UNC's Williams relishes competition for starting QB job
JUL 20, 2014 7:27p ET
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The questions about UNC quarterback Marquise Williams' fundamentals have swirled since he took his first snap, and they'll continue to -- but his throwing motion has the endorsement of one person that carries a good bit of weight.
"That's Peyton Manning. He's the greatest in the game," Williams said. "When he gave me that talk, I felt like nobody could tell me anything."
Manning told Williams that at the Manning Passing Academy this summer, one of many ways the junior quarterback is trying to refine his skills and learn to be a better all-around passer and player.
Williams threw just one pass through UNC's first four games in 2013, a 15-yard completion in a 20-point win over Middle Tennessee State as the Tar Heels started 1-3. Then, even as Williams saw most of the action at Virginia Tech after an injury to Bryn Renner and threw seven passes against Miami, UNC lost both of those games to drop to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the ACC.
UNC would finish winning six of its final seven games, losing only to eventual Coastal Division champion Duke. Williams was a big reason why, as he started UNC's final five games of the season (four of which were wins).
After his strong finish to the year, it was thought he would be the no-brainer starting quarterback.
But redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky is going to push Williams, and push him hard, for that starting job.
He loves the competition, though.
"I named myself 'Marquise Competition' because I've been competing all my life, and that's what I like to do. I don't put too much pressure on myself. I just go out and play my game and what happens next, happens next," Williams said.
Even though the battle has been heated between the two quarterbacks, Williams insists there's no bad blood. To the contrary, even -- the two text often and do the "kiddest" stuff together, Williams said, like going to jump on trampolines.
"We know what we're both after. We're a family, man. We're trying to do something that's great for this organization and this football team," Williams said. "We want to be winners, and we're both winners at a competitive position. You only can have one man on the field and that one man is going to win the job.
"You've got to have some confidence. You've got to have a swag about it. I agree with him -- to this day, he's got to come in feeling some type of way himself."
Williams is trying not to read too much into the fact that UNC sent him to represent the school at ACC Kickoff rather than someone else. That doesn't necessarily mean he's the starter, but after an off-season that saw him suspended for part of the spring, he's happy to be back in the good graces of the coaching staff.
And he's well aware of what this team is capable of doing -- so are his teammates, actually. They've seen that many are picking them as a contender in the Coastal Division. Rather than play it off, Williams -- grinning and excited -- has embraced it.
"We're not trying to put too much pressure on ourselves but at the same time, we're feeling good. If you can see how I'm talking, I'm feeling good. I'm excited," Williams said. "We're just excited and blessed to be in this opportunity to be able to compete with some of the best schools in the ACC and that's what we're going to do.
"We're going to represent the University of North Carolina and we're going to try to change this thing around. I think this year will be the year."