Utah State football: Senior running back not taking anything for granted in final season at Utah State

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2 2012 10:41 a.m. MDT

Utah State Aggies running back Kerwynn Williams (25) runs by UNLV Rebels defensive back Tim Hasson (43) in Logan Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

When it comes to the game of football, Kerwynn Williams (Las Vegas, Nev.) believes the success he has seen all boils down to preparation. The senior running back and kick returner has been a solid part of the Utah State football program for four years now and said he is constantly striving to balance his time and be completely ready before each week’s game.

That preparation is both physical and mental. The two go hand-in-hand to ensure Williams puts his best foot forward from beginning to end.

“To be prepared mentally, I have to study the defense. I have to know what the other team is going to bring into the game and know how they play. You’ve got to watch a lot of film,” Williams said.

The work in getting ready for a game or practice, or anything else, carries over to the physical readiness and precautions as well.

“To prepare myself physically, I have to make sure my body is in great shape. I have to make sure I’m always healthy. I have to get into the cold tub even though I don’t like it. I have to stay on top of the small injuries so they don’t become big injuries,” Williams said.

In his time at Utah State, there is only one game Williams has not seen action in, his very first game as a freshman. However, at this point in his career, there is more pressure to step up.

In the absence of former Aggie running backs Robert Turbin and Michael Smith, who have moved on to play in the National Football League, the role of starter, leader and finisher has moved to Williams.

“I definitely have to step up in more of a leadership role. They were both great leaders who were very vocal. They knew how things should be run and how the game should be played,” Williams said. “I’ve had to step out of my shell and do a bit more talking both on and off the field. I’ve had to step up to fill the position as well.”

A large part of the role Williams strives to fill happens with an air of consistency.

“My biggest role is to be that constant player,” Williams said. “Being constant is doing the same thing every game so people know what to expect from me.”

Williams sees his consistency as key, not just for himself, but for everyone else involved in the program.

“It makes it easier for coaches; it makes it easier for other players around you. It makes it so people can trust that you’re going to get your job done,” Williams said.

The Utah State coaches are quick to attest to the benefit Williams is to their football program. Running backs coach Mike Sanford is in his first year at Utah State but has already enjoyed having the opportunity of working with Williams.

“Kerwynn is a very bright young man, a very fast young man and very competitive and serious,” Sanford said. “He wants to be really good and do things right. He is everything you want in a player.”

Williams has a lot to live up to and look forward to during his senior season. He is coming off a highly successful junior campaign, entering his final season with his name in various record books 10 different times for not only USU but the Western Athletic Conference and Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS) as well, highlighted by holding the WAC record for career kick return yards, currently with 3,392 yards. Those statistics are complemented by a number of preseason awards, including being named a candidate for the prestigious Doak Walker Award.

For some student-athletes, the possibility of such awards would be cause for them to focus on really building their stat lines, the resume of a football player. That is one area Williams is not like other athletes.

“My goal is to do whatever it takes to get the ‘W’. The only stats I really care about are wins and losses,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, I don’t care what everything else says. Whatever it takes to get the team goal accomplished.”

The team goal is pretty basic, wanting to continue to build on the success from head coach Gary Andersen’s tenure. The next step the team plans to take is to end the season as champions of the WAC, as well as with a postseason bowl game win.

“Going from Point A, where we were my freshman year, to where we are now has been great,” Williams said. “I’ve had a wonderful experience here.”

Williams said the biggest lesson he has learned through a life of football is to just accept any advice and help he may be given.

“You have to absorb all the information you get from older players and from your coaches. Just know that everything they say is trying to help you, not make you miserable,” Williams said. “I take it all in and take it in stride. All the criticism is good criticism. There’s no such thing as bad criticism. Take everything people say and just go with it.”

Williams will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. His focus and dedication to his final season of Aggie football have him trying not to think too far or hard beyond that.

“Only time will tell. Whatever’s available to me is what I want to see happen,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to get past this season first.”

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