One of the most upbeat players of the Hawaii football team had reason to smile during and after Tuesday afternoon’s practice.
Junior outside linebacker Lance Williams hauled in a tipped pass from Jeremy Higgins for an interception in full team drills near the end of the day, and had a clear path for a would-be return touchdown as his defensive teammates hollered at him from the grass practice field sidelines.
The Farrington alumnus appeared off and on as a reserve over his first two years, and made a single start at Wyoming last season. He’s been featured primarily on special teams.
“It’s all about improvement. My freshman year when I came up, I wasn’t really in shape. I wasn’t really strong enough,” Williams said. “My freshman year I was just developing with special teams. My second year was just getting in shape with (strength) Coach (Gary) Beemer, eat right, get healthy, get the nutrition in my body. And just stay healthy throughout the offseason.
“The third year, I’m going to try to get on the field, you know what I mean.”
He was all smiles talking about fresh start and a new philosophy from defensive coordinator Kevin Clune and his position coach, Kurt Gouveia. UH has implemented a 3-4 scheme this year.
“The vibe has just been great. It’s awesome,” Williams said. “This is the only place I would be, nowhere else, you know what I’m saying.”
In Gouveia, he’s found a coach who will champion Lance(elot)’s cause.
Gouveia is high on the contributions of veteran outside backers TJ Taimatuia and UCLA transfer Jeremy Castro. But the coach said Williams is also “in the first-team mix” and will “see a lot of playing time this year.”
“I am so happy for him, because he’s come a long way (from the spring),” Gouveia said. “He’s worked hard in the offseason, he’s worked hard in the academics. He’s such a great student. He’s a great person. He’s just enjoyable to be around. I mean, I think our squad really needs a guy like that. He’s the man, you know? I really count on him because he’s a consistent football player. I know he knows the scheme, so I can trust him. You know those guys you can hang your hat on? He’s that guy. When I need something to be done, he’s the guy I call to. He always delivers. I trust him, I believe in him.”
Over 22 games in two seasons at UH, Williams has 40 total tackles, including one for loss, and a fumble recovery. Look for those numbers to climb dramatically in Year 3.