December 15, 2004

Tracking down the deep ball

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor

P.J. Williams has a knack for getting to everything thrown his way — well, almost everything. The one that Williams wasn’t able to track down, tight end Walter Sharp was, for the game-winning touchdown to cap Mary Hardin-Baylor’s stunning 17-point comeback over Mount Union in last Saturday’s national semifinal win.

“I was just a couple of inches away,” Williams, a junior said earlier this week. “When (quarterback Josh Welch) threw it, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get to it. (Walter) made a great catch. It was like it all happened in slow motion.”

Williams is usually the target on a play like that, and chances are he’ll need to get under a few passes for the Crusaders to match high-scoring Linfield in the Stagg Bowl on Saturday. Mary Hardin-Baylor may get most of its yardage from its multi-faceted rushing attack, but is capable of throwing the football deep when needed. Williams is averaging 20 yards per catch on his team-high 36 receptions this season and has scored 10 touchdowns (nine receiving, one on a punt return).

The reason that the football usually ends up in Williams hands once it’s in the air has something to do with his previous sport of choice. The 27-year-old native of Rockdale, Texas, just 50 miles away from UMHB, spent six seasons playing professional baseball, in the Seattle Mariners’ organization against current big leaguers like Juan Pierre and Corey Patterson, as well as in the independent Atlantic League, before re-enrolling in school. He was best known for his speed (Williams was a state champion hurdler in high school) and his defensive ability but a serious of injuries, including a broken hand and separated shoulder, slowed down his progress to the major leagues.

Case in point was the 2000 season in which Williams followed up a .299 campaign the year before by hitting .291 for the Lancaster Jethawks of the Class A California League, but was sidelined for two-thirds of the season. He was elected an All-Star in 2002, but decided not long after to give up the sport and re-enroll in school. Williams had been selected in the MLB draft out of Blinn Junior College and still had three years of eligibility remaining.

“I always felt that if I got a shot, I could have played in the majors someday,” Williams said. “I had the ability and the tools, but things never happened in the right place at the right time for me. I don’t regret it at all though because right now, I’m playing for a national championship.”

Williams may have had one of his best career days in the national quarterfinal rout of Washington and Jefferson, catching six passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. He also blocked a field goal and returned a punt 57 yards for the game’s opening score. His ability to move quicker than the action and sense both how and where things will develop is something that he brought from baseball to adapt to this sport.

“He can track the football like no one I’ve seen,” said Mary Hardin-Baylor offensive coordinator Matt Robinson. “It must have come from catching all those fly balls.”

It’s easy for opponents to be deceived, tricked into thinking they can cheat their safeties up, since the Crusaders’ run/pass play ratio is greater than three to one. But Williams can catch them off guard.

“I can use my speed to get past the defensive backs,” Williams said. “I’m more of a deep threat, more of a leader with my play on the field than in the huddle. We do run the ball quite a bit, but we will throw it deep when we get the chance. I get my share of plays.”

Williams should be able to calm his teammates down if they get too excited about the glare of the national spotlight. They may joke about his age, but they listen to a man with the experience of having played before bigger crowds and in a championship atmosphere.

“They may call me ‘Grandpa’ or ‘Old Man’ sometimes,” Williams said, “but it’s all serious once we’re on the field.”

comments powered by Disqus
Oct. 3: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
MIT at Curry
Live Stats Live Stats
10:00 PM
George Fox at Willamette
Live Stats Video
Oct. 4: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Hobart at WPI
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Framingham State at Mass-Dartmouth
Video
12:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Kean
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Endicott at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Juniata at Johns Hopkins
Audio
12:00 PM
Springfield at Union
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Salisbury at St. John Fisher
Live Stats Audio Audio
12:00 PM
TCNJ at Morrisville State
Live Stats Audio
12:00 PM
Apprentice School at Newport News Apprentice
Live Stats
12:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Rochester
Live Stats Video Audio
12:30 PM
Mount Union at Capital
Preview Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
RPI at Merchant Marine
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Trinity (Conn.) at Hamilton
Live Stats Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Wesleyan at Colby
Video
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Westfield State
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Norwich at Husson
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Williams at Bates
Preview Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at King's
1:00 PM
Montclair State at William Paterson
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Gallaudet at Anna Maria
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Moravian at Ursinus
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Stevenson at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Coast Guard at Western New England
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Franklin and Marshall at Dickinson
Video
1:00 PM
Hope at Albion
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Emory and Henry
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Guilford
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Catholic
Preview Video Audio
1:00 PM
Benedictine at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video Audio Tickets
1:00 PM
Alma at Trine
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Carnegie Mellon
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Widener at Misericordia
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Nichols at Salve Regina
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Louisiana College at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Averett at N.C. Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Susquehanna
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Alfred at Hartwick
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Rowan at Cortland State
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Buffalo State at Frostburg State
Live Stats
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Gettysburg
Preview Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Allegheny
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Albright at Delaware Valley
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Utica at Ithaca
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
FDU-Florham at Wilkes
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Rhodes at Chicago
Preview Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at Minnesota-Morris
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Grinnell at Lawrence
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Tufts at Bowdoin
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Amherst at Middlebury
Live Stats Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Massachusetts Maritime at Fitchburg State
Preview Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
John Carroll at Ohio Northern
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Franklin at Manchester
Preview Live Stats Live Stats Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at Otterbein
Audio
1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Earlham
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Hanover at Bluffton
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Denison at DePauw
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Castleton State at Becker
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Mount Ida
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Hiram at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
LaGrange at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Anderson at Rose-Hulman
Preview Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Waynesburg at Grove City
2:00 PM
Muskingum at Baldwin Wallace
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Millsaps at Hendrix
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Aurora at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Greensboro at Huntingdon
Video
2:00 PM
Concordia-Chicago at Concordia (Wis.)
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Lakeland
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Bethel
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Hamline at St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Carleton at Gustavus Adolphus
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Sewanee at Birmingham-Southern
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Hardin-Simmons
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Simpson at Buena Vista
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
St. Norbert at Cornell
2:00 PM
Knox at Macalester
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Texas Lutheran at Howard Payne
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Okla. Panhandle
2:00 PM
Augustana at Elmhurst
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
North Park at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Wartburg at Central
Audio
2:00 PM
Dubuque at Luther
Video
2:00 PM
Loras at Coe
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Eureka
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Greenville
2:00 PM
Iowa Wesleyan at Crown
2:00 PM
Ripon at Illinois College
2:00 PM
Beloit at Monmouth
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Trinity Bible at Maranatha Baptist
Video
2:10 PM
St. Thomas at St. Olaf
Live Stats Video Audio
3:00 PM
St. Vincent at Thiel
Video
3:00 PM
UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh
Live Stats Video Audio
3:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at UW-River Falls
Audio
3:30 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Eau Claire
Live Stats Video Audio Audio Tickets
4:00 PM
Austin at Southwestern
Preview Live Stats
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Linfield at Pacific Lutheran
Live Stats Audio Audio
4:00 PM
Chapman at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Whitworth at Pacific
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
5:00 PM
Olivet at Adrian
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
5:30 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at St. Scholastica
Live Stats Live Stats Video
6:00 PM
Bethany at Case Western Reserve
Preview Live Stats Video
6:00 PM
Wilmington at Marietta
Live Stats Video Audio
6:00 PM
Washington U. at Berry
Preview Preview Live Stats Video Audio Tickets
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Bridgewater (Va.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Thomas More at Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Ferrum at Christopher Newport
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Millikin at North Central (Ill.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
8:00 PM
Cal Lutheran at Whittier
Live Stats Video
10:00 PM
Occidental at La Verne
Live Stats Video
10:00 PM
Redlands at Pomona-Pitzer
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
Oct. 4: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Thomas More at Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Millikin at North Central (Ill.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Hiram at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
John Carroll at Ohio Northern
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at Otterbein
Audio
3:30 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Eau Claire
Live Stats Video Audio Audio Tickets
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Catholic
Preview Video Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Louisiana College at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Utica at Ithaca
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Stevenson at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
3:00 PM
UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh
Live Stats Video Audio
12:30 PM
Mount Union at Capital
Preview Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:10 PM
St. Thomas at St. Olaf
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Juniata at Johns Hopkins
Audio
12:00 PM
Salisbury at St. John Fisher
Live Stats Audio Audio
12:00 PM
Hobart at WPI
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Wartburg at Central
Audio
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Bethel
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
North Park at Wheaton (Ill.)
4:00 PM
Linfield at Pacific Lutheran
Live Stats Audio Audio

What We're Reading