Williams sets his sights on a MAC championship

Doug Gulasy

Senior defensive back Jack Williams looks forward to a winning season with hopes of capturing the MAC championship. “The season was in our hands (last year), and we didn’t finish what we started,” Williams said. Last season, Williams tied for the national

Credit: Jason Hall

Jack Williams tries not to trash-talk too much, but sometimes he just can’t help it.

The senior cornerback made some waves Oct. 14, when, after the Flashes pounded Toledo, 40-14, he spoke out about Toledo players trash-talking and jumping on the midfield logo at Dix Stadium before the game.

“That’s like someone coming to your house and putting their feet on your coffee table,” Williams told the Stater at the time. “That’s disrespect.”

Williams laughed when the incident and his quote were brought up recently.

“Everybody calls me ‘The Mouth of the South,'” he said. “I consider myself a little talker, but I try to keep it down because the coaches really don’t like that kind of stuff.”

However much Williams does speak up, he usually backs it up with his play on the field. Last season he tied for the national lead with five forced fumbles and was tied for the team lead in interceptions with four. In the fateful Toledo game last season, he intercepted two passes, returning one for a second-quarter touchdown.

Such play has made him one of the most recognizable players on the team and perhaps the face of the defense, though Williams trys to downplay that a bit.

“Being ‘the face of the defense’, I don’t mind it, but it’s not like I consider my self the face of the defense, like I’ve got to be the man,” he said. “I just try to do whatever I can for the team.”

And that includes being a leader for some of the younger players in the secondary.

“If they see me jogging on a play, then they’ll think that they can jog on a play or something like that,” Williams said. “So I just try to work as hard as possible to set a good example for them because they’re going to be the future.”

Secondary coach Scott Booker vouched for Williams’ commitment to those coming through the ranks.

“He’s a guy that always works with the younger corners and always talks to them about things that he sees and things that have made him successful over the years,” Booker said. “He’s also a guy that just doesn’t talk the talk but walks the walk also. He’s a guy that will stay extra, do extra drills, he’s a guy that’ll run stadium stairs extra, and he’s just been a great leader, he and (senior safety) Fritz Jacques.”

If Williams’ leadership is effective, it could be an even better season than last for the Flashes’ defense, which ranked second in the Mid-American Conference and 25th in the nation last season. Part of the reason for such a strong season was certainly the play of Williams.

“Much of what we do defensively stems from how Jack’s able to cover,” defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis said. “It’s a work in progress, but we’ve developed most of what we do beginning last year.

“He]s a guy that can play press coverage when the formation allows him to do it, so we’re able to do some other things on the other side that we weren’t normally able to do.”

Defending the passing game isn’t Williams’ only strength – Rekstis also called him a “very physical run player.”

Those skills and more – Williams is also “a playmaker” and has “great speed” in Booker’s words – give him and fellow senior Jacques a good chance to follow two members of the secondary from the 2006 team to the NFL. Cornerback Usama Young was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by New Orleans and safety Andre Kirkland signed as an undrafted free agent with St. Louis.

“I try not to focus on it because that’s a ways away from right now,” Williams said. “But as far as like going to the NFL, that’s definitely a dream of mine.”

However, there’s something else Williams wants to do first: win a championship. Last year’s team lost four out of its last five games to finish 6-6, and he has said that anything less than a MAC championship this year will be a disappointment.

“The season was in our hands (last year), and we didn’t finish what we started,” Williams said. “That’s why we made our slogan ‘Finish,’because last year was a stepping stone, but this year we’re basically trying to finish up.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].