IT Goes One-On-One With Roy Williams

Rare is the occasion when senior SE and Heisman Trophy candidate <B>Roy Williams </B>does not have a horde of microphones and television cameras thrust in his face. <I>Inside Texas </I>caught up with the Legend, in single coverage, just before varsity athletes reported for preseason workouts Wednesday.

One of the reasons Williams gave for deferring the megabucks of NFL stardom and returning for his senior year was that he knew he could get better. He says he already has.

"I think it’s in my route running," Williams said. "We really can’t run-block out there in the summer time, but I’m going to get better at that during this camp. That’s one of the things I’ll be focusing on. As far as route running goes, I think I have improved. I think it will show August 31 (in the home opener against New Mexico State)."

Part of Williams’ self-imposed job description was to help break-in new quarterbacks junior Chance Mock and RS-freshman Vince Young. The tutoring went will into the summer when several key players met for volunteer practice sessions. But the first couple of days of spring training gave Williams pause to consider his decision to return for one more year of college ball.

"The first two days was rough," Williams said. "In fact, it was real rough for me. I was like, ‘What did I get myself into?’ Those guys, I’d pat ‘em on the butt and say ‘Let’s go.’ By the end of the spring, Chance only missed one pass in the Spring Game. Vincent improved. This summer, we got a little bit more technical with the timing of our routes. We’re ready to go."

Williams, meanwhile, is thrilled to finally get tosses from a right-handed QB.

"For three years, it’s been abnormal," he said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "Right now, we’re back to normal. It’s back to what we’re used to."

Along with lockdown CB Nathan Vasher, Williams heads a senior class that has never lost a home game, but will be tested when No. 5 Kansas State, traditional power Nebraska and old nemesis Arkansas come calling.

"Me and Nathan, we know that this is our year," Williams said confidently.

Earlier Wednesday, head coach Mack Brown spoke of the need for easing the freshmen into the system since incoming classes no longer have four days of orientation prior to preseason practice.

"If those (freshmen) defensive backs jump out there to cover Roy, (FL) B.J. Johnson and (SE) Sloan Thomas in the morning, they may go home before practice is over," Brown said. "In the past we’ve had four days to prepare them for that."

Williams approach leans more toward a trial by fire, stating that varsity athletes should be "in their faces."

"That’s how this league is," Williams commented. "In the Big 12, they’re not going to let you do what they want to do. You’ve got to go out there and earn it so we’re not going to take it easy on them. They’ve got to go out there and get used to how Texas football is played."

Despite being hampered half the 2002 season with a hamstring injury, Williams tallied 64 receptions (No. 3 on UT's single-season list) for 1,142 yards (No. 2) and a school-record 12 TDs.

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