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Hearing From the Washington Quarterbacks After Practice

Washington Quarterback

After the fourth practice of the Spring, we had our first chance to hear from the quarterbacks at media availability. Washington’s quarterback room looks very different than it did last season. It’s led by a transfer quarterback and backed up by two true freshmen who would otherwise still be in high school. Offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll has discussed how the offense will run a more balanced, pro-style this season. That’s much different from last year’s passing attack under the previous staff. As such, there was a lot to ask when talking to the quarterbacks after practice.

New Team, New Leader

Mississippi State transfer Will Rogers III joined the program with its new staff in January. He was an established veteran in Starkville for four seasons where he orchestrated one of the best offenses in the nation in multiple seasons. But like many of the players in the Washington locker room, Rogers is new to the program. He’s only been on campus since January. So I asked him what he was doing to establish himself as a leader in such a short time.

Rogers said, “I obviously don’t have four years here to do it, I have six months to become a leader.” He articulated that he’s using what he learned in his four years at Mississippi State to forge himself as a leader of this newly built program. Rogers listed the little things he does that he wants to help make that difference. Whether it be working the hardest or being the first one in the facilities and the last one to leave. Ultimately, Rogers said that he wants to, “Show the guys in the locker room that ‘Hey, winning is the most important thing to me.’ If I’m in this locker room I’m going to give my all for everybody in here.”

Rogers isn’t going to be the loud, “raw-raw” kind of leader, but he is already leading by the example he explained in his comments. Fisch spoke about him after the first practice as an, “Incredibly hard worker who loves football [and is] extremely smart.” He also said that the quarterback has, “Outstanding command of the offense, you listen to him talk to the players… and [he’s] also a great fan of his teammates.” When we observe him from the sidelines, Rogers is vocally in charge of the offense when he’s under center and is always the first guy we see congratulating players on big plays. It’s clear that his leadership as a quarterback is already taking shape at Washington.

“Numbers” for Will Rogers III

Rogers is the presumed starter and the only one in this Washington quarterback room who has taken a snap in college. But he has taken more than just a snap. Rogers played four seasons at Mississippi State where he became the second-leading passer in SEC history with 12,315 yards. He also set an SEC record of 505 completions in 2021 and was a part of one of the more prolific offensive attacks in the country under Mike Leach. Those numbers will be in record books for years.

“Numbers” were what initially attracted Rogers to Washington and the previous staff last winter. An offense like last year’s Husky offense was seemingly a perfect fit for the fifth-year quarterback. And that didn’t change in January when Jedd Fisch took over the program. Rogers talked about the numbers that Fisch’s Arizona team produced during his time in Tucson. He also mentioned how well Fisch has developed quarterbacks and how important his NFL experience is to him as a quarterback saying, “[Fisch’s] experience in the NFL really attracted me.” For Rogers, it’s about leading a winning team while working to play on Sundays. “At the end of the day, I think everybody wants to play football at the next level. And I think Coach Fisch is the best person for that, especially for quarterbacks.”

Washington quarterback Will Rogers III

The Husky offense is going to run a pro-style next season. It isn’t an air raid that we were used to seeing Rogers operate in at Mississippi State. It’s an NFL system with NFL terminology. But Rogers said, “I’m learning just like everybody else is, and I’m trying to just be a sponge and soak up everything I can.” A pro-style offense likely isn’t going to light up the passing game stats column like an air-raid. But those aren’t the numbers Rogers is concerned with. He said it’s winning. “I think if you win, everything takes care of itself.”

Demond Williams Jr.’s Adjustment, or Lack Thereof

One of the 20 Elite 11 Finalists from the 2024 class is suited up in purple and gold for the Huskies. Demond Williams Jr. was one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits who is already showing why on the Washington practice field. Williams has made some head-turning throws, and quick escapes out of the pocket, and has shown his explosive speed as a mobile quarterback through just over a week of practice. He also has the confidence of a multi-year starter. Williams’ presence on the field and his demeanor with the media come off as a guy who is poised to make a statement as a true freshman. But the jump from playing high school football just a year ago to now, where he’s running with the second team at a Big Ten football program, is significant. I asked him about that adjustment and how he’s handling the change.

Washington quarterback Demond Williams, Jr.

Williams said, “I went to a pretty competitive high school [that] played a lot of big-name schools… I would say it’s not too crazy of a difference, but obviously, the speed is definitely different.” Williams spoke highly of Basha High School, where he played four years of varsity quarterback in Chandler, Arizona. Williams threw 93 touchdowns and rushed for 42 more in four seasons for the Bears. He went 32-4 in his sophomore through senior seasons including a state title in 2022. The step to the next level might be a big difference for most, but Williams isn’t letting it impact his confidence or his play style.

Williams was also asked about if he plans to push to become the team’s starter as a true freshman. He just smiled and said “That’s the goal, that should always be the goal, to compete.” Washington’s quarterback room might not be the deepest, but the leadership and confidence of the group is already beginning to look like it could be the difference for this team next season.


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