2 Minute Drill with Jaron Williams

With the stellar performances of David Vobora and the emergence of newcomer Jo Artis Ratti, very little spotlight has been focused on senior JARON WILLIAMS, Idaho's starting middle linebacker through the first five weeks of this season. But the 6-1, 217-pounder is having the best season of his career, and will be a key member of Idaho's MIKE rotation for the rest of this season.

Jaron Williams is one of just SEVEN recruits left from the class of 2002 (the complete class of 27 included 12 JC transfers, plus remaining classmates Mike Barrow, Robert Davis, Keith Greer, Wendell Octave, Jade Tadvick, and Nate VanderPol). He's been an active part of the Vandal linebacker rotation for two years, having been the top MIKE backup to last year's star Cole Snyder, and this year battled to the top of the depth chart for the season opener at Michigan State.

Williams began emerging as one of Idaho's top middle linebackers during spring drills.
But battling is nothing new for Jaron, and time-and-time-again he has risen to the challenge.

As a senior at Muir High School in 2001 Williams moved over from tightend to linebacker and was a "natural" at the position. That year he recorded 70 tackles, 6 pass deflections, 4 quarterback sacks, and 1 interception. He was described in one publication as being extremely explosive to the ball. The Los Angeles Daily News pegged Jaron as one of Muir's top 5 players, and described him as a "Nightmare for opposing RBs".

He redshirted his first season at Idaho, and spent much of the next two years on the scout team. In 2004 he played in a backup role through the first six game then had his season cut short with an injury. Last fall he played in all 11 games as a backup linebacker and on the special teams unit.

Williams started the first five games at MIKE this fall.
Then this spring he engaged in a battle for the top MIKE spot with fellow senior Robert Davis. The two continued to compete for starting duties throughout summer drills and fall camp, and both played in Idaho's early games. But Williams earned the starting nod for the season opener and has seen the lion's share of playing time along newcomer Joartis Ratti, a JC transfer regarded as one of the top JC linebacker recruits in the country. Last week Ratti claimed the top spot on the MIKE chart, but Williams continues to see significant playing time and will be a key to Idaho's success as the season progresses. He has substantially increased his productivity this year, and has recorded 14 tackles on the season, including 13 solo takedowns and 2 tackles for loss. Aside from the productivity, he's an experienced 'backer who brings a lot of playing time at the Division 1 level to the table.

This week Williams took time out of his schedule preparing for Louisiana Tech to talk with us about his career at Idaho and to discuss his development over the years in Moscow.

VV: Jaron, you've been here at Idaho through three coaching changes now, and as a senior you've been the starting middle linebacker. You're getting a lot of playing time in your career. There's a solid rotation now at linebacker now with you and Jo-Artis rotating in and out throughout the game, but what has changed the most in your game this year moving you to the top of the depth chart at Mike?

JW: I think it's experience...and opportunity as well. Last year, as you know, it was Cole Snyder. He was a real good linebacker. He knew everything well. He kinda passed that down to me, and now it's my chance and I'm showing some of it in the opportunity that they're giving me now. Just basically learning the defense better, and being able to play within the defense.

VV: Have you noticed a lot of changes in the defenses under the three different coaches here?

JW: Oh yes, I do. Yes I do. (chuckles). I noticed a lot of changes.

VV: You've obviously developed a lot in the last five years. What do say you do the best as a middle linebacker at Idaho? In other words, what's the strength of your game at linebacker?

JW: Passion, and going hard every play, you know, and reading my keys basically. Just trying to play every play like it's my last. I think that's my strength, you know, and trying to play big when I'm small for a middle linebacker...

VV: Idaho's had a pretty solid group of linebackers now for a couple of years, and this year is obviously no different. How has it been for you to play for Coach Nansen for three years, and how has he helped you develop over the years here?

JW: Technique. He coaches technique, like that's his big thing – footwork, technique, and a lot of passion - like a lot of aggression - a lot of everything. Every chip you hold on your shoulder, everything you've got in your heart, all the pain in your body, everything. He wants to put it out on the field. He wants you to expose it on the field every time you play. He wants you to be really aggressive but [play with] "controlled disorder." That's what he wants you to be. Controlled disorder…just controlled chaos, some might say. He wants you to be a controlled chaos person in the middle, playing hard, running around...hitting. That's it.

VV: When you first got into this defense, the way you run it now, did you have trouble staying under control all the time, making the adjustments?

JW: Yes. It was a lot of reads at first, but now it seems so simple, like, I can't understand why other people don't get it (laughs). Yeah, at first it was just hard to read keys before Coach Nansen got here.

VV: Now you've had six games this year, and of the six which team would you say had the best offense that you've played against and why?

JW: The best team with the best offense? All of them were decent. All the teams we played had a decent offense … I don't know. I really don't know the best offense. I think they were all qualified and all good in their own little way; so I don't really know the best one.

Through the first six games of 2006 Williams has 14 tackles on the year (13 solo), including two tackles for loss.

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