PROVO — Ty’Son Williams brings SEC experience to BYU’s backfield but just how quickly will the things he brings translate into production for the Cougars?
That’s the chatter of fall camp, especially after the first scrimmage last Saturday where he was the center of attention in post-practice interviews. By all reports, Williams was explosive, ran with authority and should be worth Kalani Sitake’s investment in a one-year player.
If what coaches say is accurate, Williams’ maturity, work ethic, example and attention to detail in practice have already made a positive impact on the running back corps after two weeks of drills. He has great vision, can run inside the tackles or get loose on the outside. And he can catch.
Williams describes his running skills as an “all in one” utility player.
“I’m proud to be able to do it fast, shake and catch the ball and be explosive and creative while I run with the ball,” Williams said. “I always want to be put in a favored position instead of coaches saying I need to come out in certain situations.”
He also believes he can block if called upon to help in protection schemes required in the offense.
A do-all back wouldn’t just be a luxury for offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, offensive line coach Eric Mateos and his position coach, AJ Steward — it would be an answer to a lot of questions about the upcoming season.
Williams said his main concern coming to Provo as a single-year player was understanding the playbook as fast as possible.
“That was the big thing for me, just to have an understanding, to feel comfortable with the plays and signals.”
BYU’s running back corps was fairly decimated by the end of last year. Depth was sorely tested when Squally Canada was injured along with Lopini Katoa and then Matt Hadley. It definitely was a committee that had a lot of absent chairs around the table.
In this camp, Williams is joined by Katoa, fellow senior transfer from Rice University Emmanuel Esukpa, Tyler Allgeier, Sione Finau, Jackson McChesney, Morgan Pyper, Masen Wake and Alec Wyble-Meza.
Williams, who transferred from North Carolina to the Gamecocks, was an ESPN 300 player his senior year at Crestwood High in Sumter, South Carolina. He was considered the best running back in the state and No. 11 nationally as a four-star recruit.
Williams says BYU’s running back corps is solid and similar to what he’s worked with at other programs.
“They compare very well,” he said. “They are all very versatile. Emmanuel is a big, strong back, and Lopini is fast and reminds me of myself in being a do-all type of runner. Tyler is a bigger back who has a great feel for the game.
“To be honest with you, all the backs across the board have been pretty good. I think you could compare it to any room in the country.”
Williams claims BYU’s offense has similar concepts to what he’s seen at North Carolina and South Carolina.
“But the terminology is different. I have to understand that,” he explained. “It’s like the call we make for pass pro is something I’m familiar with but overall it is a matter of understanding, adapting and adjusting to what the names mean.”
BYU’s offensive line strikes Williams as very smart and always in good position.
“They move very well and I like how James Empey is out there calling the front,” he said. “They move really good in space so that’s always a great thing.”
Williams said he’s enjoying adjusting to the culture out West and in Utah. “Not many people where I come from are familiar with the culture here. I’m just learning and soaking it all in.”
Williams has been in Provo since the end of May and has spent some time checking out the local scene. He likes to cook and, so far, his favorite eatery is Tucanos Brazilian Grill. He’s already hiked to the Y on the mountain that oversees Utah Valley and said the hike was extremely different from the flat, coastal landscape of the Carolinas.
“My back was locking up when we first started hiking,” he said of the morning he took off with Esukpa on their Lewis and Clark experience. “I got out of breath really quick and I said to myself, ‘What is going on?’ but people tell me that the altitude makes the air a little thin and you have to get used to it.”
Looking ahead, Williams said he likes BYU’s schedule in that there are games back East where his family and friends can attend.
“My family is also planning on coming out here to see some games,” he said. “I like that every game is on TV.”
Grimes and the rest of BYU’s staff deserve credit for filling the running back room with bodies and potential game changers like Williams.
It will be known soon enough if their plans pan out.