Desmond Williams Has Made The Transition From QB To WR A Smooth One

October 20, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Oct. 20, 2008

ODU wide receiver coach Keita Malloy doesn't hand out praise to freshmen very often, so you have to take notice when he speaks so positively about Desmond Williams.

"I told him something that I tell very few freshmen," said Malloy. "If he continues to progress and do the things I've seen him do, he may have a shot at playing at the next level."

It's not something you hear everyday about a wide receiver that didn't catch one single ball during the first day of camp, except in Williams defense, it was his first time ever playing the position.

Coming out of little known Bertie High School in North Carolina where he played quarterback, Williams flew below the radar on most recruiters white boards. However, the Monarchs came into the picture right on time thanks to an assist from the ODU basketball program and assistant coach John Richardson.

"Coach Richardson actually told me about Desmond Williams," added first-year assistant Zohn Burden who recruits the area of North Carolina near Bertie High School. "The school is located in the country so Desmond got very few looks, but I saw his film and immediately thought he could play three positions for us. He could play wide receiver, running back and quarterback."

Several weeks later Williams visited the ODU campus and before returning home offered his verbal commitment to the program.

What Coach Burden saw during the recruiting process and what Monarch defenders are now seeing in practice is a player that possesses great athleticism, football quickness and the ability to make people miss. At Bertie, Williams was the offense, passing for 2,100 yards, rushing for 1,500 yards and accounting for 38 touchdowns as a senior, earning Northeastern Coastal League Player of the Year honors. Despite his success as a quarterback, the Monarch coaches have used him in a number of other ways, something Williams is perfectly fine with as long as he has the opportunity to make plays.

"I still want to play quarterback, but I like the way they're using me and moving me around," says the 5-foot-11, 190 pound Williams who stepped in and player cornerback for an injured starter in the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game after never having played the position. "As long as I'm touching the ball I don't really care where I play. I'm not a selfish person."

Spend a few minutes at an ODU practice and it's easy to see why Coach Burden, who assists with the Monarch defensive backs, calls Williams the offense's biggest threat. He lines up at wide receiver, running back, H-back and even takes direct snaps at quarterback as offensive coordinator Brian Scott finds ways to get the ball into Williams' hands. Whether it's coming out of the backfield and taking a handoff, lining up outside and catching passes, or on punt returns, when the ball is in his hands Williams shows an explosiveness that is unmatched.

After never having played wide receiver before, the transition has not been an easy one for Williams. However, he does have the advantage of having played quarterback and that helps him be that much better with his timing and routes in his new role as a receiver.

"Playing quarterback in high school is an advantage for me now because it helps with game awareness and field presence. I know how to think like a quarterback in different situations. Whether it's seeing coverage, reading defenses, or adjusting routes, it's easier having played quarterback," says Williams.

Another factor contributing to Williams' smooth transition is his relationship with Coach Malloy who is no stranger to the CAA, having played wide receiver and defensive back at Delaware. The two have formed a bond on and off the field that is based on their mutual respect.

"I like Coach Malloy a lot, we have a great relationship," says Williams. "I feel like I can talk to him about anything and when you have a relationship like that with your coach off the field, it makes the relationship on the field that much better. I like Coach Malloy and appreciate everything he's done for me."

What he's done in less than three months is help Williams develop into the type of player the Monarchs will need when they begin competing in the CAA in 2011.

"Desmond is well above the curve athletically and in all of the other attributes we look for in a receiver in this offense," said Malloy. He's a good route runner, has good hands, is strong and has that straight line speed - an explosive guy that can turn the game around in one play. That's the kind of guy you need in this conference with the type of competition we'll be facing. If he keeps working the way I've seen him work, the sky is the limit for this kid."