LB Looks to Implement Freshman Year Experiences

Jamar Williams came to ASU with little fanfare. Despite being the best high school player in Huston, the Devils were literally the only major school seriously recruiting him. Not only did he get to play in his first year, but his presence was felt in many games. Oddly enough, with the departure of threes seniors this sophomore suddenly finds himself as the leader of the pack ready to impart his encounters from the 2002 season.

"Last year was more of a learning experience for me." Says the linebacker, "I just tried to come in and make an impact right away, play my role, and help out wherever I can. It was a great year, playing next to three veteran linebackers. They thought me so much, and I'm trying to take all that, make it part of my game, and carry these young guys with me."

When we asked him what he learned in specific from the trio of talented teammates, he replied: "I learned a little bit from everybody. Solo (Bates) was the big hitter. He was the insider that taught me all the tricks of the trade. Mason (Unck) was the technician, and he just taught me all kinds of techniques, and helped me understand the defense better. Josh (Amobi) was just a great athlete that helped me a lot with special teams. So each of them brought me a little bit of knowledge that helped my game."

Williams said he was feeling a little sore after the first spring practice, but he was looking forward to Thursday and the first contact session. "I gained 15 pounds and I'm bigger and stronger, so I'm waiting for that first hit (smile). I just want to get that first hit out of me. It's been a while, but I'm ready to put the pads back on and get my licks in."

The sophomore's numbers in his first year of college football were solid, considering the fact he was playing behind three veteran linebackers, in a scheme that calls for only two players in that position. Williams had 37 total tackles, including four for a loss. One unique category his name shows up in is blocked kicks. The Langham Creek high school star was the only Sun Devil, aside from matt Miller, to block a punt last season. Williams takes much pride in his secondary role on the team. "Special teams are great. Coach Osborne really makes it a lot of fun. People don't always notice it, but that's a big part of the game. You don't realize how big it is on the college level until you play in it. Blocking a punt is just a great game breaking play, just like an interception. That was awesome getting that, and it made up for that Nebraska game (where his error caused an ASU punt to be blocked)."

With his experiences both at linebacker and on special teams, he suddenly finds himself as the seasoned veteran on what has to be the least experienced unit on this football team. "I'm not the guy that has to learn and hesitate. I'm the guy that has to play with his instinct and implement what I learned last year. I'm the vet people are gonna look up to, and someone that's here trying to help the young guys. It's weird saying that because I'm only a sophomore, but I just want to play well and be a leader out there."

Despite coming back with the most experience, Jamar Williams will have to fence off several hungry players who will try and nail down one of two starting positions. Nevertheless, anticipation, not apprehension, is Williams' prevailing attitude. "The competition is great. I'm looking forward to it. It's just wide open with those three guys leaving, and a lot of people are gonna get a chance to show what they can do. We got some linebackers that are just gonna bring pain to the field, and really help us. We all have to work hard, and help the younger guys understand the defense."

When all is said and done, the linebacker does believe that he will be part of the cream that will eventually rise to the top. "I'm just gonna try my hardest, and do my best to be a starter. If I'm not the starter, I'm just gonna work my way up and see what happens. I know coach Guy plays the best players out there, so if I'm doing my job I should be one of those guys." In football, like any other walk of life, experience does breed confidence.

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