"With the injuries to Travis [Bright] and with Dallas [Reynolds] taking limited reps this spring because of his ankle and … resting a lot this spring, I've had to kind of step in at different positions," said R.J. Willing. "I guess I'm kind of the utility man this spring playing tackle, guard and center."
Coach Weber has recognized the overall athleticism that Willing possesses, which gives Willing the opportunity to play multiple positions.
"I think it is a compliment from Coach Weber," said Willing regarding him playing multiple positions. "He has the trust in me, and anything I can do to help the team, I'll do it. That's kind of the attitude I take."
Coach Weber first recognized the physical versatility that Willing has last season when he filled in for some of his teammates.
"We were preparing for the Las Vegas Bowl last year," Willing said. "Both Tom [Sorensen] and Sete [Aulai] were gone to take care of some finals. We had to get some things done during practice, and so Coach Weber threw me in there at center. I guess I did a good enough job to catch his eye. I guess I put it in his mind that it's possible for me to play the position."
"There is a little competition at the center spot," said Willing. "It's between me and Tom Sorensen. I think it's to help create some competition there and to also provide depth. Coach Weber, when he set forth the goals for spring, said he's going to declare a starter, so nothing is set in stone there. Everyone has to compete and this allows for that. It also helps us to work harder by breeding competition, which makes us as an offensive line unit better."
The dynamics that surround the center position differs from playing both guard and tackle. Willing is becoming well versed in those facets that not only make playing the center position unique, but also one of the more difficult positions across the offensive line.
"It's definitely a different position than what I'm used to at tackle," said Willing with slight smile. "At the tackle position, you have to listen to what the center is saying at all times, but when you're the center you're the one making the calls. It's also different in that you have guards next to you and so you have to work more with them, so it's a lot different and both do have their different challenges. However, at the center position you have to think more."
Although he's coached for 27 years at colleges such as UCLA, North Carolina and Fresno State, among many others, Coach Weber enters his second year as BYU's newest offensive line coach. Now you can listen to Coach Weber talk about R.J. Willing, the offensive line, and why he feels coaching at BYU has been the greatest coaching experience of his career.