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April 14, 2011

Williams provides a glimpse

North Carolina true freshman quarterback Marquise Williams looked plenty natural under center in Saturday's Spring Game for the Tar Heels.

Williams gave a glimpse of his high athletic ceiling by taking off on a bootleg down the right sideline and scoring a touchdown from 42 yards out.

He added an eight-yard pass completion in one of just two throws he attempted.

"It felt great just coming out here and producing for the fans just to show them what I've got, just learning new things about Coach (John) Shoop and running his offense. It felt great," said Williams.

Mostly a passing quarterback out of a shotgun offense in high school, it was important for Williams to show the Tar Heel faithful that he can get it done with his legs as much as with his arm.

"A lot of people back in high school, nobody thought that I could do what I can do---I could throw the ball and run the ball," he said.

"My focus was just coming here and getting under center more, you know. I was in shotgun all my life at Mallard Creek. I was came in here focused on what I needed to do."

Williams thinks it was one of the best decisions he ever made enrolling at UNC this January, where he was able to get a much firmer grasp of the Tar Heel offense and everything that's asked of a college quarterback before the summertime.

"I think it was the best decision just coming here early, because I see how hard it is now in the spring. If I was just to come in during the summertime, I probably wouldn't even make it," Williams said.

"I'm just glad I came in early and keep taking this step and keep going on."

Williams was impressive this spring on the UNC practice fields with his confident approach to the game and the way he's stepped up.

"Marquise, he's just excited to be here. He's learning from each of us," said fellow UNC signal-caller A.J. Blue.

Although it's been one big learning process for the former prep standout, Williams made strides with each passing day during spring ball.

"I feel real good. I've been kind of down this spring because I haven't been doing what I usually do because it's more learning with my reads and stuff," Williams said.

"But now I'm feeling good and I know a little bit more reads than I used to. I'm feeling great now."

Williams credits the older UNC quarterbacks for taking him under their collective wing and not being abrasive to him just because he's the new guy competing against them.

"It's great guys---great guys (playing quarterback at Carolina)," he said.

"It doesn't matter who's starting or who's playing. We're all like a family. We're all out here to win for our school."

As most everyone knows, Williams' recruitment got pretty dramatic in the final months, when he very seriously considered switching from UNC to Virginia Tech before finally deciding once and for all on the Tar Heels in mid-December---just a couple of weeks before he enrolled at Chapel Hill.

"This family (at North Carolina) is great. You can't ask for anything better than the sky blue. I mean, it's beautiful around here," Williams said.

"People treat you with respect. I feel that if you come somewhere where they treat you with respect and you have fun and they treat you like a family, then it's the place for me."

Williams' long run during the Spring Game was a huge confident boost---and the kind of play that should keep Tar Heel fans excited well into the summer.

But Williams knows he wasn't perfect.

On one of his two pass attempts, he threw an interception to former prep teammate Josh Hunter, who has been working to make a name of his own at free safety this spring for the Tar Heels.

"I know I threw an INT to my old teammate (Hunter), but it just felt great just to come out here and produce and have fun," Williams said.

Now that the offseason is upon him, Williams says his top priority between now and the start of training camp in August is getting in his playbook and learning as much as he can.

"Studying the playbook more---studying. It's a studying game," he said.

"It's like a foreign language. It's learning something new. It's like me going to France and just learning new things. I've got to learn materials about the playbook and the offense."

"Yeah, I think I can (handle everything). I took French in high school," he joked.

Coming off his solid performance on Saturday---and having gotten more familiar with his surroundings---Williams kind of wishes the spring season didn't end.

"I'm ready to roll now. I wish the spring wasn't over now. I wish we could just go back and develop our game and play some more," he said.

Williams will certainly get his chance to play some more in the summer, when he'll have a chance of showing what he can do with a possible spot in Carolina's two-deep rotation at quarterback on the line.





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