Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

New tailback in town

It was a cold day in December when Josh Williams made the trip from Downers Grove, Ill. to Whitewater, Wis. to catch the NCAA Division-III quarterfinal game between Salisbury University and UW-Whitewater.

The Warhawks delivered. Coming out on top 34-14, but the game wasn’t the only thing they won that day.

They also won over Williams, who after seeing campus for the first time and experiencing the atmosphere of a playoff football game at Perkins Stadium, decided UW-Whitewater would be the school of his choice. He wasn’t just choosing where he’d be receiving his education, like so many other 17 and 18 year-olds do, he was also deciding where he was going to be playing his college football.

Williams had a decorated playing career at Downers Grove South High School where he rushed for 2,338 yards and 33 touchdowns with an additional 185 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

While he had interest from D-I programs, Williams chose UW-Whitewater for the football tradition and the academics.

“For me it was just [about] where I could fit in on a team and where I could contribute,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to just sit back and watch, I wanted to contribute and help the team win.”

With the departure of record-breaking running back Levell Coppage, the ’Hawks have had an open competition for running back.

Senior Desmin Ward is the lone holdover at running back with a bruising style of play. In addition to Ward, Illinois State transfer and former Milwaukee Riverside standout Ryan Givens is also battling for playing time.

Despite the depth of talent at running back, Williams is certainly a contender given his accomplishments throughout his high school football career.

His production in high school speaks for itself. His elite athleticism (4.45 40 yard dash, 39 inch vertical leap) is sure to position him for playing time opportunities.

Coppage is leaving behind a legacy that Williams and others are looking to fill. It wasn’t long ago that former Warhawk running back Justin Beaver left behind his own legacy, one that was filled by Coppage.

Putting Williams in the same breath as Coppage and Beaver might be premature, but taking into account his high school production and athleticism; it seems plausible. Williams said he’s ready for the challenge.

“Knowing that I have the potential to be just as good or even surpass that … is a once in a life time opportunity.”

With camp behind them, the ’Hawks head to St. Louis on Friday to play Washington University, where  the three potential running backs will fight for time.

“We’re all great athletes at the running back position. We all have a chance to play in the game Friday night so we’ll have to see.”

With the first regular season game just days away, Williams says the difference between high school football and college football is night and day.

“It’s a lot different,” Williams said. “We did a lot of the same things in high school that we do here in our offense but conditioning is a lot harder. In high school, football’s something that a lot of guys do for fun but now in college, you have to put your whole heart into it and make it your life.”

The Warhawk offense will look different this year without Quarterback Matt Blanchard and Coppage. Blanchard now plays in the NFL for the Chicago Bears while Coppage is looking to play in Europe. The ’Hawks have also lost All-WIAC tackle Logan Allemand, who graduated last year.

Former UW-LaCrosse quarterback Lee Brekke will take over under center. Brekke led the ’Hawks to a national championship in the 2010 playoffs when Blanchard went down with an injury.

The offensive line returns three starters and will look to build on a promising 2011 campaign.

Whether it’s Williams or one of the other potentials who blocks for this returning offensive line, Williams said it’s a privilege to even have the opportunity to fill the shoes of players who have left a winning tradition behind.

“It makes me feel great knowing that people before me have constructed something where I’m going to be held to such a high standard,” Williams said.

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Founded 1901
New tailback in town