The 90 Illini #2: Isaiah Williams
These basically write themselves at this point. I'm telling you now that Isaiah Williams is #2, which means you now know that Johnny Newton will be #1. I'm pretty sure you know absolutely everything about Isaiah Williams and absolutely everything about Johnny Newton. So I'm going to really have to dig through my brain to find anything that would be interesting to you below.
Also, it's 2:14 am as I type this. I'm supposed to be up at 6:15 to start packing tailgate stuff in the car (LOL no way that's happening now). I'm pushing through all the way to the finish line and then I'm going to text the parking pass to my son (he's asleep in the back bedroom) so that he can get into the lot to help Carmen set up at 7:01. They'll see it as a failure of tailgating dedication. I'll see it as 90 Illini success.
2. Isaiah Williams
Uniform number: 1
Year in school: Junior (without the Covid waiver, 1 year to play 1; with the Covid waiver, technically 2 years to play 2)
Height: 6'-1" -- Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
High School: Trinity Catholic HS
Five best offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU
Previous 90i rankings: #29 (2019), #36 (2020), #11 (2021), #3 (2022)
Tom Cruise rating:
2022 statistics: 82 catches for 715 yards and 5 touchdowns.
I'm still bitter about his drop after committing to Illinois. He was a legit 5-star recruit (ranked 29th in his class the day he committed, I believe). And because he picked Illinois he fell down to 116th in the rankings. Someone still owes him that fifth star.
He picked Illinois because he'd have an opportunity to win the QB job (you knew that). He did start a few games at QB. But in the spring of 2021, Bret Bielema convinced him to give WR a try. And then last year he caught 82 passes.
Maybe the best thing to put here is a cut-and-paste from my football preview. This is the Inspector Gadget thing, so if you read the preview, you can just skip this part. If you didn't, well, here's my outlook for Isaiah Williams:
The most important thing that Altmyer has to perfect: Go Go Gadget Handoffs.
Isaiah Williams is not a wide receiver in this offense. He's a running back on the edge of the field. Perhaps the most incredible stat in all of college football last season was that Isaiah Williams had 715 receiving yards last season … and 683 yards after the catch. Those are not numbers you add. You subtract. Had he been tackled immediately on every catch last year, he would have had 82 receptions for 32 yards.
Read that again. And again, and again, and again. He would have had 82 receptions for 32 yards.
How? Well, think about that jet sweep out of the shotgun where DeVito would more or less volleyball-set the ball to Williams after catching the snap. Williams starts out at -4 or -5 on all of those plays and then everything else is yards after catch.
Or think of those quick passes to Williams on the edge. DeVito would grab the snap, Williams would take a few steps back, and DeVito would immediately get it to IW on the edge about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. That starts with -3 and then everything else is YAC.
And plays like those were the majority of Williams' catches. Remember the 46-yard touchdown catch against Nebraska to start the game? He caught it on a crossing route one yard beyond the line of scrimmage. So, 1-yard catch + 45 yards of YAC.
This is why I say that Altmyer needs to be good at Go Go Gadget Handoffs. He needs to have a Go Go Gadget Arm just like Inspector Gadget. He'll need to catch the shotgun snap and then immediately extend that arm to the sideline to place the ball in Isaiah Williams' hands. These aren't really passes. They're handoffs on the edge. Get him the ball immediately and then see what he can do with two blockers against three defensive backs.