The Heisman Trophy is one of the most treasured awards in all of sports. Although the award is not just about statistics, and it's very early in the season, junior Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is putting up Heisman-like numbers. The national media has definitely noticed the talented quarterback, but Williams is more focused on his team than himself.
"Yes, I've heard some talk about that, but there's a lot of season left," Williams said. "I'm not in this for personal awards. It's a great accomplishment for anyone to even be mentioned for the award."
Part of being a great quarterback is being confident. "My confidence is real high right now," Williams acknowledged. "It's my third year in the offense and all the hard work I did in the off-season is paying off for me right now."
One of the reasons Williams is generating a lot of hype is his versatility. He's not just a passing quarterback or a running quarterback; he can hurt opponents equally with his legs and his arm.
"If I had the choice, I'd rather pass the ball then get all those rushing yards," Williams stated. "That means I'm getting everyone involved. The wide receivers and the running backs are getting the ball and the offensive line gets credit for some of it too."
In two games this season Williams has rushed for a team-leading 231 yards on 31 carries for an average of 5.3 yards a carry and two touchdowns. From the passing side of things, Williams has completed 42 out of 67 passes for 575 yards and six touchdowns. He has a nice completion percentage rate of 62.7 percent to boot.
"I've been really looking forward to the OSU and the USC game," Williams said. "It's going to be a great one. I'm all for the Big Ten. I grew up an USC fan but I want the Big Ten to show what they can do, show what kind of athletes we have. But if the Big Ten wants to show people what we can do we have to do it in some of these non-conference games and in bowl games."
Williams has grown in every aspect of the game. His physical gifts are even more pronounced and his maturity level has gotten even higher. There are many reasons he is putting up big numbers, but most of all his improvement is rooted in a belief in knowing that if you work at something it will pay off. Head Coach Ron Zook never gave into the media when Williams struggled at times as a freshman or sophomore. He stuck by his star quarterback and now it seems that Zook saw all the right things in Williams when others wanted a change.