At the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff, held at the Grandover Resort down the road in Greensboro, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams shared his excitement for the season ahead, explaining how the Tar Heels are hungrier than ever to achieve big things on the football field this fall.
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“We’re excited about the guys we have returning. It’s going to be very special to see what we do this year. A lot of guys have been really focused this summer. Everybody is happy. I haven’t seen one guy complain about a workout like we used to,” Williams says.
Williams has been observing a greater dedication and intensity level by his teammates in the offseason. In essence, the Tar Heels appear to be taking it to another level in preparation for the 2014 campaign.
In particular, the junior lauded return specialist and wideout Ryan Switzer as a model of hard work. Williams says it’s not uncommon for Switzer to work out three times a day.
As for game days, Williams and the Tar Heels will have a new offensive boss roaming the sidelines this year. Williams says Seth Littrell fits right in with the Red Bull slurping Head Coach Larry Fedora. They have two cornerstone traits in common: high energy and a passion for points.
“Like he [Littrell] told me yesterday, it doesn’t matter what the defense does, we’re going to score points. That’s what I love about what he said. He said, ‘Tell those boys to get us back the ball because we’re going to score points.’ If that doesn’t get you excited as a quarterback then why are you playing football? It gets me excited. I’m very pumped. He has a lot of energy and more than that, he has a lot of swag,” Williams says.
Swag aside, for Williams, the quest for improvement is ongoing.
In an effort to sharpen his accuracy, Williams attended the Peyton Manning camp this summer alongside college quarterback greats like Jameis Winston, Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winner.
Williams says it was an incredible experience working with a legend like Manning. He even received a ringing endorsement from the Denver Broncos’ star.
“The guy gave me a lot of confidence. Coming in, a lot of guys were saying I wasn’t much of a thrower. But Peyton called me to the side and said, ‘Son, you’re a heck of a thrower. Your form is good. Your feet are good. When he gave me that talk, I felt like nobody could tell me anything. It’s Peyton Manning. That’s the greatest in the game. […] He gave me a boost,” Williams says.
But at the end of the day, a quarterback is only as good as the tools he has to work with. And Williams is certainly losing a valuable one in tight end Eric Ebron, who will now be playing on Sundays in the NFL.
However, Williams says he’s not overly worried. He says he’s comfortable with senior Jack Tabb’s ability to fill the position.
“He’s going to be ready for that task. He’s been performing well. He’s been running great routes. His hands have been getting better and better. I’m looking forward to see what he’s going to do. He knows he has big shoes to fill, but he’s going to step up to the challenge. We’re Tar Heels, that’s what we do. We step up to any challenge,” Williams says.
Ironically for Williams, his spot as the starter of his own team remains in question. His battle for the job with promising upstart Mitch Trubisky has provided plenty of offseason fodder for conversations around the summer water cooler.
But the man who led Carolina to wins in six of its last seven games and delivered a Belk Bowl championship in 2013 says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not surprised at all. If you don’t have a position battle on the football team, then I don’t know why you have a college football team. If I was to win the starting job this year, I would still think I would need to compete the next season after that. I like to compete. I named myself Marquise ‘Competition’. I’ve been competing all my life,” Williams says.
Marquise ‘Competition’ will certainly have his hands full with Trubisky nipping at his heels when preseason practice resumes shortly, but Williams’ trademark poise and confidence won the day Sunday in Greensboro.