What a Difference a Year Makes for WR

This time last year, Kyle Williams was just another freshman struggling. Not so much with his game, but rather with mononucleosis which sidelined him for weeks. Ironically, it didn't lead to a redshirt, as he played in the second half of the 2006 season. Strong performances in the spring and fall camp have all but assured him a starting role and established him as a prime receiving game target.

"Camp is a lot different this time around," said Kyle Williams. "I'm not sick as hell. I was like 160 pounds then (he currently weighs 185 pounds). I'm having fun out here and I'm getting a lot of work done. I'm feeling a lot better this year and it's a lot more fun for me."

The sophomore's enjoyment is also with what Camp Tontozona has to offer, or in some cases not offer. "There's no distractions, no cell phones," Williams explained, "It's us, the coaches and the team. On the one end you love it and on the other hand you're like ‘man I wish I could use my phone to call my mom…' but it's fun out here."

The wide receiver appeared in the six games as a true freshman, and started in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. Like many other true freshmen, he struggled and caught just four passes for 87 yards (21.8 avg.) on the season. He did have solid averages at punt return (5.5 avg.) and kickoff return (19.8 avg).

While his freshman year was certainly not an impressive one, Williams' play in the spring did turn heads. He was one of the best receivers during that time and in one scrimmage caught touchdown passes of 50 and 70 yards. He naturally came into fall with high expectations and to date hasn't disappointed. He's on the receiving end of many Rudy Carpenter passes, and his freakish athletic skills are on display every time he touches the ball.

"I think I'm doing OK," he said humbly. "I dropped a pass today (Thursday), I dropped a pass yesterday and I can't allow that…I'm on the first team and I have been since the spring. It's a lot better for me because the game isn't going a million miles an hour for me anymore. I'm able to play faster because things have slowed down and I know the game better than I did before…one thing about our receivers is that we know all the (wide receiver) positions, and we have to play at all of them because that's valuable for our depth."

Despite what's transpiring in fall practice, Williams doesn't believe that he (and Mike Jones for that matter) is considered the proverbial go-to guy in ASU's passing game. "We have six, seven go-to guys," he claimed. "That's the good thing about our receivers. We all have good hands and when you throw the ball up we'll get it. We're gonna go to anybody on the field."

Another wide receiver who probably should also be labeled as a go-to guy these days, is true freshman Kerry Taylor, who's performance continues to impress Williams everyday at practice. "He looks like a senior out there and he's been here for only a couple of weeks," said Williams. "He has his head in the game. I went into his cabin the other day and he's already reading the playbook. The kid is a genius on the field and he's showing it…I don't know if we'll haze him because he isn't playing like a freshman (laughs). You just don't have to teach him anything, same thing with T.J. Simpson. Both of them are like veteran receivers out there."

Williams was an accomplished baseball player locally at Scottsdale Chaparral, and came to the Sun Devils with the intention of also playing on the baseball team. Because of the depth of ASU's squad, who played in the College World Series in June, the wide receiver was regulated to the gridiron. "I'm not sorry I didn't play baseball," he claimed. "I got to play in the spring and get better, I worked out in the summer…if I didn't have that spring and summer playing football I wouldn't be at the level I am now. I would be just fighting for playing time and not being in the shape I'm in now or have the feel for the game that I have."

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. He naturally wants to prove that he can be a playmaker on the college level as well, and is seems to be headed in that direction.

Nonetheless, he puts his personal ambitions on the side. "First of all, I want to accomplish 10, 12 wins," he noted. "If the team accomplishes that, the personal stats will come. Our game plan is give the ball to Ryan Torain, have him run some people over and then throw the ball deep. That will work and we'll put points on the board."

And whether he admits it or not, chances are any offensive success the maroon and gold will enjoy in 2007 will be in great part due to the play of Kyle Williams.

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