Ride The Chuck Wagon

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Winning the UNLV starting running back job, then losing it to Lexington Thomas after suffering a season-ending injury only to regain the job a couple years later is the story of Charles Williams who is expected to lead the crowded room of running backs out on the field this season. It will be a different feel for him this season, as he will be the guy opposing teams key in on. In previous seasons, defenses had to key in on Lexington Thomas due to his quick outburst of breakaway speed, but now opposing teams will be focused on Williams who will have to adjust to the change. However, Williams said that he is ready.

“With Lex there was less time, but then they also couldn’t key in on me or just Lex, so I just feel like this year it’s going to be a little tough at first but all my life I’ve grown up in adversity and so I’m ready for this season and so I’m ready to make Xzavier Campbell proud and Evan Owens proud.”

 

Charles Williams is not only playing for himself this year but for his former teammates. He is ready for it even with a new system in place with former offensive line coach, Garin Justice, taking over for Barney Cotton as offensive coordinator. It helps, though, because the offensive line, he says, really helps him out.

“[Offensive coordinator and Offensive line coach] Garin [Justice] knows what he’s doing and the offensive line, they’re terrific, like they do everything they’re supposed to. They call out everything, they make my job easier, they make Armani’s [Armani Rogers] job easier and so without them we would probably be lost but I really appreciate them 100%.”

 

It is key that he is running behind an experienced offensive line that already knows Coach Justice who spent last year as the offensive line coach/run game coordinator. Even though the offense is expected to be similar to the one run by Coach Cotton, there are a few new wrinkles. Charles Williams said the offensive line really helps him make plays. They will be key for him, as the game of football is built by the lines. With the offensive line allowing Lexington Thomas to rush for over 1,100 yards in 2018, Charles Williams’ ascent as the next great UNLV Football running back will start with the guys up front. He said he treats them to milkshakes and hangs out with them more than ever. He is focused on bonding with them to build the “brotherhood”.

 

Charles Williams ran for 332 yards on 65 attempts in 2018, and just a couple years prior ran for 763 yards on 141 carries with three touchdowns his freshman year. He has shown what he can do, but now needs to show it on the field. Bonding with his teammates is good, but he also needs to bond with the other backs in order to notify each other of what the defense is doing. Communication is key in sports, but especially in football, where you might not play every down but have to come back in and be expected not to miss a beat.

Having spent a year as the backup running back, Charles Williams grew in that role. He could take a small step back and watch the plays from afar, learning what adjustments he needed to make. He said that he felt it was good to leave the back-up role and be a full-time starter. He feels like he is a bigger mentor in the locker room and someone others can lean on.

“I just feel more comfortable knowing that I have time and the patience to play my game now. Now I can mentor [the backs] behind me and make sure they know what to do, just getting more chemistry with the offensive line and just make sure we hit everything on the same point and make sure everything is going to go together well.”

 

He knows he doesn’t have to be like Lexington Thomas. He can settle down, be himself, and still be great. He is determined to be an every-down back and lead the running backs out of the tunnel. He knows he can do it and even showed it last year by being third on the team in rushing with 332 yards. He showed a glimpse of what he could be by rushing 16 times for 121 yards against the then-23rd ranked team in the nation, Fresno State. He just needs to show it game after game and he knows it.

 

Williams said he feels that he has prepared for the team to “ride the Chuck wagon” by, “….Taking it day-by-day and every play just keep going, just keep going and I don’t try to chase for the home runs every single time, if we have to get two, six, eight, or 15 or two [yards] I’ll be able to be that back. So I’m ready for anything and I’m not trying to hit home runs. I’m trying to be the every-down back, trying to make sure when Chad Magyar comes in he know what we’re doing and he has holes. I’m trying to make sure when Tyree Jackson, Darren Williams, or Courtney Reese get in they have holes or Biaggio Ali-Walsh they have holes to so then the defense doesn’t know everything. They’re so worried about me, they don’t know about them and they can play their game and be more comfortable.”

 

He knows what is expected of him and aims for what he needs to get rather than what he wants to get. He might cut the gap to gain the tough yardage that the team needs instead of running it outside and having a chance of being tackled behind the line of scrimmage. He tries to help the team out any way he can and does it by getting the tough yards up the middle if the team needs it. If the situation calls for him to run it outside, he can do that as well. He is just trying to do whatever the team needs.

He says he is more focused on football than ever before, and expects the Rebels to be in business this year. He has grown more mature over the years as well as being more active and engaged in the learning process. It is a big year for him and he feels like this is going to benefit him in the understanding of his role in certain plays.

 

In his own words, running back Charles Williams said, “I don’t necessarily go to my old kid ways and play around so much, I’m more standing around asking questions more even though I know I’ve been here, I ask questions, because I should be more advanced than anybody on the field. So I’m trying to figure the ins-and-outs of who’s doing what. What everybody’s doing and being  honest, just maturing… just growing up and getting older and older. It’s like less games” and more business.”

 

Maturing and growing up is one thing, but knowing that you are the guy, the starter that everyone in the room will look up to, is another. The fans will know the name of the guy who will score touchdowns and the player who is the focal point in the offense. He is determined to show that he is the type of guy who is ready to lead the run game and to show the staff why they recruited him, “Now I just got to step up and accept my role and be the person I’m supposed to be and be the person they recruited. Be amazing and do everything that they believe that I can do.”

 

Even Head Coach Tony Sanchez sees the work he has put in. He sees that Charles Williams has taken more of a leadership presence in the room, accepting responsibility and taking the bull by the horns by being a proactive guy. He doesn’t forget what Williams did his second year by beating out Lexington Thomas. It doesn’t bother him, and in fact, Sanchez said, Williams “earned” that spot. At the end of the day, Sanchez knows Charles Williams isn’t going to let anything stop him and knows the sky is the limit for him just by seeing the hard work that he has put in since the 2017 season and even his freshman season.

 

UNLV Head Coach Tony Sanchez had this to say about starting running back Charles Williams:

“Good, I mean two years ago, he earned that spot going into the first game of the season, and then he got hurt and with Lex [Lexington Thomas] being as talented as he is, he never gave the spot back up. So, I think Chuck’s been chomping at the bit. What I love about him is that he’s not one of those oh woe-is-me guys or blaming coaches or blaming other people for why he wasn’t the starter at the time. He just kept working and all of a sudden now he’s got two years to go, he’s the starting running back and he’ll benefit. He’s a lot different than most young people nowadays. Most young people, when things don’t go their way, they run for the hills. Chuck ran right into the fray.”

 

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