Taking the reins

Former star quarterback takes his talents to Laramie.

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Taking the reins

Levi Williams verbally committed to the University of Wyoming on Sunday.

Levi Williams verbally committed to the University of Wyoming on Sunday.

Courtesy of Wyoming Cowboys football

Levi Williams verbally committed to the University of Wyoming on Sunday.

Courtesy of Wyoming Cowboys football

Courtesy of Wyoming Cowboys football

Levi Williams verbally committed to the University of Wyoming on Sunday.

Jackson Posey, Staff Writer

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The pick is in. Former stud Ranger quarterback Levi Williams is headed to the University of Wyoming. After weeks of deliberations, the Cowboys emerged as the clear favorites, with deciding factors being “landscape, people, weather, [and] some of the best facilities in the country, but most of all people I could trust!”

The Cowboys, who reside in Laramie, Wyoming, are a geographic far cry from Williams’ former school of choice, the University of Houston. But with sources around him emphasizing his love for nature and the snow, maybe it should’ve come as no surprise, with sources saying he “loves snowboarding.” Indeed, Williams himself professed his affection for the campus’ “landscape [and] weather.” The passion for braving harsh environments should serve him well, whether he continues his career past Wyoming or not.

Speaking of continuing his career, Williams seems to think that Wyoming will give him a pretty good shot at that. Williams spoke glowingly of Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach Brent Vigen, who coached former Cowboy QB Josh Allen (seventh overall pick in 2018) and former North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz (second overall in 2016) into top-ten selections. Both profile similarly to Williams, though with admittedly stronger arms. Williams referred to Wyoming as having “a really great quarterback culture,” saying that he is “excited to be trained by someone who can possibly launchpad me to the next level, and be challenged in a way I’ve never been challenged before.”

If you squint, Williams profiles similarly to players like Allen and Wentz. Big-bodied pocket passers with mobility who like to take deep shots. The discrepancies – Allen’s bigger arm, Wentz’ occasional pinpoint accuracy – may not loom quite so large when realizing the situation into which he is headed. The coaching, the precedent, the subpar competition against which he can mold his craft, and the simple reality that he is just 18 years old. When someone walks into their high school at 6’4, 193, heads will instantly turn. And when that prototypical size meshes with arm strength and athleticism, a star begins to form.

So, the main attraction. How much playing time is coming? Well, Williams was the only quarterback to sign with Wyoming in this recruiting cycle. However, last year’s cycle saw the Cowboys pick up two three-star quarterbacks: Reow Jackson and highly-touted recruit Sean Chambers were both redshirted in favor of fellow freshman Tyler Vander Waal, who struggled to the tune of 120 completions, 1310 yards and 5 touchdowns with four picks on 48.8% completion percentage. That yardage places him 118th among the 130 qualified players, and his five passing touchdowns tied for 147th among qualifiers. And his QBR (Quarterback Rating) would slot him in at 123rd. Not improving would be nearly impossible, yet he does have a lot of ground to make up to become even an average starting quarterback. If he is benched, replacement options are few and far between. Among the likely candidates is Chambers, who split reps with Vander Waal for the first four games of the year before breaking his right leg (he was going to be redshirted anyway; all that this practically cost him was practice reps). He threw for 15/266/3 on 60% completion and no picks. But even more than that, his strength came from his legs, as he rushed for 329 yards and two scores on 59 attempts. That kind of proficiency was matched, at least on the high school level, by Williams, who averaged an identical 5.6 yards per carry. Though that proficiency is unlikely to be maintained in his first season, the potential is certainly there for a competition. To me, it seems that a redshirt first season behind Chambers – with appearances in the maximum four games that a redshirt-designated player can play in – is the most-likely outcome. However, if Chambers isn’t fully back from his leg injury, or if Williams really impresses in spring camp (he’s already on campus), a starting gig is not out of the question.

As a junior, his first year as a starter, Williams possessed an arsenal of star receivers (including current TCU Horned Frog Trevon Moehrig-Woodard) and exploded, compiling 2,111 passing yards and 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, with an additional 390 yards and four scores on the ground. Despite a down passing year as a senior (800 yards and six touchdowns with three picks on under 40 percent completion), Williams still managed nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns despite his lack of protection, thanks to his athleticism and prowess as a runner. But he doesn’t want his impact at the school to be limited to his stats and two playoff appearances. In fact, he has a special message for all of the Rangers cheering him on.

“I love you guys,” Williams says. ”We’ve been through thick and thin. No matter how far I go or where I end up I’ll be a Ranger forever. Rangers we will be.”

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