Electrifying, game-changing, and triple-threat. These words just begin to describe the play of former Washburn football standout Cary Williams, arguably the top defensive back on the Division II landscape in 2007 and a seventh-round selection of the Tennessee Titans in last week’s NFL Draft.
Williams was an explosive kick-returner for the Ichabods, averaging 28.6 yards per return. Two resulted in touchdowns, including one for 100 yards. In addition, he led the MIAA with seven interceptions.
“I spoke with Cary and he was extremely excited after being drafted,” said Washburn football coach Craig Schurig. “I think that he has an excellent chance to make the team [Titans]. He has all the physical skills necessary to play at the NFL level. He is an elite athlete with a strong desire to succeed.”
Replacing Williams will be difficult for Schurig.
“The underneath coverage should pick up where Cary left off,” said Schurig. “Guys like Zach Watkins [junior-inside linebacker], Michael Wilhoite [junior- outside linebacker] and Eric Lawrence [senior-defensive end] will be our big play guys. Even without Cary, I feel that we will be very strong defensively, especially up front.”
One of the more physically gifted players left after Williams’ departure is senior running back/wide receiver Brandon Walker. Last season Walker racked up a combined 1,214 yards while scoring 13 touchdowns. He made his biggest impression at tailback, rushing for 760 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. It is expected that Walker will play a more significant role as a kick-returner during the upcoming season after returning only three kickoffs for 60 yards in 2007.
“Cary was a great player who led by his actions on the field,” said Walker. “I see myself as being able to break off the big plays like Cary, but I’m also a more vocal leader than Cary was.”
Walker, who will be the focal point of Washburn’s offense, says he prefers playing tailback more than wide receiver. His wish should be granted, with Washburn losing their leading rusher, Ra’Shawn Mosley.
Another player on the Ichabod roster with big play potential is sophomore running back/kick returner Terrence Lowe. Standing at just 5 feet 8 inches, the speedy Lowe should have an increased workload at running back after averaging a team-high 6.6 yards per carry last year. Lowe should also be a major factor on special teams, where he averaged 20.2 yards on 16 returns.
“Terrence and Brandon both have the speed to take kickoffs back,” said Schurig. “We still have big play potential in the kick game.”
Schurig will rely heavily on cornerbacks Xavier Beckford, Jack Forck and free safety Casey Curran, all seniors, to build the secondary around. Schurig also made defensive back a high priority on the recruiting trail, bringing in a number of talented players who could make an immediate impact to a secondary in a rebuilding mode after losing both Williams and standout cornerback Fletcher Terrell, who nearly made the Jacksonville Jaguars roster in 2007.
Incoming Ichabod DB’s
LaMarcus Betts6-foot, 208-pound freshman strong safety from Memphis, Tenn. – Melrose High School
Jon Clark6-foot-2, 190-pound freshman strong safety from St. Peter’s, Mo. – Francis Howell Central High School
Pierre Desir6-foot-2, 178-pound freshman defensive back/returner from St. Peter’s, Mo. – Francis Howell Central High School
Tyler Hill6-foot-0, 186-pound freshman cornerback from Lee’s Summit, Mo. – Lee’s Summit High School
Patrick Myrick6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman athlete from Greenville, N.C. – Fork Union Military Academy
Eddrick Wiggins6-foot-0, 175-pound freshman defensive back from Lubbock, Texas – Frenship High School