QB Javon Williams Jr. 

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 234 pounds

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Centralia

Over at his grandfather's place before Centralia High School was set to play Cahokia in late September last year, Javon Williams Jr. told his father he might break the school rushing record. The mark, a ridiculous 350 yards, in fact, fell after the 6-foot-2 senior went for 354 and five touchdowns in a 41-30 win. "Next thing I know, coach comes up and says 'Congratulations, you broke the record. You rushed for 354 yards,'" Williams said. "I was, like, wow. I made a prediction, and it came true." The freshman backup quarterback has made a niche for himself this season for the Salukis as a runner. He has carried the football 11 times for 48 yards in four games, including a touchdown run against South Dakota with a minute left in the game. 

In this week's Meet A Saluki, Williams talks about spurning another Missouri Valley Football Conference program, learning the offense on the fly, and always enjoying himself on the field.

How hard has it been to pick up the offense?

Coming in I was not as experienced as the others because they'd come in before me. It was kind of hard. It was a challenge, but the last couple weeks I've been picking up the offense.

Even when defenses knew you were going to run it, you still average 4.4 yards a carry. How do you do that?

I don't know. I've always had that mindset that when you get the ball you go to the end zone. Every time I get the ball, I'm picturing myself getting in the end zone, so it just makes me work harder.

Did you play a lot of zone read in high school, or did you sling it a lot?

I'd say it was 50-50. I would say, when I ran the ball, I'd break tackles and run 50-some yards every time I ran the ball.

What have you learned from Sam (Straub) and the veterans in this group?

That you gotta be disciplined every play. As you've seen. Straub, that's like my big brother. Not trying to knock him, but if you're not disciplined, you will turn the ball over.

Who else did you look at, as far as colleges?

South Dakota. A few jucos, D-2s, but mainly South Dakota.

Was SIU late recruiting you?

SIU was actually my first Division I offer. I felt like they showed me the most love. I was gonna go to South Dakota. Right before signing coach Hill talked me out of it. I came here.

What's it like to have people from Centralia come see you play?

It's a pretty good feeling, knowing my hometown is only an hour and 10 minutes away, so I know it's easier for them to get here. I love just my hometown crowd going.

When we watch you play, we forget you're, like, 235, 245 pounds. Have you always been big, or were you fast and then gained the weight?

I feel like I've always been fast. I'm fast when I break out, but I feel like I'm a lot quicker than fast. Freshman year going into high school I was 200, and going into junior year I was 248, and I guess I've trained my body to be fast with a lot of weight on me. Coming here, throughout all the conditioning, I dropped a few pounds and felt a lot faster.

What have you worked on as a thrower?

What I've been working on is just going through a progression of the plays. Watching the coverages, and my footwork. Footwork is key. It keeps you balanced. The way your footwork is, that's the way the ball is going to flow. You got slow feet, it's gonna be a slow ball. You got good feet, it's gonna be a good ball.

The coaches say you're a fun guy, that you can get down to business, but that you have a lot of fun out there on the field.

Oh yeah. Sometimes people get a mindset about being angry on the field. I just go out there and have fun.

It's still fun for you?

You get hit hard. You say 'Good hit,' and I'm giggling about it. I'm just a goofy person, so it doesn't matter.

— Todd Hefferman

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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