Will the real Xavier Williams please stand up?
With the large shadow of “Hollywood” gone, Xavier Williams has all the tools required to become the Rams’ next star receiver. Whether or not the redshirt junior is prepared to step into that role is up for debate, but if spring ball is any indication of what is to come, Williams is ready for the spotlight.
Williams has yet to reach his full potential on the field, showing flashes of greatness here and there, but needs to put together a complete season. The absence of Rashard Higgins and Joe Hansley leaves the door open for the talented receiver to do just that.
“I need to keep doing what I’m doing right now,” Williams said. “Day-in and day-out, even after spring football is over, I can’t let up. I gotta keep working on my craft when I go home for the summer. Coach Bobo always says if you didn’t get better, then you got worse. No one stays the same.”
In Williams’ limited playing time the past two seasons, “X” has hauled in 49 receptions, 661 yards, and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, Williams has shown he is a big play waiting to happen, with four of his five touchdowns coming on plays over 30-yards, including a 76-yard touchdown against Air Force in 2014, which still stands as the longest catch by a CSU receiver since 2008.
“I like going deep, but I don’t just want to be a deep threat,” Williams said. “I want to be able to catch short passes and take them long, catch medium passes, be a possession receiver. But, if I have a chance to beat my man deep, I’m taking it.”
If Williams plans to become an all-around threat, he will have to become more of a competitor, according to head coach Mike Bobo.
“(Williams) has the potential to be a dominant receiver in this league,” Bobo said. “But, he’s got to be more consistent on every play. He tends to take plays off and play hot. But, when he’s got his mind locked, he’s hard to cover.”
In the first of three spring scrimmages, Williams hauled in three touchdowns and around 170 yards, according to Bobo.
Impressive stats. However, Williams was running with the second team offense.
Despite having huge numbers in the scrimmage, wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted still had Williams practicing with the second team Tuesday, a move that Bobo agreed with.
“Coach Whitted sent (Williams) a message,” Bobo said. “He was (No. 2 team) today, even after having a big scrimmage, which I liked. He knows what he’s got to do and knows we need him to be an explosive playmaker, but, he’s got to be consistent in all areas of his life.”
Williams is well aware of the reputation surrounding him and realizes that he has an opportunity to change that perception.
“It was my own fault for my first few years here,” Williams said. “I’m working to get out of that habit and it’s going good right now, but, the thing is (Bobo) is gonna stay on me and I have no problem with that cause it’s just gonna help me more and more. Can’t let up.”
The change in approach has not gone unnoticed by Williams’ peers.
“(Williams) has had an attitude change this year,” quarterback Nick Stevens said. “He has really come out working and taken responsibility for his success. I definitely think that Saturday was just a little sneak peek of what he can do. … This year he has really shown that he is gonna be that playmaker that we need.”
It is redemption time for Williams, and X gon’ give it to ‘ya.
Collegian Sports Reporter Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ChadDeutschman.