Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Demond Williams Jr. is Turning Heads at Washington Practice

Spring practice has been underway for just two weeks. The calendar still says April. And if he hadn’t enrolled early, Demond Williams Jr. would otherwise still be a high school senior. But the quarterback has already made his presence on the Washington football roster known. The Elite 11 accolades and four-star rating put him on the map as a recruit. But what he’s doing at practice in a college football uniform is turning heads already.

Williams As A Thrower

Williams throws, arguably, the best football in the quarterback room at Washington. His throwing mechanics are compact and quick, wasting little movement on his delivery. The football bounces out of his hands, not seeming to need much effort to deliver the ball vertically or to the sidelines. On multiple occasions, Williams has shown his ability to put touch on the football and place it in the hands of receivers 30 or 40 yards downfield. He can also release the football with velocity to multiple levels. The quarterback has changed arm angles to fit it through the front level of defenders and has driven it to the sidelines over the middle level of the defense. 

On Saturday’s sixth practice of Spring, Williams tossed five touchdowns during the 11-on-11 team drills. His second and third touchdown passes were the most impressive. The offense lined up around the 30 yard line approaching the end zone. Williams took the snap and delivered a lofty throw that traveled over 35 air yards towards the far sideline of the East end zone. Jeremiah Hunter was en route and the ball was placed where only he could get it. Hunter had a step on the cornerback and reached down to catch it as he fell to the turf. The offense erupted in celebration and Williams celebrated in the end zone with Hunter.

A few plays later, the offense lined up in a red zone simulation outside of the same end zone. This time, Williams took the snap and showed the other tools he has as a passer. Owen Coutts came open in the back of the end zone and the quarterback fired the football over the defense and into the hands of a leaping Coutts. The football had tremendous velocity and was placed in a spot where either his receiver would catch it or nobody would catch it. Once again, the offense was on the field celebrating. Williams finished Saturday’s practice with just four incompletions on 20 attempts during 11-on-11. 

Williams As A Runner

Then there’s his mobility in-and-out of the pocket. Williams has shown that he’s a pass-first quarterback throughout the Spring on Montlake. But when the pocket breaks down or if his receivers aren’t open, he can elude pressure at a high level. His acceleration from first gear to full speed is almost instantaneous. We’ve seen Williams pop through a folding pocket and get quickly into the second level of the defense on multiple occasions. 

During Saturday’s practice, he did just that in one of the 11-on-11 sessions. Williams saw the pocket was closing and he escaped forward, angling towards the far sideline to his right. He straightened out in the middle of the defense before cutting left all the way to the near sideline. He gained over 25 yards on the play before darting out of bounds right in front of us. The play received audible “woah’s” along the sideline with the media.

On another occasion, Williams also scrambled out of the pocket in the red zone straight up the middle for a touchdown. His head-turning acceleration was on display for both of these plays. Williams told us in his media availability last week that he ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash at Elite 11 last summer. 

On The Field First

For nearly the entire duration of Spring practice thus far, Williams Jr. had been running with the second team. There’s no official depth chart yet, so there’s no true “second team.” But all of his 11-on-11 reps had come after Will Rogers III. That changed on Saturday. For the first time of the Spring, we saw Williams Jr. get on the field first for the 11-on-11 live session at the end of practice. He lined up next to Jonah Coleman at running back, with Denzel Boston and Hunter split out wide. The quarterback would make it worthwhile.

At the beginning of the session, Boston broke free on an outside release. The football came out of Williams Jr.’s hands with great anticipation of the coverage and of Boston’s step. By the time Boston looked up, the football was already floating towards the end zone from about 40 yards out. Directly in front of us, the receiver maintained stride down the sideline and caught it on the run for a touchdown. The throw looked like it came from a quarterback who had multiple years of chemistry with his wide receiver, not just six practices. Williams Jr.’s anticipation, ball placement, and touch on the deep throw had us all taking note.

Williams Jr. is listed at 5’-11”. While he’s showing he has the tools at quarterback, there’s always the question of if he can see the field as well as a taller quarterback. That hasn’t seemed to be an issue thus far. Williams Jr. showed what he can do in the face of sizable pressure. Towards the end of the practice session, Williams Jr. delivered the football to a slant route over the middle. The quarterback dipped his throwing hand on the release, changing his arm angle to fit it between a rushing defender and his offensive line. His sidearm release was on target for a gain.

Confidence is Key

One thing that you can’t teach is confidence, and Williams has it. The quarterback commands the offense when he’s on the field and doesn’t seem hesitant to make decisions in the pocket. Through six practices, he throws the football deep at the highest rate. When it’s not there, he is confident to tuck it and make plays with his feet. 

He told us last week that his goal is to compete for the starting job. It’s a tall task going against the SEC’s second all time leading passer, but he’s showing that he’s up for the challenge. Williams also told us that his adjustment to playing at the college level is, “Not to crazy of a difference, but… the speed is definitely different.” You don’t often hear that from a true freshman. But with Williams, his football skills are already translating to the next level. What we’ve seen through half of the Spring is a quarterback that has the tools to compete and the speed to keep up.

Williams Closing the Gap

But again, it’s only April. We’ve seen a very small sample set of the quarterback that Williams can be. But what we have seen has been impressive. Given the nature of the experience in this quarterback room, the gap between Williams and Rogers, the presumed starting quarterback for 2024, was considered to be significant. But that gap appears not as large as it was thought to be just two weeks ago. 


Photo Credit Nick Lemkau; Last Word on College Football



More Posts

Send Us A Message