ryan Williams accepts the Torgersen Award (Image Courtesy of Beamerball)
There have been quite a few things written on the subject of whether Ryan Williams can step up to the challenge and beat out Josh Oglesby for the #1 tailback spot this fall. The Hokies are in dire need for either Oglesby, Williams, or freshman uber-talent David Wilson to pick up the slack in Evans’ absence. While Williams has wowed people in scrimmages, he hasn’t impressed coaches with his work ethic over the last two years. I thought it would be interesting to compare a few quotes from Kyle Tucker’s blog as well as the RTD to get a better picture of these two guys and what they offer the team in terms of character and work ethic, as those are two of the biggest qualities a successful player MUST have in Frank Beamer’s program:
“Like I said: I always want to get better, do things better. If I couldn’t show the coaches physically, I was going to show them mentally that I was ready. I listened to the huddle and then told them my assignments, so the coaches would know that I know what I’m doing.”
-David Wilson on getting his mental reps during Saturday’s scrimmage
“The only time I felt like that was the first week of training camp. It was just a lot coming at me. A lot of little things I wasn’t used to. My biggest thing was to overcome blocking. I felt like I made a great jump in that, and learning the offense. Coach Hite doesn’t really say anything to me about mental errors. Sometimes I have to re-ask, because I don’t take a lot of varsity reps now. I do a lot of scout-team stuff. But it’s not that difficult to me. I feel like I made a great adjustment. I feel like I can play right now. But obviously the coaches don’t think that. And it’s their call. I can’t tell them what to do.”
-Williams on his struggles learning the offense last season (2008)
Maybe it’s their intelligence: Which guy sounds like they’re willing to put in the time studying to get on the field quickly? Williams struggled with blocking schemes and reading defenses during his redshirt season in 2008. Many people speculated that he wasn’t the most “coachable” player on the team, and had a bit of a bad attitude. Whether it’s based upon Williams’ past mistakes or just good character, Wilson seems to have a good head on his shoulders. When he went down with a shoulder sprain in Saturday’s scrimmage, he stayed in Billy Hite’s ear, proving that he knew the reads and the responsibilities of the running back for each play. Pretty good for an 18-year-old if you ask me.
Wilson scores a touchdown for Team USA in Canton, OH
“To be honest, I came back this summer not in shape as far as the 110 standards. (Tech’s 110-yard sprints, 16 of which have to be completed in a certain amount of time.) They were tough. My body locked up a lot. I think it had to do with me not eating right. It wasn’t that I was real tired. My body just locked up on me. I ate a lot of junk food, no water, not much of anything healthy (during summer).”
-Williams on coming to camp out of shape this fall
“It’s a tall order, but all of us are talented at what we do. Each one of us does something different. All I can do is what I’m good at and keep improving on things I need to get better at. If I just keep working hard, I’m sure I’ll see the field.”
-Wilson on seeing the field in his freshman season
Maybe it’s their work ethic: Is it me or does it sound like Wilson knows what he needs to do in order to get more playing time as a freshman? Williams claimed all spring that he had learned from his mistakes in 2008, and yet he came into camp out of shape because he ate poorly and didn’t run while he was at home in Manassas. What a lame excuse. Coming home as a shifty back and all he did was lift weights? Sounds pretty irresponsible if a guy that relies on his quickness completely neglects that and isn’t able to pass conditioning tests after only two months away. Meanwhile Wilson was training with Team U.S. in Ohio and Darren Evans and Oglesby were busting tail in Blacksburg.
"I run my way. I've had coaches who have tried to teach me how to do this, do that. And I just can't do it. At first, it didn't sit well with Coach Hite at all. He's constantly [saying], 'Hammer the hole, hammer the hole. Hammer, hammer, hammer.' He wants to see contact non-stop. I didn't listen to him that much. I try not to make the contact. I try to make the people miss. I think after a while, after he saw me making plays and seeing that I'm pretty good at what I do, he kind of left me alone…it's not like I can't run between the tackles or anything. I just choose not to."
-Williams on his running style
"I wore a tie every day my senior year in high school," Wilson said. "I just thought it always looked neat. You know, a lot of kids these days wear their pants down, so I wanted to look neat. People treat you different you a lot different when you're dressed that way, especially elders, grown-ups, they respect you more, more maturely and it helped a lot with teachers."
-Wilson on dressing to impress
Maybe it’s their maturity: That could be misconstrued as a kid trying to suck up, but Wilson sounds like a pretty impressive guy. He spent his breaks in high school attending FCA mission trips and has impressed every reporter that has spoken to him since arriving in Blacksburg. Williams, in the words of my buddy HokieGuru, “sounds a bit uncoachable” and has a poor attitude. You may not want to run a certain way based upon a coach’s thought process, but Billy Hite has been in Blacksburg for over 30 years and knows what he’s talking about. It may do Williams to listen to a guy that has as much knowledge and experience as Hite. I have no ill will for Williams, but I think it’s hard to say that I don’t want to root a little harder for Wilson to have a bigger impact this fall for the Hokies.