It was 33 years ago when Corey Batoon and Manly Williams were Saint Louis School teammates. Batoon was a quick and tough defensive back. Williams was a dynamic linebacker who was equally remembered for mowing down opponents on special teams.
Batoon, now UH’s defensive coordinator, said his former teammate’s nephew — also named Manly Williams, but answers to Pumba — has the same appreciation for the sport.
“I know how important football is to Pumba and his family and to representing the state,” Batoon said following last night’s 45-38 victory over Arizona.
The outcome was sealed when Williams, who aligned as a defensive end, sprinted 29 yards to team with safety Kalen Hicks to tackle Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate a yard from the end zone.
UPDATE: ESPN’s College Gameday analyst Kirk Herbstreit gave Williams a shout-out on Sunday afternoon.
In a weekend of some sloppy college football how bout DT #49 Manly Williams extra effort to secure the win for Hawaii in the last play of the game?!?
Never know if you’re effort will be THE DIFFERENCE. 40 yards downfield he makes the last!
GREAT JOB Manly for not giving up! https://t.co/fzCCXK7Wyf
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) August 25, 2019
“It’s a neat situation for Pumba, being a senior and having gone through the things he’s gone through — the position changes and just being a selfless guy,” Batoon said. “To help us win a game at home to start the season, it’s real indicative of his character and what he means to this ballclub.”
Williams initially was recruited to UH as a safety. He then moved to linebacker. Last year, he was at rush end in a 4-4 front when the Warriors played triple-option teams such as Navy and Army. This season, now weighing about 280, he plays the strong-side end. Of Williams’ past life as a safety, Batoon said, “he tells me that all the time. That was 100 pounds ago.”
But Williams proved he still had a safety’s quickness on the final play. Against Tate, the Pac-12’s most mobile quarterback, the Warriors rotated defenders frequently.
“We were trying to sub and keep fresh guys to try to chase (Tate) around,” Batoon said, noting Williams “was the next man up.”
And, as it turned out, the last line of defense — Williams and Hicks — provided the final stand.