Baseball Can Wait for Kyle Williams

It's a sport that has been part of his life for over a dozen years. Yet, wide receiver Kyle Williams knows that he's needed more on the gridiron than the diamond these days. His baseball duties will resume after spring practice, and in the meantime he's starting to emerge as a solid target in the Sun Devils passing game.

"I'm feeling real good right now," said Kyle Williams following Saturday's practice. "I like the new scheme and I like of course that I'm getting a lot of touches. I just get to run around, make some moves and make people miss. I'm just having fun." Special teams are another area that the sophomore would like to make his mark. "I'm in the mix for punt return. I had it (the starting role) last year and I want it back. I want to get on the kick return team too."

Williams redshirted just half his freshman year in 2006, as he was needed to assist as a punt and kick returner. It definitely was baptism by fire for the local Scottsdale Chaparral standout. "My experience is really helping me now with the speed of the game," he admitted. "I wasn't ready for it last year, but I'm ready for it now. It's lot easier now knowing what I need to do and what the defense is gonna do in coverages. It really is a mental game where you need to know a whole lot of things mentally before you go out there and play the game physically. I'm having an easier time with the mental part."

Named as the Arizona Republic player of the year in 2005, Williams is no stranger to being in the spotlight. He had 2,294 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns as a high school senior, and certainly wants to prove that he can be a playmaker on the college level as well. "We have a lot of those guys (playmakers) on the team, probably five or six guys and I hope I'm one of them," Williams commented. "I'm just out there trying to help the team to win games…every two days (in the off-season) we were here going 7-on-7, working on our timing with Rudy (QB Rudy Carpenter). Just doing what we need to do to get ready for the season."

Williams needs to look no further than fellow wide receiver Mike Jones, as an example of a player trying to juggle football and baseball. However, it's Jones that is the one doing the true shuttling between both sports, as he splits time between spring practice and baseball games. "He has had two more years of experience than I have, so he has more room to do that," explained Williams. "I'm younger, I have new coaches, so I don't have a say in that. I have to go through this right now and maybe next year I can do it differently. Hopefully (ASU Baseball) Coach Murphy is still cool with me coming back (after spring) like we agreed on before. So far the team is taking care of business, so hopefully I can get in and help them a little bit."

Ironically, the more Jones devotes time to his other sport, the more opportunities Williams will get in terms of practice reps and chances to elevate himself on the depth chart. Nonetheless, the sophomore knows it isn't that cut and dry. "You can't keep Mike off the field – he's gonna be in there making plays. That's obvious."

Williams' father Ken is the general manager for the Chicago White Sox and the manager of one of the most colorful skippers in Major League Baseball - Ozzie Guillen. Thus, being exposed to Guillen's personality and enthusiasm makes sense to the wide receiver as new Head Coach Dennis Erickson tries these days to build a swagger and a sense of constant excitement among the maroon and gold. So who does Williams think is the more vocal and motivating among the two coaches?

"Oh my gosh, it has to be Ozzie Guillen," he stated. "He trash talks more than anybody I know. But you have to be intense and both coaches are. You have to get on people because that's how you get results. When you challenge players that's how you get better."

Offense has been a bag of mixed goods thus far in spring practice, and in Saturday's scrimmage it took a back seat to the defense. The wide receiver vows that his side of the ball plans to prevail and soon. "On Thursday we were hitting on all cylinders and today you see me drop two balls," said Williams. "We just have to get everything down. It's all timing, getting acclimated to each other again. We're gonna improve and next week we'll get the defense."

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