Jace Williams can line up just about anywhere in the Washburn offense, leading to a little confusion about the true position of the Buhler product.
“People ask me what position I play and I say, ‘Uhhh, I don’t know,’ ” Williams said. “I go with the receivers, but last game I had my hand on the ground and I’ll line up in the backfield every once and a while.
“I think with my size, just being tall and pretty big (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), you can do a lot.”
Wherever he lines up, MIAA defenses will have to start accounting for Williams.
The sophomore has seven catches for a team-high 92 yards and two touchdowns for the 1-1 Ichabods, who will play Lindenwood at 6 p.m. Saturday in St. Charles, Mo.
“He’s a unique matchup for teams because he’s got really good size, he’s got great hands and he’s got good athletic ability and speed,” WU coach Craig Schurig said. “He’s a tough matchup, particularly when teams want to play man coverage. We feel like we’re going to give him a chance and he should win most of those battles.”
Willams had the upperhand in one-on-one matchups against Northwest Missouri, scoring both of the Ichabods’ touchdowns in a 20-14 loss to the Bearcats this past Thursday.
Williams already has two one-handed grabs on the season. He snagged a ball down the middle for a 29-yard gain against Northeastern State and then plucked one out of the air for 12 yards against Northwest, setting up his first touchdown on the night.
“You just got to catch the ball however you can,” Williams said. “I’ve got long arms and pretty big hands, so if I can get a hand on it … The first one I kind of had to tip to myself and had to juggle a little bit. The second one hit my hand and just stuck.”
Williams also caught a 13-yard TD over a defensive back to bring the Ichabods within a score late in the fourth quarter against Northwest.
“Usually, you play the way you practice, and he makes (tough catches) a lot in practice,” Schurig said.
Williams, who caught three passes for 83 yards with a touchdown last season as a true freshman, is taking on a more prominent role in the offense as a sophomore.
“He played quarterback in high school, so you can do a lot of different things with him and he picks it up,” Schurig said. “Some kids, it takes a lot of reps to get something and he’s not that way. You basically teach it, give him a rep at it and he’s got it. He’s a fast learner.”
Williams was the quarterback on Buhler’s football team and also starred in baseball and basketball for the Crusaders. He had his pick of the three sports to play in college and ultimately chose to play basketball and football at Washburn.
“I didn’t know which one I wanted to play in college,” said Williams, who redshirted last year with the basketball team. “I looked at all my opportunities and I really liked this school and the opportunity to play football and basketball seemed appealing.”
After football season, Williams said he will be eager to take the court for new Washburn basketball coach Brett Ballard and the Ichabods, who return most of the roster from last season’s 20-10 campaign.
“I’m obviously focused on football but (the basketball) offices are right across the hallway and I see the coaches all the time, see the players all the time,” Williams said. “It’s going to be an exciting year because the basketball team brings all the starters back and they were pretty good, and the football team’s played well and hopefully we continue to play well.”
Lindenwood is coming off its first win under head coach Jed Stugart after the Lions posted a 49-10 win over Northeastern State last week.
“We need to eliminate mistakes, because mistakes hurt us last game and even the first game,” Williams said. “We need to keep eliminating mistakes and keep playing our brand of football. And we have to try to slow down their speed. They’re a pretty fast team but I think we have the speed to match up well.”
WASHBURN AT LINDENWOOD
Kickoff: 6 p.m. Saturday, Hunter Stadium, St. Charles, Mo.
Radio: KTPK-FM (106.9)
Records: Washburn 1-1, 1-1 MIAA, Lindenwood 1-1, 1-1
Next: Nebraska-Kearney at Washburn, 1 p.m. Sept. 23