By Rhett Wilkinson
To begin spring ball, Utah coaches were unsure about their team’s depth at running back. Consider that problem solved after several strong performances from the Williams — not to mention sophomore James Poole and junior Lucky Radley. The talent that seemed to emerge behind Wilson may cause Erickson and Johnson to make the Utes’ offense more ground-oriented than they expected.
Given more opportunities to shine after projected starter Kelvin York was limited due to a lingering toe injury, Williams has impressed Whittingham. In the Utes’ final scrimmage before their April 20 spring game, Williams rushed 10 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense, while York had seven carries for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Williams came to campus in 2010 as a fullback after playing seven games as a true freshman for Southern Utah University. He was given a scholarship in February after losing weight and earning compliments from coaches like Erickson for his ball security and for proving effective in making receptions out of the backfield.
“If you are going to talk about a pleasant surprise, (Williams) is probably the most pleasant surprise of the spring,” Erickson told reporters after the Red-White spring game on April 20.
Whittingham said all the aforementioned backs may be used next season.
York was assumed to inherit the starting running back job left vacant by the graduated John White IV, the first Ute to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Despite strong performances from a trio of other backs led by Williams, York should still be the first among them to take a carry this season.
He didn’t see much time during spring practices due to a lingering toe injury. But York has real experience, rushing for 273 yards on 60 carries and three touchdowns in eight games.