Kyler Williams is an emerging star in Northwest Arkansas.
The Class of 2017 wide receiver from Springdale added to his cushion atop the 7A-West conference statistical charts with 13 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 57-38 loss to Bixby (Okla.) last week.
The production came partly as a result of the Spartans trying to cover him with one defender.
“I was really surprised they put me one-on-one because last week, (Alma) bracketed me and that’s what I figured they were going to do,” Williams said. “Surprisingly, they left me one-on-one out there and we took advantage of it.”
As a sophomore, Williams caught only eight passes for 71 yards, but jumped onto the scene with a 9-catch, 153-yard performance against Greenwood Week 1. He followed that with a 10-catch, 126-yard outing against Alma, despite the double coverage.
The Bixby game brought his season totals to 32 receptions for 542 yards, both of which lead the conference. He also has three touchdown receptions.
Williams has been one of a few bright spots for Springdale, which is riding a school-record 16-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs had Bixby, the defending Oklahoma Class 6A-Division II state champion, on the ropes, trailing 22-17 early in the third quarter when Williams went down with a shoulder stinger.
The deficit ballooned to 36-17 during the two series he missed, but he returned to score an 80-yard touchdown.
“We lost Kyler the first play of the second half and that’s when we got behind,” Springdale head coach and former Arkansas quarterback Zak Clark said. “But that’s a learning opportunity. We’ve got to get stops on defense right there and we’ve got to have somebody else on offense to make plays.
Of his 13 catches against Bixby, four came after he returned to the game from the injury.
The emergence of Williams has surprised some, but the star receiver said he worked extremely hard over the summer to improve his skills.
“The footwork drills, the speed drills, the ball drills – it’s really starting to pay off for me,” Williams said. “It’s really showing out there. I just need to keep working this summer to get even better next year.”
Williams is already receiving interest from Arkansas State, but one thing probably causing some schools to hesitate is his size. At 5-foot-9, 150 pounds, he is not the prototypical wide receiver.
“I listen to (the criticism) and put it into my game,” Williams said. “I just go out there and show them. I can go up against anyone I feel like. If they want to underestimate me, that’s a mistake they’re going to make and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
Nothing is set in stone yet, but Williams said he would most likely attend several combine camps and camps at a few colleges this summer.
While he is proud of the progress he’s made, Williams knows he still has a long way to go. One area he is focusing on is his speed, as his 40-yard dash time is around 4.6 seconds.
“I need to have that break away speed,” Williams said. “I don’t feel like I have that right now, so I really need to work on that.
“If I can get that, it will take my game to the next level.”